editing part of the nonfiction writing process usually gets short
shrift from students. They seem to think that once they've composed
their documents, they are finished.
Students usually have to learn through trial and error the importance
of editing. However, you may be able to encourage them by example.
If you cannot get examples of editing by Lady Gaga and Tiger
Woods, you might have to settle for a couple of famous U. S. presidents.
Editing by Barack Obama
White House posted to Flickr an Official White House Photo by
Pete Souza of President Barack Obama editing a speech Sept. 9,
2009 in the Oval Office, in preparation for his address to a joint
session of Congress. The photo shows an extensively annotated
and edited document.
If you want to use the photo with your students, the link in
the photo credit at the right will take you to the Flickr page
where you can get the photo in a larger size.
Editing by Thomas Jefferson
A famous earlier piece of American writing, the Declaration
of Independence, was prepared by a team of writers that included
two men who were to become presidents of the new nation, Thomas
Jefferson, became the third president of the United States,and
John Adams, who was the second president
The Library of Congress documents collection holds copies
of the Declaration, which show extensive editing by Thomas
If your students are taking American history, they might want
to watch the 2008 TV miniseries John Adams. The second
episode of the series shows the writing team discussing what the
Declaration should say.
Adams and Franklin and tell Jefferson what to write and leave
him to get on with it. Later Adams and Franklin come back to criticize
You can draw a lesson there for students who must learn to write
collaboratively. Perhaps the reason people prefer to skip editing
is that someone always complains about the way the author did