" Addie Education - Teacher Talk

Peer Editing Tips and Tricks for Middle & Secondary Students

Peer editing can be a powerful tool in an English classroom but it can also be a colossal failure. As a result of too many failures I have changed the way I do it over the last few years and I have seen a huge improvement in my students’ editing and writing skills.

I used to ask students to switch papers with a partner and go through an editing check list with each other and then they’d hand their papers back to each other and get to work correcting their errors.  However, I found that their editing was very, very basic so I needed a way to switch it up.

Now, I have them switch papers with 10-12 people before going to work on their revising and editing.  This is 10-12 more people giving feedback and help… and it means that each student gets to see more examples of other student’s writing.

But… instead of getting students to look at the entire piece of writing, I ask them to focus on one particular aspect at a time.  It’s less overwhelming for my weaker students and it really allows students to see all the different aspects that make up a good piece of writing.

My technique involves a lot of paper passing, so you need to set up a system so that works with your classroom set up.  At each pass of the students’ papers I ask students to look for and do different things.  And what I ask them to look for, will be dependent on the type of writing they’re editing.  With each pass the students must read the entire piece of writing… you may need to allow a few minutes depending on the length of the work.

Here are some suggested prompts with EACH pass of the paper.  
  • Put a check mark at the top of the paper if there’s an engaging title. Put an X if there’s no title. 
  • Circle any words you think may be spelled incorrectly.  (I sometimes do this one twice!)
  • Put a star beside the topic sentence.  If there is no topic sentence make a note at the bottom of their page. 
  • Put a check mark beside the climax of the writing.  Make a note at the bottom if the climax was not obvious or was confusing.
  • Put a small check mark beside three words that you think were particularly helpful in expressing an idea. 
  • Circle any missing punctuation.  Period, quotations, commas….
  • Circle any words that should be capitalized.
  • Put a question mark beside an idea or sentence you were confused about.  Add some details about why it was confusing at the bottom.
  • What’s one thing you’d like to know more about in this writing?  Ask a question at the bottom of their paper.
  • Put a number 1 beside the first sentence that support the topic sentence.   Put a 2 beside the second…
  • Write a sentence at the bottom of the paper giving the writer an idea to improve their work.
  • Underline the concluding sentence.  Cross out anything that says “These are all the reasons why...” or “In conclusion…” 
  • Put a check mark beside the concluding sentence if it links back and relates to the topic sentence.
  • Circle a boring verb and write a suggestion for a new vivid one.
  • Underline the transition words.  Make a note at the bottom if there are none.
  • Write a note at the bottom of their page to let them know if they varied their sentences or if they are all the same.

I am sure you will think of more ideas as you get started and work through this process.  The type of writing will also dictate that types of things you ask your students to look for.  I try to make sure that when I ask students to circle something it’s an error that needs attention… this way when they get their paper back they know what needs to be done.  Check marks mean “well done”, underlining is also identifying positive structures in their work.

My students look forward to doing this—they get to read so many examples, they’re only asked to focus on one thing at a time and when their paper are returned they see so many great suggestions.

I hope you get a chance to try out this strategy with your students as I have truly found success with it in my classroom.  Good luck!

Halloween Tricks and Treats - A FREEBIE for you!

Happy Halloween from Secondary Smorgasbord!! Check out the Tricks and Treats we've put together for you by following the blog hop below!

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Halloween?  Like... really LOVE Halloween!!  The colours, the pumpkins, the chance to dress up and the fabulously fun family night our neighbourhood organizes.  We get together for a big wiener roast and fireworks - I think the fireworks are a uniquely Canadian tradition for Halloween.  It's our biggest firework night of the year! (Our poor dog is a disaster by the end of the night - between the trick-or-treaters and the fireworks it's a stressful night!)

I know it can be a challenge to bring the holidays into a middle or high school classroom, but I've learned over the years that the older kids still like a little holiday fun too.  The key is to combine the fun with some valuable learning.

As an ELA teacher I really think it's important to have my students practice their writing as much as possible.  So I try to combine writing with some holiday fun whenever I can.

Here's a FREE Halloween TREAT for you and your students to enjoy.  Use this Halloween subway art as a writing prompt. 

Challenge students to use a word from each colour in their first sentence. To include 5 words, to include all of the words, to write a poem, to create a haiku, a spooky Halloween headline, a Halloween song...

