These proofreading tips just aren’t working for several of my students this year.
Is it because they’re lazy? Sloppy? Have low standards? Or is it because they can’t spot their errors — or that they don’t know grammar?
It’s probably all of the above. But in order for me to help them improve their writing, I need to figure out exactly what’s going on.
Here are some of my thoughts:
- Ask students about their proofreading process. How do they proofread? For how long? How do they know they’re finished?
- Observe students proofreading their essays. Suggest different methods and see which ones yield better results.
- Assign a standard proofreading process. Tell them exactly what to do and see if the uniformity works.
That’s just a beginning list. I’m inclined to do all three. In fact, I began today with one student. I asked her about her feelings toward grammar and proofreading. (“I hate grammar!” she said.) She then proofread her essay in three different ways, and we talked about which method worked best for her and why. (The method she liked the best — reading a printed copy out loud — also found the most mistakes.)
I like #3, too. My students benefit from specific directions. One idea is to make all my students do the same exact proofreading process. Another (better) idea is for the students to proofread based on their grammar patterns. I know that other teachers do this, but I haven’t figured out a good way to pull this off. Please let me know if you have ideas!