Posts Tagged ‘proofreading’

Grammar in the Writing Context

Teachers know the power of connected learning. When one strand of rope is twisted with another (or several), the rope is less likely to break.

Now some things need to be taught in isolation, but when teachers take the time to show students the connections to other learning, students grasp the big picture and are more likely to retain the information. This finding has been integral to learning theory for years. Indeed, association and linking are powerful memory tools.

With this educational assumption, let’s take a look at one specific educational maxim: Grammar must be taught in the writing context.  

For most teachers, taught usually implies introduce. In other words, to have shared some new content, concept, or skill (or standard) that students had not yet learned. This presents problems for developing student writers, because teachers have been taught that grammar should only be taught in the writing context. This chiefly means that grammar has not be taught at all. The pipe dream of some is that targeted mini-lessons, say one on commas or pronoun antecedents, will be used in the editing stage of the writing process for those students who need them. It just does not get done on a regular basis and the students do not get enough practice to master these skills.

The mini-lesson only approach is akin to assigning your own child the task of building an outdoor play structure (think writing process assignment) in which you provide excellent directions, but hand over the toolbox without prior instruction.

The directions begin with the following: “Use only a ball peen hammer to nail and countersink all 16 penny galvanized.”

One the student has completed building the structure (the draft or revised draft), the teacher determines that the entire class needs a mini-lesson to address the obvious construction short-comings. How inefficient and frustrating.

Clearly, it makes so much more sense to teach every component of the directions before using or mis-using the tools. How you teach (connect to prior learning, identity, define terminology, provide examples, use mentor modeling, provide guided practice, independent practice with feedback, give formative assessment, and remediate with individualized practice) matters. Obviously, each of these steps would be critically important in teaching this direction.

If you would agree that this instructional approach would also make sense with grammar instruction, let me attempt to convince you of one other key instructional point.

Students who did not demonstrate mastery in their first or revised attempts (think first or revised writing drafts) must be re-taught. Yes, mini-lessons in this context would make sense. But, in terms of writing feedback…

Wouldn’t it make sense to use the same language of instruction in both teaching and writing feedbackThat would be powerful, memorable instruction: truly teaching grammar in the writing context.

Grammar in the Writing Context

Writing Context

You can do this with the author’s e-Comments Chrome Extension. This app includes hundreds of canned writing comments with the same language of instruction as the author’s Teaching Grammar and Mechanics and the companion program, Teaching Essay Strategies. Use the same terminology and definitions in your teaching and annotations in Google docs (and slides) comments. Now, that’s a seamless connection to teach and practice grammar and mechanics in the writing context!

Save time grading and provide better writing feedback!

The e-Comments program includes four insertable comment banks (Grades 3‒6, Grades 6‒9, Grades 9‒12, and College/Workplace) feature writing format and citations, essay and story structure, essay and story content analysis, sentence formation and writing style, word choice, grammar, and mechanics.

When you open a student’s doc or slide, the e-Comments menu pops-up in the right margin. Simply highlight a writing issue in the student’s text and click on a comment button. The comment automatically appears in the margin next to the student’s text.


  • Would all my students need this program? No, just the teacher. The e-Comments program syncs to multiple devices and saves to the cloud.
  • Can I edit these e-comments? Yes, they are customizable.
  • Can I add, format, and save my own custom writing comments to the e-Comment menu? Yes.
  • Can I record audio comments? Yes.
  • Can I record video comments? Yes, just make sure your hair isn’t out of place.
  • Can I use speech to text? Yes, save time typing personalized comment additions.

I’m not tech proficient. Is e-Comments easy to use? Yes. The one-page Quick Start User Guide and video tutorial will get you grading or editing in just minutes. No time-consuming and complicated multiple clicks, dropdown menus, or comment codes. This program is intuitive and user-friendly.

Check out the author’s Teaching Grammar and Mechanics and Teaching Essay Strategies programs, and purchase or add the free trial of the e-Comments Chrome Extension.

