Stream of consciousness in blogging is a wonderful way for a writer to express oneself without getting hung up on the mechanics of writing. I love to see my students go to town and write what is in their hearts and minds without hesitation and worry that “this may not be what the teacher wants.” I tell them often, “Write what you mean and mean what you write.” I want to teach my students that the editing process comes later, and to not let editing get in the way of their ideas and construction of rough drafts. This goes for both blog posts and comments that my students write.
The editing process can be grueling for some students (and some teachers as well!) I prefer to conference one on one with my students before they publish and iron out editing issues with each individual child. I find that each child has different editing needs and comes to me with a unique knowledge of spelling, grammar rules, punctuation, word usage, and sentence structure. In past years I have heard myself teaching and reteaching basic lessons in these areas to individual students that I know they have learned in previous classes.
I devised a way this year to help my students self-edit more efficiently so their conferences with me will be more productive and allow them to take additional ownership over their editing. This year I am arming them with blog posts I have written and pinned on the site called “Mini Lessons”. These Mini Lessons allow students to have, at their fingertips, guidelines, helpful hints, rules, and suggestions for different areas of writing. I started with three Mini Lessons, and as I see areas where students need more input during the year, I will continue to add more. Currently the three Mini Lessons in my class address the topics of using plural vs possessive nouns, substituting descriptive words for commonly used words, and general guidelines for commenting on students’ blog posts.
Here is an example of a Mini Lesson I have written for my students to reference this year. The feedback I’ve received from students has been positive. They feel that this particular Mini Lessons is short, to the point, and helpful when they are in question about word choice:
Mini Lesson: Plural or Possessive?
Are you using apostrophes in the right places when you write? So many times we aren’t sure if we need one, so we stick one in, just in case!
Here are a few things to remember if you are not sure if you need to use an apostrophe:
*Is there a number or number word in the sentence? A number or number word tells you that there is more than one item, which means it is plural. Don’t use an apostrophe if you are talking about a number of things:
I have three books.
I have three book’s.
There are many apples in the basket.
There are many apple’s in the basket.
*Are you writing about something that belongs to someone? If an item belongs to someone, that means that someone possesses that item, so you need an apostrophe to show that the word is possessive:
This is my family’s car.
This is my families car.
Deciding on whether or not to use an apostrophe if you are writing about many people or things owning many things can be confusing. If the word is plural, ending with an “s”, AND it shows possession of something, use an apostrophe after the “s”:
The frogs’ croaks were very loud. (This means that many frogs each have a croak!)
The frog’s croaks were very loud (This means that ONE frog had many croaks!)
Its and it’s can be confusing. If you can substitute “it is” in the sentence, then you will need to use it’s. If you can’t substitute “it is”, then you don’t need an apostrophe:
It’s time to go home. (“It is” time to go home.”
Its time to go home.
The dog has a bone in its mouth.
The dog has a bone in it’s mouth. (The dog has a bone in “it is” mouth doesn’t make sense.)
Think about plurals and possessives when you are editing. They are tricky…. even for adults!