The fourth-graders that come to the ESL classroom I work in really enjoyed correcting the crazy spelling mistakes I made in the sentences I wrote on the board. For my next lesson, I wanted them to try proofreading the work of their classmates.
I passed out papers and had each student write a paragraph about any topic they wanted. I gave them a few ideas and they chose subjects like their favorite animals, favorite teacher, or the changing leaves of fall.
When they were done writing, I asked them about some of the errors they might find in someone’s work, and how to mark that they should be corrected. We thought of things like capitalization, spelling, and adding punctuation.
Finally, I passed out some colored pens I have (using the teacher’s things is always motivating, isn’t it?) and told them to leave their paper at their table and move to the chair next to them. The students went around the tables, using the colored pens to correct one mistake in each paragraph. I wanted them to only fix one thing at a time so that everyone would have a chance to look over each paragraph.
Even though fixing grammar might not be the most exciting thing to learn about, the students loved going around and correcting their classmates’ papers. I told them before we began the exercise that we weren’t trying to point out mistakes to be mean or rude to each other but to help each other learn to write better.