Top tips when talking to children about editing

If the cost of delivering an error-free piece of writing is that children feel they never want to write again, then that cost is too high.

Leaning over children’s shoulders – jabbing with your finger and demanding ‘Where are your fullstops?’  Hours spent putting red pen all over children’s writing.  Despairing cries of ‘These children don’t even know how to write a sentence!’ or ‘Not a single capital letter in the whole piece!’

It doesn’t have to be like this.

Rather than wielding the red pen and making everyone’s lives a misery, we suggest that, at the beginning of proof-reading sessions, you and your assistant teacher engage in pupil-conferencing (Ferguson & Young 2021). Always begin a conference with a child by celebrating the conventions children are using. Here are some phrases you can use:

  • Whoa, I can certainly see that you’re a writer who knows to…
  • Wow, look at all those…
  • I really love how you’ve used … that’s really going to help your reader out.
  • This is a very reader-friendly piece of writing you’ve put together here because you’ve…
  • These are fantastic. You’re really thinking about your reader.
  • Would you look at that? This is great! Why did you use…. ?
  • I can tell you’re a great proof-reader, look at how you’ve…

If you are interested in reading about how to develop a whole-school approach to developing proof-readers, buy our latest eBook:

In No More: My Pupils Can’t Edit, Felicity Ferguson & Ross Young invite schools and teachers to make proof-reading a rigorous and meaningful part of their class writing projects. Despite the fact that expectations for transcriptional accuracy have never been higher, schools and teachers often find it difficult to teach children to proof-read with precision and enthusiasm. This book looks to change that.

This practical guide offers an overview of The Writing For Pleasure Centre’s approach, and provides a progression for proof-reading from the EYFS-KS2. It also contains over 50 exemplar lessons taken from their affiliate schools. These lessons cover the EYFS Framework and National Curriculum objectives efficiently and effectively.

What’s special about this book is the way in which each lesson teaches children the whys of proof-reading procedures and illustrates how, as editors, they can use them for themselves. Children learn to make their writing ‘reader-friendly’ and ‘reader-ready’ prior to publication for real audiences.

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