Click the image to download a FREE copy from my TPT Store! Be sure to check out my other Halloween and Fall themed resources HERE.

Be sure to hop over to the other blogs below for more tricks and treats!

Happy Halloween!

The Literary League Back to School Giveaway

The Literary League, a group of exceptional secondary English Language Arts teachers, is hosting a Back to School Give-Away. Enter to win a choice of gift cards, middle school and high school ELA resource bundles, and shopping sprees to middle and high school ELA TPT stores.

By the time I grab my books and I give myself a look I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by. It's alright’ cause I'm saved by The Literary League! That’s right, we are at it again! It’s one of the biggest back-to-school give-aways courtesy of some of your favorite ELA sellers. 

We’re teachers too, so we know that feeling of going back to school.  Cure those back to school blues by entering this HUGE give-away. Not only multiple prize packs, but also multiple winners!

The give-away will run Monday 8/31 to Monday 9/14. You’ll see some familiar and maybe even some new faces, so follow our stores and our social media accounts, and stay updated with what’s new! Winners will be announced Tuesday 9/15.

The Literary League, a group of exceptional secondary English Language Arts teachers, is hosting a Back to School Give-Away. Enter to win a choice of gift cards, middle school and high school ELA resource bundles, and shopping sprees to middle and high school ELA TPT stores.

Prize # 1: Gift Card of Choice
Win a $50 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers, Amazon, Staples or Target.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #2: Middle School Resources
Win all of the resources listed below for your middle school ELA classroom.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #3: High School Resources
Win all of the resources listed below for your high school ELA classroom.
Close Reading: Guide Your Students Through the Process
Interactive Notebook Bundle
Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasion
Common Core Literature Bell Ringers for Secondary English
Found Poetry Packet
Introduction to Close Reading for Middle and High School - Model and Practice
Critical Thinking: What is Textual Analysis #2
Fiction and Nonfiction Test Passages
Short Story Starters Task Cards 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize # 4: Middle School TpT Store Shopping Spree 
Win a $10 shopping spree to one of the TpT Stores listed below.
2 Peas and a Dog
The Creative Classroom
Literary Sherri
Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
Darlene Anne
Fisher Reyna Education
Brain Waves Instruction
Stacey Lloyd
James Whitaker's Sophist Thoughts
Created by MrHughes
ELA Everyday

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #5: High School TpT Store Shopping Spree  
Win a $10 shopping spree to one of the TpT Stores listed below.
Room 213
The Daring English Teacher
Making Meaning with Melissa
Linda Jennifer
Brynn Allison
Juggling ELA

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Super Secondary Science Giveaway

I wear many hats at my school which makes for busy and interesting weeks!  I teach ELA and Science and I love the variety I have in my day... I can go from a poetry lesson to a lesson on volcanoes to a lesson on climate change in just a few hours!

I've teamed up with some of the amazing secondary science sellers of TpT for a fun Super Secondary Science Giveaway!  Be sure to hop to the other great blogs to enter their contest too!

One of my favourite science topics to teach is Plate Tectonics - and the kids love it too!  I live in Vancouver, Canada and we are well aware of earthquakes and volcanoes.  We practice earthquake drills in class and spend hours talking about earthquake preparedness and earthquake safety.  My students also love volcanoes... they love my stories of seeing lava in Hawaii and love seeing the photos I've taken of volcanoes around the world. Living in the shadow of a volcano (Mt. Baker in Washington state) also makes volcanoes seem all the more real!  

I use many interactive activities to teach about Plate Tectonics! Read my blog post HERE about how I use Play-Dough as a final assessment!  I also use graphic organizers, flip books and fold out books - even with my senior students! They love the hands on nature of the activities! Check out a few of my favourites below.


Enter to WIN a $10 Shopping Spree in my TpT Store!  Click the Rafflecopter Link below to enter!

Be sure to hop on over to the other great Science Blogs!!

An InLinkz Link-up

Happy Back to School! 

Back to School Sale With the Literary Leauge!

Can you believe it's time to start thinking about Back to School!  I truly hope you've had a relaxing and restful summer holiday and you're ready to get back into the classroom recharged and ready for the new year!  Because... they're back... the students are back!!

 Be sure to pop by my TpT Store to save 28% off everything - including my popular bundles!  Be sure to check out my "just posted" bundle of Back to School Posters!


TeachersPayTeachers is having an EPIC BACK TO SCHOOL SALE and those of us in the Secondary ELA group THE LITERARY LEAGUE have teamed up!

