My brilliant idea - Present correct

16th January 2009 at 00:00

Any subject - Ages 12-18

Pupils rarely take on board the detailed corrections that their teachers make to their written assignments in full. This method offers a long-term solution to this problem.

While marking a set of essays, make a list of recurring errors such as mistakes in spelling, grammar, paragraphing and style. Also list anything that is irrelevant.

Write a one-page editing guide, numbering each type of error and writing a brief explanation of the problem and how to overcome it. For instance:

1. Your style is too informal. For example, the word man is better than bloke.

2. Not relevant. Be careful to answer the question directly. An essay about the work of authors is about their writing - not their social life.

When next marking assignments, give each pupil a copy of your editing guide. Where a mistake occurs, number the error. Pupils rarely repeat their errors when they correct their own work following your guide.

Rosemary Westwell teaches in Cambridgeshire.

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