What is the difference between editing and revising?
When it comes to talking about teaching writing I feel like editing and revising often get lumped together as almost the same thing. Editing and revising are different methods to looking at a finished piece of writing.
Revising is when we look at our finished writing and aim to make it sound better. I like to tell my students throughout the writing process that our goal is always to get our readers to picture our words in their heads. Revising is a way to make these pictures more vivid.
As I teach my writing units (personal and fictional narratives, informative, and opinion) the revision process is adapted to what I am teaching. For example, in a fiction writing unit we are revising to look for writing that is descriptive of setting and characters. When we are writing opinion pieces we revise to look at our introductions and supporting details.
Because I thrive on keeping things consistent in my teaching, I have several key points we look at when revising any type of piece. These are:
Removing unnecessary words
Moving words around
When you keep the basis of the process the same throughout the year, students will begin to remember what to do. Then, it’s just a matter of teaching the different details that make each style of writing unique.
Editing is when we look at our finished writing piece and we edit it to make the writing more clear and clean up any mistakes. This is the time to check for spelling and punctuation.
Just like with revising, I teach my students the same process every time we edit a piece. We look for:
Adding to make sense
When should I teach revising and editing?
Second graders should arrive to my class with a basic grasp of how to write a story. I like to take a few weeks at the beginning of the year to establish my routines for our writer’s workshop time.
After a few weeks of building routines and writing stamina I dive into my first writing unit - narrative writing. Since revising and editing is part of publishing during the writing process, I begin teaching revising and editing when we are choosing our first piece to publish.
How often should students edit and revise?
I like to model my writing lessons off of how authors practice the writing craft. When writers write, they do not publish everything they write. Instead they pick the best writing and work on that piece when deciding to go forward with publishing.
In class we do not publish every piece of writing. Most days our writing is practice leading up to a finished piece after a few weeks. Often our finished pieces will be put through the publishing process which for us begins with revising and then editing.
What can I do to prevent confusion between revising and editing?
Even adults can become confused about the difference between revising and editing. I like to teach them on separate days. When first learning how to revise it may take us a couple of days to go through the process of checking our work. Likewise with editing.
Having students go through each step on different days can help prevent confusion. Students will be focused on just one task each day - either editing or revising, but not both.
The other way to prevent confusion is to use different color pens for each step. I like to use blue for revising and red for editing. This also helps students to recognize that revising and editing are separate processes.