Be sure to check out the other members of THE LITERARY LEAGUE participating in the TpT Back to School Sale on Aug. 3-4th!  Use promo code BTS15 to save up to 28%!!

Addie Williams Goes Back to School

I can't believe it's time to start thinking about Back to School!  I'm thrilled to be part of a group of Secondary ELA Teachers in The Literary League and can't wait for you to meet all of us in this Back to School BLOG HOP.

I hope you've had a restful and relaxing summer and were able to recharge your "teacher batteries" for the upcoming school year.  There's something I love about a new school year and I think it's the promise of possibility that lies before us!  A fresh start, a clean slate... I love it.

Here's a little bit more about me!

Speaking of meeting new people... meeting your new students at the start of the year can be daunting!  I hope I'm not the only one who has crazy back to school nightmares where I can't remember anyone's name.  One of my little tricks to help remember my students' names is to ask them to create name tags for their desk.  

I know... you're probably thinking it's really elementary to do something like this.  BUT... I think my kids like making them for a few reasons. First... it's not what they expect.  They are expecting to hear me rattle off the course outline and my expectations for the year.  Secondly, they love the chance to be a little creative.  I give them card stock, provide coloring pencils, magazines, scissors and glue.  I ask them to make their name tags representative of who they are.  Thirdly, it helps them learn each others' names as they don't always know everyone in the class.  It avoids having to awkwardly ask someone their name.  

I store the name tags in envelopes labeled with the block / class.  When a new class begins I can pull out the envelope, leave the name tags out on a desk and have students pick them up on their way in.  They also drop them off with me on their way out so that I can keep them for the next class.  

Grab this FREE Back to School Survey from my TpT shop to get to know your new students even more! 

Also be sure to follow the blog hop below! 
I am so lucky to be part of such an awesome and amazing group of ELA teachers!


Writing Folders in My Secondary Classroom

I decided to try something new in my ELA classes last year and I was so thrilled with how it worked out that I'm going to do it again this year!  After years of trying to organize students with binders that explode with paper and lost paper I knew I had to try something different.  

So... I gave each student in my 9th grade ELA classes a legal (long) sized manila folder for the year.  As part of the "getting to know you" activities I do with students at the start of the year I asked them to design a personal logo and personal motto.  They cut out and glued their logo and motto to the front of their folders - this made their folders easy to spot and gave them some ownership over their folders very early on. The logo activity is available as part of my Back To School Pack for Teens & Tweens.

I stored and kept their folders in my classroom - I didn't let them take them home or shove them in their backpacks.  This served two purposes: 1) The folders didn't get lost / destroyed 2) Students who were working in a support / resource room knew that they could come down to my room, grab their folder, work on things for a period and the resource teachers would ensure the folders were returned.  And... at the end of the year... not. a. single. folder had been lost!! #success

The folders were also fantastic resources at Parent-Teacher Night!  Students were excited to show their parents what they had been working on in class, parents were thrilled to see samples of their child's work and it gave us all an easy starting point for the discussion.

So... what did I put in the folders you ask?? Students kept a variety of reference tools in their folders throughout the year.  As we worked on different units they also kept their daily work in the folders.  At the end of the unit, we took out their notes / assignments and they transfered them to their binders.  By that point, I'd had a chance to easily assess their work and if got lost in their binders, it didn't really matter.   

Here are some things we kept in their folders ALL YEAR.  Some of things we glued in and others just sat in the folders.


The English Student's Guide Book to Writing, Research and Analysis from Room 213 was INVALUABLE and my students refereed to it throughout the year.  The tips, examples and instructions for things like using quotations, in-text citations and paragraphing were so helpful.  Most of my students had a goal to keep this over the summer and try to remember to use it next year in 10th grade. 

I had my students cut out and glue in their folders, a wonderful reference sheet for using Evidence Based Terminology which is FREE from Darlene Anne..  Another INVALUABLE resource - I saw my students refer to this list often when writing and responding to text.  I really noticed an improvement in their writing!

I also included a few other things throughout the year.  My students used and kept their Short Story Terms Dictionary throughout the year to reference literary terms.

They also used my FREE Figurative Language Reference Sheet throughout the year.

I can't wait to get started on them again this year.  I loved how organized the students were, how infrequently something was lost, the ownership my students took over them, and the fact that the kids actually used the resources I had provided them. 

Hope you have a great year!

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