Teaching Grammar and Mechanics Programs

Teaching Grammar and Mechanics

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Essay Strategies

Teaching Essay Strategies

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PRESS RELEASE: e-Comments Chrome Extension


Pennington Publishing has just released its free e-Comments Chrome Extension. With the free e-Comments Chrome Extension,  teachers and workplace supervisors insert hundreds of customizable Common Core-aligned comments, which identify, explain, and show  how to revise writing issues, with just one click from the e-Comments menu. Comments don’t simply flag errors or suggest revisions; these comprehensive comments help students learn. Teachers can add their own comments to the menu, including audio, video, and speech-to-text. Includes separate comment banks for grades 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and College/Workplace.  Save time grading and provide better writing feedback with the free e-Comments Chrome Extension.

Announcing Pennington Publishing’s e-Comments Chrome Extension release party! You’re invited to add this time-saving extension to help you cut your grading time in half for stories, essays, and reports while providing better writing feedback. Check out the introductory video and add this free extension to your Chrome toolbar: e-Comments Chrome Extension.

With this extension you can automatically insert over 200 canned comments from each of four different comment levels into Google docs and slides with just one click from our pop-up e-Comments menu. Each instructional comment identifies, explains, and shows your writers how to revise a specific writing issue. These comments don’t simply flag errors or suggest revisions, they help your writers learn.

Press Release e-Comments

e-Comments Press Release


Can I edit these comments? Yes, they are customizable.

Can I add, format, and save my own custom writing comments to the e-Comment menu? Yes.

Can I record audio comments? Yes.

Can I record video comments? Yes, just make sure your hair isn’t out of place.

Can I use speech to text? Yes, save time typing personalized comment additions.

Can I hold writers accountable for reading the comments and revising their work? Yes, check out the video to see how.

The four insertable comment sets (Grades 3‒6, Grades 6‒9, Grades 9‒12, and College/Workplace) feature writing format and citations, essay and story structure, essay and story content analysis, sentence formation and writing style, word choice, grammar, and mechanics. Each of the comment sets is printable and you can easily switch back and forth in the e-Comments menu. Writers can ask questions and you can reply in the comments section. Comments are aligned to the Common Core Anchor Standards for Writing and Language and include plenty of positive and constructive feedback.

The one-page Quick Start User Guide and video tutorial will get you grading or editing in just minutes. No time-consuming and complicated multiple clicks, dropdown menus, or comment codes, and the comments are automatically saved to the cloud and sync to multiple devices. This program is intuitive and user-friendly. Tell your colleagues about this free time-saving extension!


Why not use the same language of instruction as the e-Comments program for program instruction? Mark Pennington is the author of Teaching Essay Strategies, Teaching Grammar and Mechanics, Differentiated Spelling Instructionand the Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit.

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How to Teach Proofreading Strategies

Proofreading Strategies

How to Teach Proofreading

Before sharing these proofreading strategies, let’s place proofreading in its proper place within the writing process. Although writing process purists would always relegate proofreading to the last step in the process: the editing step, many fine writers choose to proofread throughout the composition process. Especially with the advent of effective spelling and grammar tools on Microsoft Word® and other word processing programs, features such as “Auto Correct” may make the “proofread-continuously-and-throughout” approach preferable for some writers.

Proofreading should certainly be treated differently from writing revision. Proofreading focuses on conventional correctness, while revision works with the writer’s meaning-making, that is, ideas and how these ideas are expressed in exposition or how the story is told in narration. Although the divisions between the two processes are not always neat and tidy, most would agree that spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, proper use of quotes, paragraphs, usage, and some word choice issues belong to the proofreading process, while sentence variety, coherence, unity, transitions, and other word choice issues would belong to the revision process.

The Proofreading Process

The subject of proofreading having been better defined, let’s move on to the proofreading process. Up to 50 percent of all spelling and grammatical errors can be corrected by applying proofreading strategies. Many might question that percentage and ask, “How can writers find their own mistakes? If they knew how to write something correctly, wouldn’t they do so in the first place? No one intentionally makes mistakes.”

