Turning an Idea into a Published Piece


At the start of the school year I was keen to let students publish everything they had written, hoping to foster an enjoyment of writing, especially in those who were normally hesitant to write. I would sometimes leave a couple of private comments with editing suggestions on a post prior to publishing their work for an audience. However, I would largely publish their loosely-edited work. This was proving to be effective in my classroom, as I noticed students were finding their voice and quickly finding enjoyment in writing. They were inspired to share their writing with each other in a grade-free environment.

Now, halfway through the year, I have found myself in a dilemma. I’ve been struggling with the extent to which student work needs to be edited and ‘polished’ prior to publishing. I often receive a piece of work painted with subtle errors, but I fear crushing the enjoyment of using Kidblog by pointing out these mistakes and making them edit every word prior to publishing. On the other hand, it is not only my hope, but also my job, to help students present their best work and continue to develop confidently as writers. Not to mention, with 28 students in my class, there is simply no way that I could read, edit, and conference with every author on every blog post.

With this dilemma in mind, I set out to find an effective way of ensuring polished posts without crushing the students’ blogging spirit: peer editing. Both the author and the editor have the opportunity to benefit from the peer editing process. The author receives supportive and constructive criticism from a source other than the teacher. For many students this makes the editing experience far less intimidating and even less of a chore. The other role, the editor, benefits by being given the ability to use critical thinking and communication skills to help another student.

With peer editing, students don’t feel like they are being given a traditional assignment, but more of an enjoyable enterprise. Plus, anything that saves the teacher time is always positive :).

My next step is to coach the class on best practices in peer editing, and to give them time to practice giving constructive criticism. To help with this I have used a peer-editor checklist developed by a colleague of mine which keeps editors focused when editing.

I believe that peer editing of blog posts, coupled with the evolution of their writing through in-class writing projects and assignments will have the desired effect of making my students’ writing not only entertaining, but also with limited error.

About the Author
Originally from England, Matthew Carrington is a fourth grade teacher at Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary in Charleston, SC. His school has been recognized across the nation as a leader in Arts Education, and he is passionate about teaching through the arts. He has a MAT in Elementary Education from the College of Charleston and at the end of his third year of teaching was chosen by the Ashley River faculty as their 2015-16 Teacher of the Year. As assistant coach of the school robotics team, he has helped plan and carry out a successful school-wide STEAM Fest (www.schoolsteamfest.com), and he also implements in-school technology trainings for parents and faculty. He was recently chosen by Charleston County to be part of the Digital Learning Cohort, a pilot program to deploy iPads in select classrooms, and is passionate about connecting with classrooms around the world using technologies such as Skype and Twitter (@TeachingSC).


  1. Małgorzata

    Mathew, I truly enjoyed reading your post. I liked your idea of peer editing, I’m sure it will be effective 🙂 How old are your students?

    • Matthew Carrington

      Thank you for your kind comment! My students are in fourth grade so 9/10 years old.

      • Ed

        Absolutely love this post Matthew. I’m on the eve of implementing my small, pilot project for blogging, with the same age group and this has given me some real insight. Keep up the great work!

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