For the first nine weeks Tracy and I have faithfully added a couple of sentences to our white board each morning as a morning message for the students to edit. We have concentrated this first nine weeks on capitals at the beginning of sentences, the capital I, capitals of names of people and places, ending punctuation, and spelling of high frequency words and the phonics skills we are studying. Although the children had gotten very good at editing the sentences, the rules didn't seem to be transferring into their writing. The very student who would find every period in the morning message would then begin a Writers' Workshop piece and not use a single ending punctuation!
So... we decided to try something different this second nine weeks. We decided to go right down the list of students and have each child in turn choose a piece of their own writing for the class to edit. The class would edit the first two sentences of the student's writing, just as we had the morning message. The difference would be that the student who was having his piece edited by the class would be more vested in the process and we would begin to show the students what we expect when we ask them to work with their writing partner and edit each other's work. We put the selected piece under the document camera and hit "freeze" which freezes the piece onto the white board. Then as students come up and edit the piece on the board, just as they did the morning message, the child with the chosen piece can make the same edits of his own paper. We also make sure that we point out all the great things that the student is doing so that they feel good about the process. So far this has seemed to be working. Two different students have changed the spelling of "wuz" to "was" in a new piece after having their papers edited by their peers and several have finally begun to use the capital I and one began a new piece for the first time with a capital. This editing practice does seem to be making the difference! It will be interesting to see how this new idea works over time!