Writers make errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, proper use of quotes, paragraphs, usage, and word choice for a variety of reasons. Of course, ignorance is certainly a chief reason. However, writers also make mistakes due to carelessness or distractions. Writers may make mistakes when reflecting back on what they just wrote or thinking ahead to what they will write next. All writers have had the experience of thinking they are saying one thing, but actually saying another.

Although word processors have helpful tools, the human element of proofreading is still essential. There is no substitute for carefully re-reading one’s own work. Even if someone else has looked for mistakes, the writer best knows what is being said.

Proofreading Strategies

1. Proofread one paragraph at a time. Paragraphs are the writer’s divisions of meaning. A new paragraph means a new topic or a new voice. Thus, the writer must deal with the old completely, before moving on to the new. Complete all of the following proofreading strategies before moving on to the next paragraph. The corrections appear at the end of the article.


Silently read the three paragraphs all the way through. Then, re-read one paragraph at a time, consciously looking for errors. Most writers will find more errors when focused on one paragraph at a time.

“Come look at whats going on, but hurry, I said. I was certain the that admonition was exaggerated as, usual. But, I obediently want outside in to the darkness.

Amanda pointed up to the darkening sky “and said, this is very strange indeed.”

I found it hard too except what I saw in that sky. The the old familar moon was partially covered by a eclipse and had turned blood read.

2. Read the paragraph out loud. Pronunciation informs spelling and will provide an auditory check with the writer’s own oral language skills read for grammar, usage, and word choice.


Read the following silently at a normal reading pace. Then, read it out loud. Most will find that pronunciation helps the reader identify the correct meanings of the words from the spelling errors. The corrections appear at the end of the article.

Wunts ah pawn ah tyem, dare wur deez tree leddel peegz zat lift en dah zaym playz. Eggsulee, day lift en dare owen homz en dah viludg. Wun uv deez howez s wuz mayd uv ster aw, uhnudder ov stah ix, weth dah vest wun billt owd uv ber ix.

Wun mornen, de viludg wulf kaym dew balow dez peegz howz s dowen. De furest wunz kaym dowen eze, bud de ber ik howz wud ant fahel. De dum wulf klhimd uhp awn de ruf ant juppd dowen dah cha emne. Dah tree leddel peegz hadah boyleenk pahot uv wahder waytink en de fierplaz. Da wulf fel en de pahot ant de peegz ade im fer lahunj.


Used by kind permission of Random House from Better Spelling in 5 Minutes a Day, Mark Pennington, ©2001 Prima Publishing, p.108

3. If typed on a word processor, try increasing the font size or changing the font to see the words in a new way. Print it out to proofread. Different formats help us see things differently.

4. Focus on one specific proofreading issue at a time. For example, proofread the paragraph out loud for grammar mistakes. Then, proofread the same paragraph out loud for capitalization mistakes, etc.

5. Over-emphasize punctuation when you proofread out loud. Errors in commas and question marks are better identified with this strategy.

6. Use a 3 x 5 card with one corner cut out in order to isolate individual words. Then, proofread the paragraph by reading it backwards with the card, isolating one word at a time. Proofreading by isolating words helps because we often “read through” spelling or word choice errors because we know what we mean to say and because we read for meaning, instead of focusing on individual words.


Read the following silently at a normal reading pace. Then, read it out loud and backwards, using your finger to isolate each word. Most will find that isolation helps the reader identify spelling and word choice errors. The corrections appear at the end of the article.

Of corse, you were probally more suprised then I to here about the difficulties they where haveing.

7. Teach students and parents the common proofreading symbols and have both practice on each other’s papers.

8. Teach the commonly confused homonyms such as hear-here and there-their-they’re and tell students to be especially alert for these words when proofreading.

9. Waiting a few days allows a writer to edit with fresh eyes-so does having someone else proofread your paper.

10. Use spell check and grammar check on the word processor, but use them judiciously. Spell check misses homophones (words sounding the same, but spelled differently) and omitted words.


