Conduct Focused Edits
After you complete a mini-lesson series on a specific conventions skill, and you feel students are ready to be held accountable for the skill, it’s time to add it to the editing checklist.
Grow the list
Consider the difference between adding a skill to the list and passing out a pre-made checklist. At the beginning of the year, if you gave students the complete laundry list of conventions skills, they would simply check the boxes, and declare they are “done.” Rather, begin the year having students edit for only 1-2 skills. Eventually, add one skill at a time to the list as you provide explicit instruction. It’s a growing checklist.
Limit the focus
In addition to using a shorter, growing list, also teach students to conduct focused editing. Instead of looking for all the required skills in one reading, they should plan to reread their writing for each skill individually.
A fun way to encourage focused editing is with plastic glasses. Pop the lenses out of colorful sunglasses and have students execute x-ray editing.
Assign a pair of glasses to each skill on the editing checklist and a coordinating pen color. If the checklist indicates orange means they should edit for accurate use of possessives in their writing, then they read the entire piece for application of possessives only. Any errors are to be fixed with the orange pen.
Then, as they reread their writing for the next skill, they switch the color of their glasses and pens to coincide with the skill color noted on the list.
Depending on how many glasses and different colors you have, students could do multiple rounds of x-ray editing.
Differentiate the focus
Now, imagine the editing checklist growing with each new convention skill taught. Eventually the list will be long–too long. No matter how much fun the glasses are, no one is going to read his writing that many times. Now is the time to differentiate.
Next to the long checklist, identify the students who need to edit for that skill. Not all students are ready for the more sophisticated skills. And some students have begun to routinely incorporate certain convention skills within their first drafts.
Consequently, communicate to each student which 3-4 skills he must edit for. This allows them to conduct a focused edit at their own levels.