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Day 22: How Editing Became Joyful

Kids all over the room popped out of their seats yelling, “I’m done! I’m done! Mrs. Mulligan, I’m finished” Now, I know Lucy Calkin’s saying, “When you are done, you’ve just begun,” but these kids needed a quick win. Yes they do need to write many more books, but at this moment, they wanted to get these pieces out into the world. So I put my vision of writing workshop on the shelf and spent the next writing time teaching kids how to “fancy up” their writing – aka EDIT. So what did we do?

I cut up the editing check sheet and gave strips to different kids based on what I know about them as writers.

Once the students had their strips in hand, they glued them onto a piece of oak tag (I know. Only very old teachers say the word oak tag, but I am old, so it works for me.) Once the gluing was complete, I modeled how to reread and edit with one focus in mind at a time. Then kids set off to work.

As I watched these writers work, that panicky feeling churned in my head. At any moment, I knew the “I’m all set” comments were coming my way. To head this off, I named and noticed when students edited something – anything! Honestly, when I found a nugget of editing, I cheered, “Writers – let’s all celebrate and do the “editing dance.” Then I sang – “Doot— Doot—- Doot, Doot, Doot,” and waved my fingers in the air and shook my hips. In an instant, kids joined in. (Good thing these kids are little because this would have never worked in 4th or 5th grade.) I have no idea where this dance or song came from, but I knew we needed something unconventional.

Instead of a peaceful writing workshop with quiet music playing in the background, kids called out, “I used the word wall to fix my spelling.” Others cheered, “I put a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence.” With each editing triumph, we sang and danced, and the sound of children happily editing filled the classroom.

Now, as I edit this post in the early morning hours, I can’t help but smile because I am humming, “Doot— Doot—- Doot, Doot, Doot.”

I hope you and your students have many days of happy writing and joyful editing moments.

Happy Holidays! Happy Writing, and Happy Editing!

10 thoughts on “Day 22: How Editing Became Joyful”

  1. Love this: Writers – let’s all celebrate and do the “editing dance.” Then I sang – “Doot— Doot—- Doot, Doot, Doot,” and waved my fingers in the air and shook my hips

    You are so my kind of teacher, my kind of friend actually! Are you still live with the kids? If you are, lucky you and lucky them. XO PS good idea to do the Do. dah dance instead of naming the dreaded edit!

  2. I love this! It’s so honest. I wish I was there because it sounds so joyful and fun. Also, that was so smart to only give kids certain strips based on what you knew about them. So responsive!

  3. Editing as an act of joy – who’d have thought?! Yet here’s proof! You’re so right – kids often DO need a “quick win.” Editing (and revising, for that matter) ought not feel like slicing and bloodletting… fabulous idea with the editing strips on “oak tag” plus that song… this was a joy to read. Many thanks.

  4. Oh yes, a win is needed and you found the perfect solution to the “I’m done!” song. I so enjoy these glimpses into this life in first grade.

  5. You make me laugh — the oak tag aside is priceless. And a random editing dance? How can anyone go wrong with that? Perhaps workshop works when we follow the whimsy that happens when there’s a community of writers? I’m so happy you write with #sosmagic.

  6. Editing dance! Wish I thought of it! I’m going to try it with our 2nd graders! They are girls. They will dance. I probably won’t be able to stop them! Writing with children is pure joy! Thank you for your insights and humor. And PS – I call it oak tag too – and I am very old!

  7. Ha-ha. Editing dance. We should all have a revision and editing dance to keep writing a joy throughout the process. Thank you!

  8. I wish I could LOVE this post 🙂 I mean I do love it, lol, I wish there were a love button to click. SO happy that you chose joy, celebration, and accomplishment. Rock on! You are a gift to your students.

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