Four Major Essay Mistakes your Child is Making and how to Stop Them!
Let's chat proofreading.
I am not sure how people functioned before spellcheck. I remember my parents telling me to read my work, then re-read my work, but who has time for that? Plus, I found the topic I was writing on boring the first time. Did I really want to read it multiple times?
Spellcheck came and solved half of my problems, or so I thought. I no longer had to fret about misspelling words like Wednesday (can we stick with Wed.) and potato (thanks Dan Quayle for giving me a complex about the spelling of this word). However, spellcheck DOES NOT solve our problems.
So let's look at how to work through our proof-reading errors. We'll try to make it as painless as possible mmmm kay?
*There are affliate links in this post. That means if you sign up, I receive a small token of appreciation. However, I don’t suggest what I don’t use and Grammarly is a MUST have for anyone that uses the written language!
The Four Major Proof-reading Mistakes
Mistake 1 - We listen to our parents and re-read our work.
Reading your essay multiple times might not catch your errors. That's right kiddos, your parents are WRONG! Reading to yourself will not catch your errors. Why? Because I know you. You will start to read, and then you will start to skim, and then it will be a blur and only one page of ten will be read. It bores our brains to read the same words over and over. I don't care if your essay on Napoleon reads like a Stephen King novel. IT WILL GET BORING.
So, read it aloud. Sit your stuffed bunny named Poodle in front of you and read the essay aloud to him. If you get bored, sing it opera style. Yes, you will sound like a nut. BUT you will catch your errors.
Mistake 2- We Rely on Spellcheck
First, you can't rely on spellcheck alone. Spell check cannot pick out missing words or words that are correctly spelled but misused. I red a book, will not trigger a spellcheck error ( Grammarly actually DID pick out this error- reason 201444 why I love Grammarly). You need to use a second technique, like reading aloud. You can also double check your spelling with programs like Grammarly or Hemingway (see next week's blog). These are not foolproof but used together, you get a double whammy of spelling correction protection.
Mistake 3- We don’t use Peer Review
Dude, you need to let someone else read your work. Peer review sessions in class can seem like a pain, but it helps break up your assignment and stomp procrastination. Even when you put your essay off to the last second, you need to pick up what is left of your pride and have someone look at your essay. If you don't want your parents to yell at you, pick a friend you can bribe with a Starbucks. Let me insert a shameless plug. One of the benefits of working with an academic coach is that I offer revisions in my packages. You can learn more about my services here (I work with students in grades 6th and higher, from Florida to Timbuktu). I don't even need a bribe! However, I am also a mere mortal, so having another backup is essential.
Mistake 4 - We refuse to get Dirty
Print out your paper and mark it up! Reading from the screen and changing as you go will cause some naughty word errors to slip by your eyes. Print out your paper, grab an angry red pen (or pink, purple or glitter) and make notes.
Scratching up your paper will allow you to see if your paper flows and where more evidence is needed. I get it. We are in the digital age. If you can't print it, make the comments in the margin or use the highlighter tool. Printing your paper out is the best option, but if you are unable to do so- make your digital copy messy.
The Bottom Line
Proof-reading can be torturous and dull. I get it. However, as much as it pains me to say this, it does help. If you are going to turn in a paper you may as well do your proofreading correctly.
I was the queen of whining that proofreading didn't work. Guess why it didn't work. I scanned the paper and relied on spellchecker. Deep down I knew that wasn't the best way, but I felt I was justified to complain if I put in half the effort (ok, 1/3 the effort).
The truth is, if I had picked two of these methods, my papers would have come out stronger and with fewer errors. The best news is that there are a ton of FREE resources online. The one I use most often is Grammarly which you can use for free. Grammarly also rocks because you can add easy extensions to your Google Chrome or browser.
What two will you choose?
PS- Any typos in this blog post (or past or future posts), may or may not have, purposefully or accidentally, included errors.