editing · jim vopat · spelling

Instead of fixing my kids’ spelling errors…

Minimal Marking

Originally uploaded by teachergal

I’m trying a Vopat Editing Technique called “Minimal Markings.” It’s basically where you put check marks in the margin of a student’s paper, which signals them that there’s a misspelled word on a line. Then, it’s up to the student to use resources (e.g., word wall, high frequency word list, dictionary) to fix the mistake.

Tonight, when I took my kids’ drafts home, I decided to try this instead of circling each word and writing sp. on top of the circle. That literally points out the actual word on the line that’s misspelled. This technique makes kids search through their writing to literally find the word(s) on a line that are misspelled.

I think this might be a way to help kids self-manage the editing process… will let you know if it does.

7 thoughts on “Instead of fixing my kids’ spelling errors…

  1. I ask my kids to reread their poem or memoir starting from the end, reading from the left to the right. I also ask my kids to change their “glasses” then read only for spelling and circling any word that they are not 100% is spelled correctly. I ask that they work with a colored pencil.


  2. I have been doing this for a few years and it is great! I find that the kids actually already know which word is misspelled. It is pretty rare that I am telling them something new. As soon as they see the check, they point out the word. They know they guessed! One of the most positive thing that happens for me is that they realize they are kind of wasting their time with the plain old guesses. They start to look it up to begin with, as a friend, or ask me because they want to show that they actually know it is wrong.


  3. I do this in the margin but for my third graders I’ll put a C for capital P for punctuation and a SP for spelling. It helps wean them away from the old method of explicitly showing them the error.


  4. Kelly:

    Thanks for your kind comment!!! 🙂 That was very sweet of you.

    As for the rubric, you can find it in Aimee Buckner’s Book, Notebook Know-How, which is published by Stenhouse.



  5. I love this idea! I look forward to sharing it with my fellow teachers. Would you please consider posting the rubric you mentioned in Monday’s post about paragraphing? Thanks! This site is my daily motivation. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by running an effective writer’s workshop there is always useful information that fills my tank for the next day. I reference Stacey and Ruth so often when talking with other teachers they have started asking me, ‘Who are these ladies? Should I know them? I say YES and gladly share where they can find you.


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