Even students who love creating stories might not be too excited about the editing and revising part of the writing process. (The same goes for professional authors, too!) The good news is that editing can be fun and easy with a good strategy. These tips will help you teach your elementary students to edit their own writing effectively while learning not only of how to edit their work, but why they should want to in the first place.





Tip #1: Give the writing room to breathe.

give the writing room to breathe when editingI’ll never forget the first lesson one of my own teachers taught me about self-editing when I was in elementary school. “You can’t edit your own work right away,” she told us. “If you read it now, you’re reading the version that’s still in your head. To edit, you have to read with fresh eyes.” And it’s true—nothing is harder than trying to edit work directly after writing it. Teach your students patience and good editing at the same time by taking time between drafting and revising lessons to give their writing room to breathe. Have them come back to their work a day, or even several days, later, in order to give them a fresh perspective that will make it easier to edit their own writing objectively.

Tip #2: Make a fresh copy.

This strategy serves a dual purpose. First, it addresses any anxiety that your students may feel about marking up their own work. After all, they worked hard on that first draft—erasing, striking out or annotating their only draft can be stressful for some elementary students, especially if mistakes are made along the way. Having an extra copy to work on means they’ll always have that first, untouched draft handy if they need it.

Second, it encourages your students to take their time while editing their work. It’s all too tempting to simply skim through something you’ve read before—particularly if you’re the one who wrote it. Having to copy down their original draft helps them to focus on one word at a time, making it easier for them to see small spelling and grammar errors they might have otherwise overlooked.

Tip #3: Give them a clear rubric to work with.

clear rubrics are great for editingYou can’t edit if you don’t know what to look for. Be sure to give your students a clear, easy-to-follow rubric that will help them stay both organized and objective while editing their own work, like this “Spot On” editing checklist for grades K-1, or this “Take a Closer Look” worksheet for grades 2-3.



Tip #4: Isolate the variables.

isolate the variables when editing student writingIf your students are new to editing and revising their own work, the most effective way to learn is to focus on one thing at a time. For instance, you might ask them to highlight or circle the first letter of every sentence. Are they all capitalized, or did they miss some? For more advanced writers, you might provide a list of overused words—such as this “Watch Out!” vocabulary worksheet—for students to find in their work and replace with better, more descriptive or evocative terms or phrases.


Tip #5: Put the lesson into context by publishing their work!

If your students are asking themselves (or you) what the point of the lesson is, or why they should learn it, it’s probably because it feels like busy work. While practice is certainly important when it comes to perfecting the art of editing, it’s just as important that your students can see the value of editing beyond completing the assignment in front of them. This is why writing and editing their own work, and then seeing it published and enjoyed by others is so powerful.

With a free publishing kit (or digital bookmaker), you and your students will have everything they need to draft, refine and submit an original manuscript to be published. In just a matter of weeks, a very special package will arrive in the mail containing their brand new, professionally bound and printed books!

editing student work to publishing student books

#Proudauthors of Berkley Street Elementary School celebrate publishing day with a luau-themed party.


Helping Your Students Edit Their Writing Effectively

Just a few simple steps can make all the difference when teaching your students to edit effectively. By showing them how to read their work with fresh eyes, making extra copies, providing them with clear guidelines, focusing on one point at a time and, perhaps most importantly, showing them why editing matters so much, you can help them strengthen both their writing skills and their sense of follow-through. Both will serve them well throughout this academic year and beyond.

Looking for more teaching tips, lesson plans or other classroom resources? Check out our online teacher’s lounge, and be sure to sign up for your free publishing kit!


Image sources: Lead image via Shutterstock; Images 1, 2, via OpenClipart.org; Images 3, 4 via Studentreasures; Image 5 via Twitter