Writing Class Round-Up


Some posts most relevant to teaching writing:

The Writing Course

Highlighting the Value of a Writing Course

Shaping a Writing Course

Reading in a Writing Class


Process Writing

The Point of Writing


A Small Victory


Editing and Peer Review

Seven Editing Challenges

Scaffolding Editing

Scaffolding Peer Review


Citations and Plagiarism

Plagiarism vs. Real Life

Communicating About Plagiarism

On Teaching Citations


Photo Credit: Chris Gladis on Flickr

You’re reading Writing Class Round-Up, originally posted at LearningToTeachEnglish.com.


Scaffolding Editing

2750551146_1d22ab2e84Last week, I described several factors that make editing a particularly difficult task for ESL students.

Today, I’m going to offer some ideas for scaffolding editing in an academic writing setting. They’re based on my own experiences (including some from this semester in my lead teacher’s classroom), advice that’s been given to me, and my own ideas.

This is sort of a mini Activity Corner of its own, all about editing!

Strategies for Scaffolding Editing


Strategies to incorporate into your writing class routine

  • Practice writing the same information in several ways. Juggle clauses, use synonyms, use short sentences and long ones, etc.
  • Hand out example work that needs editing side by side with how you would change it. You’ll need to emphasize that this is not The Answer Key – just a pretty good answer. This could be a good information gap activity for small groups.
  • Practice editing a sentence or two together as a class each day as a warm-up. You could focus on grammar, word choice, style, hook/thesis/topic sentence effectiveness, etc.

Teacher Edits

Strategies for marking written assignments at home

  • Don’t fix things that you want your students to learn when you edit their writing. Identify errors for them, but let the fixing be the students’ job.
  • With minor errors, either let them go or quick write in that missing “the.”
  • Use codes (i.e. WW = wrong word) and/or color codes (i.e. yellow = I don’t understand, pink = This is great!!) in-line to help them identify specific errors and give them a clue as to what’s wrong. Be consistent with your code all semester.

Peer Review

Strategies for students to help edit each other’s writing

  • Prep the class for peer review and support their skills as reviewers with this Peer Review Scaffolding activity. You can do this to review each other’s homework, example thesis statements, etc.
  • Set students up to give and receive both positive and negative feedback. Make it the expectation and build it into the task itself.
  • If you use a code when you edit student work, consider having the student use that code (or part of it) to mark each other’s work.
  • Consider using a short checklist or yes/no questions to keep students focused.

Student Corrections

Strategies for having students correct their own writing, after teacher edits and/or peer review

  • Offer bonus points or a few “points back” if students choose to submit corrections. Set an upper limit on how many points they can earn.
  • Identify each student’s most common (or serious) error types and assign corrections on these. Corrections should be on separate paper and include a short explanation of why the change is correct. Note: this is really difficult and time-consuming for students. From what I hear though, it really pays off.

In The Moment

Strategies for when you’re circulating in class and a student is stuck on an editing task: 

  • Ask the student to read it out loud. This can be especially helpful with punctuation. Note: this will probably help auditory learners and Global English speakers more than it will help your book learners and hesitant speakers.
  • Target the basic organization: paragraph level, then sentence order. Ask the student if the organization is strong and every sentence is where it needs to be.
  • Target the shortest sentences. They’re the easiest to get right.
  • Target the longest sentences. They’re the easiest to garble. There is likely a problem.
  • When targeting long sentences, have the student break it into multiple short sentences on scratch paper. This can help them see the structure and fix the errors in the longer sentence.

What do you have to add?

Would it be useful if I spelled out details and examples of any of these strategies? Let me know in the comments!


Photo Credit: julian on Flickr

You’re reading Scaffolding Editing, originally posted at LearningToTeachEnglish.com.

Seven Editing Challenges

4312413546_763699022fWhen it comes to editing in academic writing, we want our ESL students to be able to cope with paragraphs and pages of text and a cornucopia of authentic error types.

That’s a tall order!

We’ve been doing some editing work in the class I’m assisting in right now. Even though I know that editing is hard and confusing, I’m getting a fresh reminder of just what a complex task it is.

Some considerations:

Moving Target
With writing, there is more than one “right” answer, so it can be hard for students to know exactly what they’re aiming for.

The sheer number of possible error types just within one sentence is overwhelming.

Each sentence might be great as a stand-alone sentence, but in context they might be constructed too similarly, comprise a flawed argument, be superfluous, etc.

Paragraph- and essay-level organization is also tricky, and to some degree specific expectations are cultural so must be learned through a lot of exposure and practice.

Nesting Dolls
Sometimes, there are errors within errors within errors. It’s difficult for students to identify and label them all, and it’s not always intuitive to them which is the teeny baby problem and which is the big one that encases a bunch of the others.

Domino Effect
There can be chains of errors, where fixing one central error makes other elements of the sentence (or paragraph or essay) shift, likely causing more edits. These are especially painful to come across after significant editing has already been done.

Wrecking Ball
Sometimes, it’s best to strike out what’s there and rebuild it. But most textbook exercises are made to be fixed rather than obliterated. With authentic errors, it’s not always reasonable to fix them by bits and pieces. From my observations, I get the sense that students aren’t necessarily comfortable slashing out whole sentences or paragraphs from the piece they’re editing.

My lead teacher and I are working hard to scaffold our students to face these editing challenges.

Next week, I’ll post some strategies we’ve used in class and other strategies that could also be used. [Update: editing strategies post]

Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis on Flickr

You’re reading Seven Editing Challenges, originally posted at LearningToTeachEnglish.com.

On Obsessive Editing

I’d just like to say that I’m really jealous of people who can just jot down a quick blog post and click “Publish.” I go over a post again and again, and rework it, and go over it yet again, and at the end I still wind up with spelling errors and logic jumps.

I actually really enjoy it. I’m just saying that writing takes me a long time.

That’s all for now, because if I wrote more this would never get published.