December 21st, 2012
Question 10: I believe it is extremely important to have students attend to conventions at every stage of the writing process but it’s hard for students and teachers to manage this. What are some suggestions for holding students accountable for editing/conventions throughout the writing process instead of just at the editing stage?
Jeff’s response: I agree that we should have students attend to conventions at every stage of the writing process and it can be tough to manage. Certainly, telling kids that all of their writing should be perfect at every stage would be counterproductive, but using what you know as you write is a good idea for making meaning. What we want is their attention to conventions. Not fear. Not worry.
To keep the conversation going and their attention piqued, I recommend using the invitational grammar and editing process described specifically in my book Everyday Editing (2007). In short, I display a mentor sentence that models a particular editing or grammar skill I want my students to know and use.
Let’s say I want students to use a comma after an introductory clause or phrase. I don’t start with definitions or rules. I start with a model or mentor sentence like these from Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants:
George and Harold were usually responsible kids. Whenever something bad happened, George and Harold were usually responsible (p.2)
If I want my students to attend to conventions and how they merge with the craft of writing, then I set up a bite-sized chunk of text like this to get the conversation started. According to neurologist David Eagleman, by having a conversation about anything we bring it to the brain’s conscious level of attention. This process is followed by imitation and some other invitations—more than I can put in a blog entry—but do check out Everyday Editing if this is a method you’d like to look at closely. It is the focus of the book.
Entry Filed under: Writing