Most common mistake when teaching writing

What’s the difference between revising and editing a piece of writing?  Many people, including tutors and professionals, confuse the two.

Revising is the process of expanding and clarifying what is written and should be done before the piece is edited.  The writer may revise a piece several times.  The tutor uses questions to get the learner to do the work.  Strategies could include the following:

  • Ask what the piece is about, who the audience is and how this should affect the audience.
  • Have the learner read the piece to you and then discuss the content.  Ask if the topic is clear and can any details be added, changed or taken out to make the ideas clearer.
  • Are the ideas put in a logical order?
  • The tutor reads the piece aloud as the learner listens critically.  You might ask, “Does this say what you want it to say?” “What do you like best about it?”  “Can you do anything to improve it?”

When you make suggestions, use the form of questions, such as

  • What would happen if …..?
  • How would it sound if…..
  • When this happened, what else did you notice?

Editing involves correcting the grammar, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization, etc.  In other words, editing works on the mechanics.  We don’t want to overwhelm the learner—just work on one or two errors or one general principle at a time.  It is very important to encourage the writer that the message is more important than spelling, grammar or penmanship.  Show the learner that you value and understand what (s)he has written by responding to the message before correcting minor errors. This may give the learner the courage to actually use writing.

Regardless of whether the writing is a personal letter, essay or term paper, the process is the same.

-A lesson in writing compliments of Olive Burkard,
Certified ProLiteracy Trainer, Lake County Library System

Erika Greene and FLC’s Online Tutor Training Course

Erika Greene

Erika Greene

How did you get involved with this project?

I was very pleased to be invited by Greg Smith, Director, FLC, to join an Online Study Committee established to explore the viability of developing and offering on-line training for potential tutors and teachers.  The team worked together and launched the pilot online training in July 2010.  As the Literacy Coordinator for the Lake County Library System Adult Literacy Program I am constantly recruiting and training volunteer tutors and I was immediately sold on the opportunity to incorporate an online tutor training component into our program.

Why were you interested in facilitating the course?

Being part of the study committee, a program coordinator, and volunteer tutor trainer it was a natural transition to facilitate the pilot course!  I was extremely excited to be able to participate in the online training – not only would I be able to see how it worked but I would be able to provide feedback, input, and guide the new volunteer tutors from Lake County as they traversed this new territory!

What was your interaction with course participants?

I was involved with the new volunteer tutors from the very beginning – recruiting, preparing and educating them on the online training program, providing support and guidance as they worked through the course content, participating in the discussion board topics, and transitioning them to our required face-to-face follow up meeting.

What would you suggest for other facilitators?

It is so very important to be engaged with the volunteer tutors throughout the process.  For some individuals the ‘technology’ can be overwhelming and, at times, discouraging for them.  If you are planning on facilitating your own online training be prepared to be busy!  But the rewards far outweigh the work.  You learn so much about your new potential volunteer tutors and they develop a strong relationship with you as they learn they can trust and depend on you to offer them assistance and support throughout the process.

How do you recruit course participants?

Recruiting volunteer tutors for the online training is similar to the traditional way I recruited tutors.  The only difference is that I stress the need for new volunteers to be comfortable with technology – or at least willing to try and learn!  As the LCLS Adult Literacy Program moves further into the 21st Century we, as a program, need tutors who use and/or are willing to be trained to use technology – hardware, software, the cloud, mobile aps, web-based learning, etc...  The FLC online training is the first step in this process.

For more information on how you can be involved with FLC’s free online training course, please contact schmidta@floridaliteracy.org.