Editing Mini Lessons: Teaching Students to Edit Their Writing in Writer's Workshop

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This student writing/editing lesson plan can be taught in the first few weeks of writer’s workshop. Since it focuses more on having students go back through their writing to check for certain things, they don’t need to be writing a lot yet. It’s a writer’s workshop mini-lesson that can be reviewed and retaught throughout the year as editing expectations change.

Getting Started


  • Chart Paper and Markers
  • Student Writing
  • Colored Pencils

Prior Knowledge

Students should be familiar with the drafting process of writer’s workshop. They need to be able to write for a short period of time, preferably on a daily basis. They should have a word wall available to find and spell words. If you are teaching this elementary writing lesson at the beginning of the year, your word wall probably only has a few words on it and that’s okay.


At the beginning of your writing time, tell the students that they are going to be learning how to edit their own writing. Tell them editing is when you go back over your writing and look for mistakes and fix them.


Begin your student editing mini-lesson by modeling a story or journal entry. If you haven’t been modeling daily for your students, model for a few days before doing this lesson. Early in the year the writing usually involves drawing a line across the middle of the paper and drawing a quick picture on top and then writing the story underneath. The students’ writing may only be one or two sentences long.

After you model, tell the class that now you are going to edit your story. Pick three or four easy things that you want them to look for when they edit. If I am doing this lesson for the first time at the beginning of the year, I usually choose the date, a quick sketch about their writing, spaces between words and word wall words.

I tell them that the first thing I will be doing is to check that I have written the date at the top of my paper. I find the date and next to it in a different color marker I write a ‘1’ and circle it. This is the first item on the editing checklist. I then find my picture and write a ‘2’ and circle it. For the spaces between words I show the students how to check by putting a finger between the words and then I draw a small arrow pointing to a space and label it ‘3.’ I then circle or underline my word wall words checking the word wall to make sure each one is spelled correctly. If it needs fixing, I show the students how to carefully write the correct spelling above the word. I then label one of the word wall words with a ‘4.’

I tell the class that after finishing their writing I expect them to do these steps to edit their stories. Then instead of writing out the steps into a checklist, I hang up my edited and numbered story for the students to use as a reference. I have found that this is much easier for students to use than a checklist, especially early in the year when many are not reading yet.

Continue to model editing using your original edited story as a guide until the students are comfortable. Some days you may intentionally forget the date or misspell a word wall word. Each day before you send them to their seats to write, ask them what they should do when they finish writing that day. Establishing these clear expectations early on will help your students become better editors later in the year when they begin checking for punctuation and capitalization.

Assess and Extend


Periodically look over your students writing to see if they are editing it each day. As writer’s workshop progresses and you begin the publishing process, you will notice how much editing the students are doing when you edit their stories.


As the year progresses, you can add things to the student editing process and eventually switch to a checklist.

This writer’s workshop mini lesson plan promotes self-editing of students’ writing and will help build their confidence in their writing endeavors in the future.