Editing (Math Curse)

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Enough copies for all your students, of the deliberately error-laden, "From The Adventures of Math Girl" (see "handouts/attachments" below). Students need pencils. You will also need a Smartboard, an LCD, a whiteboard, or a blackboard.


Students need to know the standard editing marks for adding paragraphs, capital letters, commas, inserting quotation marks, apostrophes, correcting misspellings, and adding or moving text.


I. Introductory Activities:
• Start by telling students that I started another version of my story (I'm writing a series). Talk to the students about how the first time I write, I just sit down and get my ideas out. I don't really focus on grammar or spelling. But editing is really important if I want people to be able to read and understand what I wrote.

II. Procedures and Strategies:
• Give everyone a copy of my story. Tell them they are going to help me edit my first draft. Give the students about 10 minutes to work on editing individually. Then give them another 10 minutes to discuss editing with a partner (combine edits, talk about questions, etc.)

• Ask students "what kinds of errors did I make?" Make a list on the SMART Board. The list should include capitalizing, paragraphs, homophones (their, there, they're, for, four, to, too, two, which, witch), "text"/slang spelling, formatting dialogue, and planning page breaks.

• Ask the students why they think I gave them a draft with these types of errors (responses, because these are common errors). Talk to the students about how everyone makes simple mistakes their first time, but most of us know the correct way to do things.

Tell the students that when you give something to your editor, you want it to be your best work. You don't give your editor something with mistakes you can fix on your own. It's a waste of their time, and it would be very expensive for you. Editors charge about a dollar and a half per page, but if there are too many mistakes they will raise the basic charge.

It's the same thing with the teacher. It's a waste of the teacher's time to fix errors in papers that students know how to fix.

I know you can fix these types of errors (referring to the list) because you just did, so when you give me your first drafts, these types of errors should already be fixed. If you give me a story to edit with these types of errors still uncorrected, I will give it back to you because you are wasting my time. I have (number of students in your class) papers to edit and I don't want to fix things you or a friend of yours could have fixed.

Suggestions for Student Work: Students complete their edit of, "From the Adventures of Math Girl."

Control Of Error

Use "Track Changes" to make a complete edit of "From the Adventures of Math Girl." This can serve as a control of error for students. It will provide a graphic measure of a thorough edit, against which students can measure their own thoroughness.

In addition, the teacher must be prepared to turn back papers than contain errors students know how to correct. This follow-through will establish a climate for conscientious editing.

Points Of Interest

The teacher adopts a tone of a busy editor who doesn't have time to waste on careless writing.


Direct Aim: to teach students how to edit their own work by focussing on common errors

Indirect Aim: to create an atmosphere of professionalism when it comes to editing.


The teacher may write up a draft of her own, and use the same process. Students feel empowered when asked to help a teacher edit her work.