In an earlier blog post, the importance of editing in the writing process was highlighted.  COW provides an “Edit Mode” which can be a valuable tool for teachers in teaching their students some rudimentary skills in the fine art of editing.

Step 1- Give Them a Reason for Editing

Give students a reason for embarking on the process of editing. Have them choose one piece of writing in COW they would like to have published in a class anthology, printed out to take home, handed in for evaluation, or some other reason to revisit  their writing and improve upon it.

Step 2– Look Back at the Stats Page

After the students have chosen the piece of writing in COW they would like to edit, have them open the story and look at the stats page.

Step 3– Choose Three Areas for Improvement

Examine the stats page carefully, and look for areas which would improve the writing.  In looking at the stats, they may want to ask the following questions:

a.  Do I need more variety in sentence length?

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b.  Do I need more variety in the words I use as sentence starters?

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c.  Do I need more adjectives?  Do I need more or fewer adverbs?

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d.  Do I need to add more descriptions using the five senses?

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e.  Do I overuse some words?  Should I replace some of these with other words?

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f.  Was my writing consistent in terms of tense (past, present, future)?

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Have students choose no more than three areas to improve in their writing.

Step 4-  Rework the Story in Edit Mode

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Step 5– Examine the New Stats Page

Once the students have edited their work, have them re-run the stats page.  They can then examine the new stats for their revised writing and actually see whether their editing has resulted in changes to the stats in a positive way.

The fine art of editing goes way beyond these areas of consideration in writing.  However, it will benefit students greatly to see their efforts in editing returned to them in vivid statistical feedback.  From this quantitative measure of editing success, they can see how revisiting their writing and paying attention to specific details can result in greatly improved writing.