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My class have been working all year on what I like to term ‘writing like a writer’. We have writing sessions were we ‘get dirty’ with our writing, by critiquing each others writing. By that I mean we criticize and suggest improvements for each other. I am firmly of the belief that even the best writer can aim to improve. That words can be crafted and nuanced in new and interesting ways. But the art of giving and receiving constructive feedback is hard. It is particularly hard if you are twelve years old and you have struggled over a paragraph, only to have your teacher or your peers seemingly complain about it.

Likewise I hate to do what I term ‘slash and burn’ on their writing tasks. Not only do I think a written task covered in red ink must be soul destroying but I want my students to learn that they must take responsibility for errors, I want them to edit carefully. To write, to craft, to re-read, to reflect, to change and to improve. Which is why I am so excited today to have picked up this simple tip from twitter last night.

When marking your students work use two coloured highlighter pens. The first one is Pink and when you use that one to highlight words or a passage, what you are saying is ‘I’m tickled pink’ by your ideas, or your grammar etc. The second is Green, when you use that one what you are saying is ‘this writing has room for growth‘, or this is where you need to improve, this section or word should be edited. As soon as I read this tip, I thought why didn’t I think of that! So simple, so clever, I also knew it would work for me.

I only spent a short while on Twitter last night but my visit led me to a new blog and this idea. Proof indeed that it does not matter how long I spend or where I visit, I always learn something new and that it is often the simplest ideas that are the most useful.

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3 comments

  1. What a simple yet effective idea, Henrietta. Students need simple but effective feedback and this provides it. I love the approach to writing you have outlined this year on your blog. Yes, it’s not easy for a 12 year old to accept criticism but I think getting them involved in the process teaches them how to look for improvements and then become more effective critics.

    And yes, we all continue to learn through Twitter and teacher blogs.

  2. Michelle Detar

    Hello Mrs. Miller,
    I am an Elementary Education major at the University of South Alabama and was assigned to read one of your posts. I thought it was funny that the post I was assigned to read was about peer editing and what red marks do to students because I took a Teaching Composition class that focused on that! I had to interview students about writing and all of them hated the red marks all over their papers. They claimed it discouraged them. I think the idea that you found for the highlighters is a wonderful idea! These are young minds that need to be encouraged to learn and write properly and you found a good way to help them do that. Thank you for this post! I will have to remember this when my time as a teacher comes.

  3. Thank you for your kind words Michelle, it is amazing how sometimes it can be the little things that make a difference and matter to students. Good luck with your studies.