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Now look at this list which illustrates the different steps in the writing process and shows how they align to each of the traits. Notice that revision is greedy—five traits ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency out of seven align with this stage of writing.

Conventions spelling, capitalization, punctuation, grammar and presentation appearance are editing skills that require different thinking and teaching than their revision-oriented sister traits. The traits are the specific skills writers need to strengthen their writing and drive it forward during revision; in this way traits and revision are inextricably linked.


But even if students are fortunate enough to be in a classroom that uses the trait language, they need guidance on how to use traits to drive the revision process. Should they dive into ideas first, or organization, voice, word choice, or sentence fluency? Or combinations of these traits? How do they know what to tackle first?

It can be an overwhelming prospect for teachers and students alike. The question becomes how to make revision doable for students and teachers using what they have learned about each of the traits and its key qualities.

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We can begin by differentiating between revision traits and editing traits. Using the terms revision and editing differently and specifically will make it clear which part of the writing process you want students to focus on as they massage their drafts.

This will be a big step toward clarity on its own. However, it takes more than a general understanding; students need to refine skills in both areas, one year to the next in a spiraling curriculum, so their writing deepens and shows more complexity as it matures.

As students move into the editing phase of writing, they put on the visor or hat to indicate they are now checking spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. It helps them make the switch from revision to editing and lets the teacher know what stage they are in as well. If your goal is only to make the writing look correct, you can edit the writing to mind the manners of the English language conventions.

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But good writing—and good writing instruction—is about more than just fixing. Each part has its place in the writing process. In Teach Writing Well , I explore how the revision and editing processes become manageable when we zero in on what matters, one key quality at a time. I also introduce a powerful approach I call the Writing Wallet.

The purpose of the Writing Wallet is to help students learn to revise and feel that they can face writing challenges with skill, knowledge, and confidence. The bottom line is that it will take the whole school year to teach and practice each of the key qualities of the traits. Will students learn everything there is to know about each of the key qualities during their time with you?

Certainly not. But if you provide modeling, creative instruction no worksheets! Think of the writing stamina they will develop as they learn the value of working and reworking a piece for each key quality over time. Then imagine what they will know about writing and how it works if this process is repeated year after year in a spiraling curriculum. Dream Wakers expands and complements this work by delving into books that focus on Latino culture and life as mentor texts for writing. Her newest book, Teach Writing Well , offers specific guidance to teachers on designing lessons that scaffold students toward making their own craft decisions and revisions.

Teaching Writing or Editing Writing?

This post is adapted from Chapter 5. The illustrations from the book are used with permission. Tags: editing prewrite revision Ruth Culham six traits Stenhouse student writing teaching writing. MiddleWeb is all about the middle grades, with great resources, book reviews, and guest posts by educators who support the success of young adolescents. I would like to add a thought. Sometimes a writer needs to step back and let the draft rest for a little while before trying to revise.

But now I can hopefully use it in mentoring situations. Mastery of this should be required of all teachers, every level. I really like this approach. We can help students most by teaching them how to see and make choices when working with ideas. We can introduce students to a process of generating and sorting ideas by teaching them how to use exercises to build ideas.

With an understanding of how to discover and arrange ideas, they will have more success in getting their ideas onto the page in clear prose. Through critical thinking exercises, students move from a vague or felt sense about course material to a place where they can make explicit the choices about how words represent their ideas and how they might best arrange them.

In order to write a paper for a class, students need ways to move from the received knowledge of the course material to some separate, more synthesized or analyzed understanding of the course material. This thinking is often furthered through class discussion and some students automatically, internally move from these initial sortings of ideas into complex, logical interpretations of material at this point.

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But, for more students, their thinking will remain an unorganized, vague set of ideas referring to the subject. The following activities will help students both generate and clarify initial responses to course material:. Once students have something on the page to work with, they can begin the decision-making process crucial to developing a coherent idea or argument.

At this point, students will choose which ideas most appeal to them, which ideas seem to fit together, which ideas need to be set aside, and which ideas need further exploration. The following activities will help students make decisions as they shape ideas:. These exercises may ease their entry into shaping their ideas for an assignment:.

As students use language to shape ideas, they begin to feel the need to test their ideas or move beyond their own perspectives.