Students often get overwhelmed when attempting to edit their own or (a classmate’s) writing for grammar errors. Breaking down the process into three steps can help them learn to be more confident and more effective editors at any level.
1. Explain the concept.
Write on the board the following three statements:
I know this is correct.
I’m not sure if this is correct.
I know this isn’t correct.
In their first language, students know when they’ve made a mistake and usually self-correct.
Explain to students that, in their first language, they know when they’ve made a mistake and usually self-correct. Tell students that they can learn to develop that “sense” in a second language, as well. Give examples by putting three level-appropriate words on the board that are difficult to spell, with one spelled correctly and the other two spelled incorrectly. Ask students to identify which of the three statements on the board express their feelings about the spelling of each word.
2. Practice the Process.
Provide students with a short student-written paragraph that has level-appropriate errors in it. Ask students to identify the statements that they are sure are correct, that they are not sure about, and they know are incorrect by underlining, highlighting, and circling. Then, have them compare.
3. Narrow the Focus.
Explain to the students that they should only focus on fixing the problems in their writing that they are sure about. It is worth explaining to students that focusing on too many problems at one time is both de-motivating and ineffective.