Conventions and Proofreading

Author: Jill Torrey Emmons
Editor: Scott R. McDaniel

Time: 1 class period
15 minutes
Materials: A class set of dictionaries and thesauri for student use, copies of “Peer Editing Guide” and "Peer Editing Checklist" (see resource websites below)

During this lesson, the class will have valuable time to review their final project essays and correct any grammatical errors which can detract from the overall quality and smoothness of their writing. Students will proofread their own work in order to catch these miscellaneous spelling and grammatical errors using their knowledge of such conventions as a guide. The instructor will act as facilitator, providing the appropriate resources, such as a dictionary and thesaurus to each student, along with some important proofreading tips. This lesson will lead into the following day, during which students will have the chance to read each other’s work and gain important feedback.

Purpose – The goal of this lesson is to allow students to explore and apply their proofreading skills in order to prepare their final project essays for peer editing and final drafting.

Students will be able to:
1. Refine their final project essays by identifying and correcting spelling and grammatical errors.
2. Evaluate the improvement of their essays before and after proofreading.

National English Education Standard
Standard 6: Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.

Standard 5: Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Teacher Background
Teachers should be well-versed in various proofreading techniques and be aware of common mistakes which students make in their essay writing. For example, the teacher should be able to help students look for grammatical errors (such as subject-verb agreement), capitalization errors, punctuation mistakes, and spelling errors.

Related and Resource Websites
Proofreading Checklist: http://writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb/peeredit.html
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/561/02/ http://www.oakland.k12.mi.us/scope/fourth_lessons/english/unit1/EN040109.doc http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/general/gl_proof.html



1. Students must bring their final project essays with them to class (preferably the rough or second draft).

2. Begin class by asking the students to take five minutes to read their rough drafts silently.

3. Once finished, ask the class to note one or two things they like about their essays, and one or two things they could improve on (this should be written down).

4. Ask the class (by a show of hands) if any students found any grammatical or spelling errors in the reading of their essays. What effect does this have on the overall persuasiveness of the essay? (Students will probably mention that it detracts from the overall quality and smoothness of the paper).

5. Pass out the “Proofreading Checklist” to each student, and instruct the class to read over their rough drafts again, but this time while following the hints on the checklist.

6. Allow 15-20 minutes for a detailed revision.

7. Students should write comments on their rough drafts, marking any needed corrections with a colored pen.

8. Encourage students use thesauri, dictionaries, or grammars in order to resolve their questions. Try to avoid answering students' questions for them.

9. After completing the proofreading, ask the students to read through their rough draft with the corrections in place. On the same piece of paper which they used for the starter question, have each student reevaluate their work. What difference does correct grammar and spelling make? Encourage the class to reflect a bit.


Students should be working on their final project essays. If an additional assignment is needed, the instructor may require the class to bring in their rough drafts the following day with further evidence of proofreading corrections.

Embedded Assessment
During the proofreading, the instructor should float around the room and facilitate the process of identifying errors and making corrections. When the final project essays are evaluated, there should be little evidence of spelling or grammar errors.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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