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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.
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
- through, not thru
- light, not lite
- okay, not 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”
You’re or your?
- you’re = you are
- your = shows that something belongs to “you”
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?
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