Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Boosting Editing Skills of ELLs

Editing is a skill that all students must eventually master if they are to write convincing arguments on paper.  It is a skill that basically develops over time with lots of focused practice.  For English language learners, structured focused practice under the guidance of a teacher (regular feedback) is a must if they are to become fully proficient writers in English. 

So how does a teacher address editing in class so that everyone will benefit from it and no one will feel singled out (an ELL's biggest fear)?  Incorporate it into every writing activity.  It is a MUST-DO for every type of writing regardless of the eventual career entered.  Poorly written work detracts from any argument on paper in any content area.

Take students through the process by modeling and using think-aloud activities.  Here the teacher pulls up a piece of student writing (no name and not from the period in which the activity is being conducted), puts it under the document camera, and starts demonstrating the editing process by "discussing" aloud items in the writing that "just don't sound correct."  Students truly enjoy teachers acting out the process (a little humor never hurts), but more importantly, it sets them up to continue the process with a partner or within a small carefully structured cooperative learning group (no bigger than 4).

Let students know that editing gets easier with practice.  Students will soon become more aware of the types of mistakes they make.  Once this is clear, they know what to look for as they review their work.  Further, have students review the work of other students.  They won't correct grammar, but they can note what areas they were not clear on or what sections they particularly liked and why.  A teacher should be the third reader in the process and not the first. 




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