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5 Tips for Teaching Students How To Revise and Edit Writing

Writing is hard. Plain and simple, it is difficult (even as I sit and write this, I have these feelings!) And revising and editing are always the part of the writing process kids want to skip over (sometimes I want to too! lol!) We don't want to admit our writing may need improvements, we have spent a long time writing and don't want to go back to reread it again, we think of writing as one and done!

But editing and revising is such an important part of the writing process…and (wait for it)………it can be fun!!

We can teach young writers to revisit, to change, and to work to make their writing better. 

You will no longer hear, “How many sentences does this need to be?” When your students are engaged in their writing and working to improve the content without focusing on the length.

tips for revising and editing

What is revising?

Revising is one of the most important parts of the writing process because it gives writers a chance to look closer at their writing and decide how to make it better by making changes.

  • making changes in writing to make the writing sound better
  • adding in or taking out parts so the writing flows
  • moving parts of the writing or changing the order
  • removing repeated words or phrases
  • adding details, creating stronger transitions, using more descriptive words

Revising is an ongoing process and one that students should learn to do each day. Starting each day by rereading their writing and revising it will help them build better writing habits.

Revising writing process

What is editing?

Editing is the chance to correct any mistakes in writing.  The first draft is the chance for students to get their ideas and words on the paper, and editing is the time to build their confidence as authors!

  • making changes in writing to make the writing look better
  • fix words that are misspelled, correct punctuation, check for proper capitalization
  • insert missing words, letters, or punctuation
  • remove unnecessary punctuation
  • adding details, creating stronger transitions, using more descriptive words

Editing should not be a discouraging part of the writing process for young writers but should be a stage in the writing process that encourages them to learn the best practices that authors use.

We should not “mark up” student writing or take their papers to change spelling mistakes and insert punctuation when needed. We must teach them how to edit so that they can be master editors on their own, taking pride in the corrections of their work rather than feeling like a failure with red markings on their precious work of writing. 

Editing writing process

Revising vs. Editing

As revising can be treated as an ongoing process, editing can be done in a short time. Students can learn to edit as they see mistakes in their writing, but should not spend large amounts of time on the editing process.

Writing mechanics are only a small piece of the writing puzzle and while a misspelled word may mean a mark off on a rubric, it does not affect the reader's understanding of the writing as a whole; where a missing phrase, repeated words, or broken transitions may alter the reader's understanding.

Editing is the finishing touches on a writing project and brings pride to students' work as they feel a sense of completion. Revising should be an ongoing effort that brings students to the editing process with their best piece of writing.

Having consistent time for writing allows students to continue their revising and editing practice and grow as authors.

Editing and revising tools and tips

5 Tips for revising and editing

  1. Revising and editing DO NOT mean rewriting the entire piece of writing. Students do not want to recopy their work and will be resentful of the process if they are writing over and over. Allow them to mark up their page, use sticky notes, and other tools that will allow them space to revise and edit right on their page.
  2. Use writing conference time to help students revise and edit, but do not think you have to revise and edit the entire piece of writing together. It does not have to be perfect when students leave the conference. Give them an action item they will work on before your next conference.
  3. Have students skip lines when they are drafting so there is room for revising and editing.
  4. Use “spider legs” and allow students to staple revisions on the sides of their papers. They will love adding revisions to their work when they have fun spider legs to display!
  5. Use colored pens or pencils…this is not only fun but helps the revisions and edits stand out. Have supplies available for students to use. Using fun pens, editing fingers, wands, or glasses will add to the appeal of the process and can make a task that usually seems tedious more fun!
spider legs for writing

Tools for revising and editing

You can click below to see some of my favorite revising and editing tools.

Tools and tips for revising and editing
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launching writing workshop

Happy Writing!! (and revising and editing too!)



  1. September 23, 2021 / 4:01 pm

    As a fellow 4th grade teacher, I love these tips! Especially the one about “Spider legs.” I haven’t tried that, but it’s on my radar now. I also agree with asking students to skip lines during the draft writing. This has worked wonders in the past for my kiddos when revising and editing. Thanks for these ideas!!

    • Jen
      September 27, 2021 / 8:52 pm

      Thanks so much, Tanya!

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