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!