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Editing Level 1 Writing, Part 2

Here again is an example of a 3rd grade student’s weekly writing, this time tied to the story, The Night Crossing. While it was pointed out that the student didn’t describe an inanimate “object or objects” tied to Christmas or birthdays, it is clear in the writing that it is the people who make the celebrations special, even though the idea of “presents” is offered. These are the things that are important to notice as we shelter the ideas of young writers.

At this point in the year, this was the third Level 1 journal for this student, I had the student join me at my desk and read aloud what she wrote as I made little notes directly on her rough draft.


Often times, the student has crafted a terrific hook a sentence or two into the writing (sometimes we stumble upon it at the very end!). This one happened to be the second sentence. Instead of combining the two thoughts she wrote as topic openers, we decided to rearrange and punch the sentence with a little alliteration:

I love two celebrations because they both involve presents and people.

In doing so, I got to share with her the fact that writers love to inject sound into writing and, that putting words that begin with the same consonant together is called alliteration. And then I chanted: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers…!” This lesson will likely stick more so than working through an unrelated worksheet exercise on alliteration. Why? Because this is the student’s original idea, it is meaningful, relevant.

Misspellings and Capitalizations

In this paragraph there are two misspellings. I noted them with a check mark and corrected them in a list in the white space of the rough draft. Capitalization mistakes were simply corrected as the student read and a reminder was made to copy capitalization correctly in the final draft.

What else…?

Instead of delving too deep into content changes, at Level 1, try to encourage details in the form of additions. What else do you do on birthdays? What else do you do to celebrate Christmas?


Because the student used the word “also” in the “what else” idea, I suggested omitting “also” in the previous sentence.

Next week we might focus on word choice. For example, the concluding sentence, the TWIST at the end, might become more interesting with some added specificity of “fun” and “amazing” activities. But for this week, battles have been chosen! It’s time for the student to polish this little idea.

Ultimately, the goal with Level 1 writers is to shelter the idea of the young writer with editorial feedback to grow skills.