Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Getting Kids to Write: Part IV

Revising may be the area you are more familiar with when rounding out the writing process.  It's the time to fix all those spelling and grammatical errors. Somehow, over the years we've learned to focus more on correcting these aspects instead of focusing on good content and ideas.  Even though editing is a very important step, it is NOT the end all be all of a good paper. 

When editing your child's paper, I have a few suggestions to avoid marking up their hard work and ideas.  There is nothing more frustrating then getting back your paper and someone has corrected every other word.  This is where leaving the pen (or pencil) in your child's hand will help out tremendously.

Remember in the first few stages I asked that you not tell the child their spelling is wrong, and to encourage them to do the best they can when they don't know how to spell a word.  When you have children do this, they are aware there are incorrect spellings.  Have them go through their paper and circle the words they think are misspelled.  You'll be surprised how many they find on their own.

After the child goes through their own paper and circles misspelled words I ask they pull out a pencil eraser side pointing toward the paper.  Nope, they aren't erasing now.  Just using it as a pointer.  The child is to go through their own paper, point to every word, and read it aloud to themselves.  This helps eliminate missing words.  Since our brains work much faster than our hands, there are often a few imperative words that have been omitted.  This also allows the child to read the paper a little slower and can 'hear' what they've said on paper.  Often times they find sentences that just don't make sense (fragments) and sentences that just go on forever (run-ons).  Again, you'll be surprised what they catch on their own.

Now that the child has already done a large part of editing on their own, you begin to work one-on-one with them.  Your job, as the teacher, is to educate the child on grammatical errors they may not be aware of at the time.  You'll get a good indication of who understands the structure of a good sentence, grammar, and spelling ability.  Allowing the time to work on the child's individual level. 

I will suggest you make the child work for what they know.  For example, if the child has the ability to spell a word OR is very close to the correct spelling, hand them a dictionary.  If the child is having a lazy moment with a grammar skill you KNOW they know, hand them a grammar book and ask that they use the index to look up the skill.  (For example, many kids make errors on the order of commas and quotation marks when characters are speaking.  A quick reference to a grammar book will show them the exact order.)  There are some kids who will stand there and let you do all the work.  It is important for them to work for the skill.  Never do for a kid what they can do for themself (or an adult for that matter)!

After you and the child are happy with the editing process it's time to put the work away for a couple of days.  I liked to work on the editing stage on a Thursday and/or Friday.  That way the kids had at least the weekend to take a break from their writing. 

Next week, is the final installment of Getting Kids to Write.  I'll talk about the final stage, Publishing.  This is the exciting time for the kids!

AND, on a personal note...

Happy Birthday, MOM!

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