The Victorian Curriculum for Writing Requires Some Revision

In the new Victorian Curriculum, under the heading ‘writing,’ I came upon this statement regarding editing.

 ‘Editing: Reread and edit for meaning by adding, deleting or moving words or word groups to improve content and structure.’

This sounds very much like revision. Surprisingly though, I could find no reference to revision in the documentation. I found this concerning. So, are the authors confused?

Editing versus Revision
Both editing and revising are designed to make the writing piece ‘reader friendly.’ They provide opportunities to raise the writer’s awareness of audience.

What is the difference between editing and revision? Enter a classroom and you will frequently hear these terms used interchangeably by teachers and often to the detriment of students and their writing efforts. If teachers are unsure about these processes, students are disadvantaged. Such confusion hinders the growth of writing development.

Is this Editing or Revision?
When teachers are confused about these processes it impedes the level of revision that takes place. It frequently leads to students just ‘fixing up’ the surface features of the writing (spelling, grammar, punctuation). They are not revising the piece. They are editing. 

Revision requires the writer to re-vision the writing. This means revisiting the content and working to improve the way it is written. The writing is re-crafted, not merely fixed up. Young writers need to be shown how to do this critical work. 

It is therefore important to be aware of some important distinctions between these important processes.  The act of revision aims to improve the overall content of the writing. The writer examines the strengths and weaknesses of the writing. The purpose of revision is to ask questions of the writer and expand ideas. This assists the writer to meet the needs of the reader. This may require the writer to move or remove entire paragraphs, extend or narrow ideas, to rewrite vague or confusing text. It may require adding to existing sections of the writing.

 Revision can involve both minor and major surgery in order to improve the overall content of the writing. In the act of revision the writer hopefully gains a deeper awareness of strengths and weaknesses of the piece. In the end it’s all about improving the content of the writing.

The more time a writer devotes to revision, the less time is required for editing.

The editing process may involve correcting, condensing, organizing, and otherwise modifying the surface features of the writing, in order to produce a piece of writing displaying correctness, consistency, and accuracy.

We sometimes lament that student writers are not great editors of their written pieces. Let's face it, writers generally are the worst proof-readers of their own work. To compensate for this we need to approach editing in the same way as we approach any other aspect of writing. Editing needs to be taught just as we teach into drafting and revising. It also needs to be clearly separated from the act of revision so students fully understand the purpose. Developing editing check lists with students and incorporating peer editing and feedback strategies will support this endeavour.

  • Editing should involve proofreading on three levels- meaning, spelling, grammar & punctuation
  • Editing can also involve a sentence level focus- addressing problems with spelling, grammar, punctuation, or word choice.
  • Editing looks at fixing the writing where needed.
I would argue that a focus on both revision and editing is necessary, if as teachers of writing, we want our important work to truly impact the quality of student writing. The teaching of writing requires explicit and mindful teaching. Teaching that is continually informed by the learning needs of students. In this context the Victorian Curriculum statements concerning the editing phase of writing would appear to need some revising…


Popular With Other Visitors

The Wonder of Wordplay

Launching Your Writing Program With Bold Intent in 2018

Learning How to 'Zoom In' When Writing

Helping Student Writers Find That Vital Spark of Inspiration

The Quest For Independence Among Student Writers