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Making Editing Fun!

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Last updated by Jill Hammonds

Draft writing

How many of your students can't wait to complete the writing of their stories so that they can get onto the editing phase? Wink  Yes that's right - editing can be fun when you use the right tools.  Students generally hate editing because they muck up that which has taken them ages to draft, and then they get to rewrite it again neatly - BORING!!!!

With "Track Changes" they get to see everything colour tracked that they alter at the editing phase and can save a copy of this, and then highlight all and have the final copy! Cool

"Track Changes" is part of the Reviewing toolbar in both Word (PC and Mac) and Pages (Mac).  You only switch on this feature once the students have completed the drafting phase AND BEFORE THE EDITING BEGINS.

In Word, this "Review" toolbar is usually one of the menus at the top of the page. 

Review Toolbar - Track changes   

If you can't find the toolbar in your version, click on the "Help" menu and type in "Track changes".  This should point you to the location in your version of the software.

On the new toolbar there will be an icon called "Track changes".  
Turning on tracking   

Click on this to turn it on and every change you make will now be highlighted in a different colour.  You can also leave comments for the writer when conferencing or marking.
Leaving comments
Tracked 1

Sometimes with resequencing the tracking can get quite busy, so then I highlight and accept the changes and save several tracked iterations.  You can then go on and track more changes, saving with every accept in order to keep a record of the work done at this phase.

partial edit

There are two possibilities for displaying the tracking - balloons on and balloons off.  Here is what tracking looks like with balloons on.  

Tracked 2

You can make this choice in the Review preferences - Go to Show Mark Up -> Preferences
Setting tracking preferences  

Once the student is happy with their work they highlight all and accept the changes using the icon with a tick.
Accepting the changes
Accept changes

This iteration is then saved as the published version.

Because they can demonstrate the changes made during editing, students can now be allocated or choose particular goals to be worked on during the editing phase in order to assist the reader and give them a better experience .  Be sure to choose deep features first followed by surface features (the deep features make the most difference to the quality of the writing and may modify or remove sections - so no point in putting in the traffic lights and correcting spelling if those sections disappear during editing.

  • resequencing so that your story flows well for the reader.
  • inserting descriptive vocabulary to paint vivid pictures in the mind of the reader- adjectives, simile, metaphor, onomatopeia (use sparingly or you get an over stated unnatural flow to the story - like too much icing on a cake.
  • substituting richer verbs or adding adverbs again to enrich those picture images for the reader.
  • cutting out the ramble that switches off the reader
  • Using conjunctions to vary sentence length for better flow for the reader
  • checking spelling and punctuation to assist the reader to decode the text
NOTE: Students are more willing to spend time editing when they understand the need - always talk about the reader and their needs - and then ensure you use the eTools to create audience and feedback from those readers
 To date I have used this with many classes and have always found that it removes that mile high barrier about editing.  Kids love to see the changes while also getting credit for their efforts (be sure they are given credit), but the technology removes the drudgery of the final rewrite.
As often as possible. writing should then be pasted into blogs or other online areas where you have worked to get regular audience and feedback for your writers.  Students will not see themselves as authors if their work is never published, publicly acknowledged and genuine feedback received.  Wherever you choose to publish their work online, make reading blogs part of regular reading rotation activities - find some good blogs that model the writing you want to see, and find some examples of lesser work where your students can pass on the sort of feedback they receive on their work.  In both cases, teach your students how to leave constructive feedback and include a link back to your class blog.  This will encourage traffic and feedback for your writers - you need to give in order to receive.
Finally, another bit of fun that takes the nag out of conferencing with students at the "overuse of and or then" stage.  Copy one such story and take it through into Wordle (http://wordle.net).  Paste it into the text box and press Go.  In the Language menu ensure "Do not remove common words" is ticked.  Now show the Wordle to the student and ask them what it is telling them about their story, noting that the most frequently used words are in the largest font.

Use of these tools will really help to raise achievement in writing.