Teach kids to identify common spelling errors

Uncertainty about spelling is often a stumbling block to successful writing.

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Writing can overwhelm the most rugged of students, which is why I often mention the importance of breaking the writing process into bite-size pieces.

But did you know it’s equally important to make editing a step-by-step process too? 

When students self-edit a story or report, they often have trouble spotting their own errors. They already think their paper is accurate and well written, which makes it hard to believe anything needs to be fixed.

Instead of trying to find every error in a composition, perhaps the two of you can focus on just a few things at a time. To identify spelling errors, for example, zoom in on common ones most likely to cause trouble. Here are a few tips you can suggest:

Look Up Words You Might Have Misspelled

Use a colored pencil to circle words that you’re just not sure about. This way, they’ll be easier to spot when you look them up.

Refer to a good dictionary or electronic speller to double-check spelling.

While the computer’s spell-check is certainly a useful tool, it’s important to understand why a spell-checker isn’t always accurate.

Spell Using Whole Words

Don’t abbreviate.

  • through, not thru
  • lightnot lite
  • okaynot OK

Don’t use text-speak.

  • you, not u
  • are, not r
  • before, not b4

Identify Common Spelling Errors

Spend a few minutes reading Facebook posts and it’s soon apparent that children aren’t the only ones who have trouble remembering spelling rules! Work regularly on often-confused words and homophones to make sure everyone knows how to use them correctly.

Both you and your students should check for often-misspelled words (or misused homophones) during proofreading and editing sessions. Below are some of the typical culprits.

One word or two?

  • cannot = one word
  • a lot = two words
  • all right = two words

It’s or its?

  • it’s = it is
  • its = shows that something belongs to “it”

Learn more about it’s and its.

You’re or your?

  • you’re = you are
  • your = shows that something belongs to “you”

Learn more about you’re and your.

They’re, there, or their?

  • they’re = they are
  • there = a place or location
  • their = shows that something belongs to “them”

Loose or lose?

  • loose = when something wiggles or moves about
  • lose = fail to win; to misplace or no longer possess something

Then or than?

  • then = shows time
  • than = makes a comparison

Uncertainty about spelling is often a stumbling block to successful writing. By working together on small tasks that improve spelling, the larger task of writing may one day become less daunting. Why not start this week with some of these suggestions?

2 Comments

  • Posted January 16, 2013

    Kerry

    Great list. Your text-speak made me chuckle

    See you in a couple of weeks at Beech

  • Posted January 18, 2013

    Kim

    Thanks, Kerry! And looking forward to an IRL meeting!

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