Lesson plan: KS4 English – self-improvement through self-editing

  • Lesson plan: KS4 English – self-improvement through self-editing

​​Encourage your learners to edit and improve their own work by empowering them to assess others’ writing, says Jennie Saliba…

​​Encourage your learners to edit and improve their own work by empowering them to assess others’ writing, says Jennie Saliba…

The definition of impatient according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary is ‘having or showing a tendency to be quickly irritated or provoked’. The definition of being impatient in my opinion is embodied in most teenagers I encounter every day. As soon as the last full stop goes down on the paper their hand is whipped into the air with a smug smile on their face, ‘Finished!’ The mere suggestion of self-editing or assessing verges on blasphemous for a large proportion of teenagers today. The lesson below is an example of how we can encourage and fuse self-editing with intensive assessment for learning. It is a special lesson as it combines active learning, independent study, self and peer assessment and great use of AFL. All of these lesson elements are universal to the entire curriculum and can be easily implemented in any classroom and in any subject. As well as it being transferable to an entire teaching team it is also a brilliant lesson for both teachers and learners. This is because a teacher can show progress at periodic moments in the lesson and the learner can clearly see where and how this progress is being made. In addition to this, the amount of teacher lead minutes is minimal and students have an element of choice and take 100% ownership over their own work.

Today you will…

  • A*/A – Start to display a sophisticated analysis of writer’s opinions.
  • B – Start to display insightful interpretations of writer’s opinions.
  • C - Start to display a clear and sustained understanding of writer’s opinions.

Starter activity

Leading up to this lesson, students will have been introduced to two articles (1. tinyurl.com/tsvideogames1 and 2. tinyurl.com/tsvideogames2), each presenting conflicting views regarding the influence of violent video games on teenagers’ behaviour. Article 2 will have been the most recent text the students have engaged with. They have also been exposed to the grading criteria for this particular unit.

The opinions of the second article are condensed to a 6-box table. Each box has a bullet pointed summary of the writer’s opinion in. Students are shown the table on a PowerPoint slide and they must spend 20 seconds observing the slide in silence whilst writing absolutely nothing. When the 20 seconds are over, the teacher changes the slide and the students independently recall the information they were exposed to on the previous slide. They copy this onto their own blank copy of the table. This is repeated 6 times (on average).

This task is simply differentiated for SEN and lower ability by having the opinions already written on the table, however, with words missing from the sentences – thus reducing the amount of information the students need to recall.

Main activities

1 What is the opinion of the writer/writers on violence in video games making young people aggressive? This question is projected onto the whiteboard with differentiated outcomes underneath:

A*/A – Compare opinions in article 1 and article 2.

B/C – Respond to the opinions in article 2.

Students are then given a short amount of time to skim and scan back through the two articles and choose the points that they would like to discuss in their response. This part of the task is short ` and concise and puts the responsibility and choice into the power of the student.

2. This next part of the lesson revolves around the students being exposed to the success criteria that they need to write a successful response to the question in activity 1. The success criteria can be collated as a class or predetermined by the teacher.

3. The students are now armed with the points they wish to discuss, the success criteria and writing frames where necessary. For the next ten minutes, ` students respond to the question entirely independently.

4. This is where the independence and explicit use of AFL comes into play. Students are stopped after ten minutes and they use their success criteria to annotate the positives of their work thus far. Following on from this, the students must set themselves a target in order to improve their response further.

5. At this point the students should now return to their original response and implement the target they have set themselves. They are encouraged to write for a further ten minutes using their notes and success criteria as a guide. Activity 4 can then be repeated for a final time.

Home learning

There are variety of tasks that can be set to extend learning linked to this lesson. Examples of these are:

  • Continuing to compare/respond to the opinions in essay style.
  • Write a letter to the authors of the texts expressing their opinion on the subject.
  • Producing Venn diagrams to show the similarities and differences in opinions between two texts.
  • Summarising opinions in 50 words or fewer.


Up until this point, students have actively recalled writers’ opinions and self-assessed their writing twice. Now is the opportunity for students to share their work with a partner and carry out a peer assessment task. Using the grading criteria from the previous lesson, each student now moves away from general comments and grades the piece according to the marking requirements. The students must justify their grading using the criteria and document this in their partners’ book. Once students have received their partners’ feedback, they then proceed to stand under the relevant grade (grades displayed around the room) their partner has awarded them. They must then talk to the person next to them about why they think they received this particular grade (always using the marking and success criteria vocabulary). They must then bullet point each other’s reasoning and be prepared to share with the class.

About the author

Jennie Saliba is head of English at Ormiston Venture Academy. The main thing she loves about teaching is the fact that she gest to see students progress every day and be a part of their learning journey.