Proofreading exercises for students

Updated July 19, 2017

Proofreading is oftentimes one of the most overlooked aspects of the writing process. Learning the best ways to proofread will help the clarity of writing as well as the quality. There are many ways to go about the process of proofreading, but the most effective techniques are simple and can be done in the classroom and at home.

Strength in Numbers

One of the most effective ways of proofreading, especially in the classroom, is to have different students read over their papers and provide corrections. Break the students up into groups and have them exchange papers and let them find the errors. Oftentimes it is hard for the writer of the paper to catch his own errors, and it will benefit their writing by having another pair of eyes catching their simple mistakes that commonly bog down essays or assignments.

If you do not want to put your students in groups, then randomly hand out the papers to your students and have them proofread the paper they are given. Make sure there is a time limit, because the most important part of peer-to-peer proofreading is to make sure the paper does not stay with the same student. The more eyes that proofread a paper, the better the odds of finding any typos or grammatical errors. Students also get a chance to show their proofreading abilities by spending the time editing; this helps them develop good grammatical habits and confidence.

Partner Proofreading

One simple way to proofread is to have a writing partner, either in or outside of the classroom. A writing partner will help proofreading because it will give a writer consistent input on his writing and will provide another pair of eyes. It will also help the writer learn and practice their own proofreading skills, and that will benefit their own writing. If you want to maximise partner proofreading, a good idea is to switch partners after a few assignments; occasionally students get used to their partners' style, and that could affect their proofreading abilities, especially in younger writers. This exercise will help writers be more cognitive about their own writing by seeing what their peers do wrong and helping them find solutions to their mistakes.

Solo Proofreading

One of the most effective and simple ways to proofread is to read your work aloud. Doing this will help catch common, simple grammatical errors. It is also more effective than silently reading, because when people silently read, they tend to read what they think they wrote instead of what is actually written. This practice is common among professional proofreaders and is surprisingly effective.

Projector Proofreading

A great teaching technique for proofreading and helping improve writing skills in the classroom is to use a projector while correcting student mistakes. You could either use a projector and a projector sheet or a computer with a projection attachment.

Review the sentences one by one with the class and have the students correct their own errors; then rewrite the sentence correctly on the board for the class. It is important to do this anonymously, because you do not want to upset the students or make them feel embarrassed. However, not only does it benefit the student, it benefits the entire class because it involves them all and shows them how to correct their own mistakes.

Setting Examples

Sometimes the best ways for kids to improve their writing is to see examples of quality writing; hand out examples of what you consider to be good writing, either by students themselves or your own favourite authors. Review the picked writing sample and discuss why it is good; provide the reasons why the writing sample is good, and show students how they can do the same thing with their writing. It can show them what utilising their proofreading techniques can do.

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About the Author

Kevin Irons graduated in May 2008 from Saint Leo University with a bachelor's degree in creative writing. He's been writing professionally since 2008 and is pursuing his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. He has expertise in surfing, playing music and sports.