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Lesson Plan #: AELP-LPS0202
Submitted by: Heather Connelly and Scott Hendershot
Email: hcc5_2000@yahoo.com, seh8_2000@yahoo.com
School/University/Affiliation: Maple Hill Elementary School, Middletown, NY

March 14, 2001

Grade Level: 3, 4, 5


  • Language Arts/Process Skills

Duration: 45 minutes

Description: This lesson brings students’ attention to the importance of proofreading and editing written work.

Goal: Students will recognize various proofreading and editing symbols.

Objective: Given a paragraph, students will be able to use proofreading and editing symbols to identify errors.


  • overhead projector with markers
  • overhead of general proofreading symbols (see Internet site below)
  • overhead of 2 short paragraphs containing errors (paragraphs taken from classroom textbook)
  • student work examples (without names) — enough for each student
  • handwritten list of proofreading symbols on chart paper
  • red pens
  • copy of proofreading symbols for students

Create a student generated list of What is Proofreading? Create a student generated web of what you look for when you proofread (initial students’ responses). Answers may include capitalization, punctuation, spelling, etc. Discuss the importance of proofreading (to fix errors to create an error-free final draft). Using the overhead, discuss symbols (indenting, add period, add word, spelling, add capital letter, small letter, take out, etc.). Provide an example of each symbol on the overhead, and verbally explain the corrections.

Display the proofreading symbols on chart paper. Hang the chart on the wall or board for students to view. Using the first overhead example, go through the paragraph line by line, asking for volunteers to name the error and its correction (mark the symbols and corrections on the overhead). Repeat this procedure until students are comfortable with recognizing errors and making corrections. [ Author’s Note: Teachers may want to use paragraphs taken from a student’s textbook/reading series, re-writing the paragraphs with errors. As an extension, see the Internet sites listed below for additional paragraphs that can be used.]

Explain that the students will now take on the role of a teacher. They will proofread a work sample just as their teacher does daily. In groups of two, students will be given a copy of a student’s paper (this can be a photocopy of a daily journal activity…make sure that the student’s name has been removed). Using red pens and a photocopy of the symbols, the partners will work collaboratively and go through the work sample making corrections where necessary. (You may want to give each group more than one copy but no more than two).

[For students with special needs you may want to group them and work with them separately. Depending upon modifications, you may want to take a student’s work sample and write it on sentence strips. Use a different color for each sentence written. Lay out the entire work sample (on sentence strips) on the floor. Read it aloud to the group. Then take the strips away, leaving only the 1st strip. Give each student his own sentence strip with symbols written on post-its. Beginning with the first sentence strip, ask the students to look for the first error. When a student finds the error, have him take the post-it off of the sentence strip and place it in his hand. At the count of 3, have them reveal their answer. (For example, if the first error is indentation, they should all have the indent symbol post-it in their hand). Continue this for each error, adding a new strip after each is completed. Take turns having the students make the corrections on the strips.] Near the close of the lesson, collect the edited work from the groups. Distribute a short paragraph to each student. Using the information learned, they will individually proofread this sample. At the completion of the lesson, reinforce the reasons for proofreading. Ask the students what they have learned. How did they enjoy working with partners? How did they like taking on the role of a teacher?

Assessment: Collect students’ short paragraphs for evaluation.

Useful Internet Resources:
* Common Proofreading Symbols

* Power Proofreading – from Houghton Mifflin