Read the following, noticing the homophones (sounds the same-spelled differently). None of these errors would be caught by word processing tools.

Eye no sum won named Spell Check.

He lives in my Pea See.

He’s  awl weighs their to try and help

When I hit a wrong key.

but when I rite an e-male,

On him I can’t depend.

I kneed two also proof reed

Bee four I push the SEND

Used by kind permission of Random House from Better Spelling in 5 Minutes a Day, Mark Pennington, ©2001 Prima Publishing, p.113

The E-Mail I wish I Hadn’t Sent

Dear Martha,

I’m so sad about what has happened to you! I’ve never seen such a huge waist, but their loss will be your gain. at least now I’ll get to see more of you. Remember, good things come to those who weight.

Your Friend, Through Thick and Tin,


P.S. Cheer up. You’ll find another job soon.

Used by kind permission of Random House from Better Spelling in 5 Minutes a Day, Mark Pennington, ©2001 Prima Publishing, p.114


“Come look at what’s going on, but hurry, I said. I was certain that the admonition was exaggerated, as usual. But, I obediently went outside into the darkness.

Amanda pointed up to the darkening sky and said, “This is very strange, indeed.”

I found it hard to accept what I saw in that sky. The the old familiar moon was partially covered by an eclipse and had turned blood red.


Once upon a time, there were these three little pigs that lived in the same place. Actually, they lived in their own homes in the village. One of these houses was made of straw, another of sticks, with the best one built out of bricks.

One morning, the village wolf came to blow these pigs’ houses down. The first ones came down easy, but the brick house wouldn’t fall. The dumb wolf climbed up on the roof and jumped down the chimney. The three little pigs had a boiling pot of water waiting in the fireplace. The wolf fell in the pot and the pigs ate him for lunch.

The End


Of course, you were probably more surprised than I to hear about the difficulties they were having.


Check out this complete writing process essay to see a sample of the resources provided in Teaching Essay StrategiesThe download includes writing prompt, paired reading resource, brainstorm activity, prewriting graphic organizer, rough draft directions, response-editing activity, and analytical rubric.

Get the Writing Process Essay FREE Resource:

Find essay strategy worksheets, on-demand writing fluencies, sentence revision and rhetorical stance “openers,” remedial writing lessons, posters, and editing resources to differentiate essay writing instruction in the comprehensive writing curriculum, Teaching Essay Strategies
The author’s Teaching Essay Strategies, includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” remedial writing lessons, writing posters, and editing resources to differentiate essay writing instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum.

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Essay Strategies

Teaching Essay Strategies

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The Most Useful Punctuation and Capitalization Rules

GRAMMAR PROGRAMS from Pennington Publishing

Pennington Publishing GRAMMAR PROGRAMS

We’ve all had a chuckle or two when students or others have misused punctuation.

Of course the famous “Let’s eat grandma” would rank close to the top. Others include “I always have enjoyed cooking my friends, neighbors, and most of all my family” or the neighborhood sign, “SLOW CHILDREN AT PLAY.”

My favorite would have to be this one:

“A woman, without her man, is nothing.” Let’s revise as the following: “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

Wish I knew whom to credit for this one:

Dear John,

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, and thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy. Will you let me be yours?


Now let’s see the difference just by moving around the punctuation:

Dear John,

I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, and thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?



Knowing how to properly punctuate and capitalize will help readers better understand what one intends. Additionally, readers judge misuse quite harshly. Following are punctuation with examples and capitalization with examples:



-Use commas before or after speaker tags.

She said, “Call me at home.”

-Use commas to set apart appositives.

That man, the one with the hat, left.

-Use commas after each item in lists (except the last).

John, Jane, and Jose left early.

-Use commas after introductory words or phrases.

First of all, you should listen to me.

-Use commas between number dates and years.

It all happened on May 3, 1999.

-Use commas between geographical places.

She lived in Tampa, Florida.

-Use commas after greetings/closings in personal letters.

Dear Ralph, … Sincerely, …

-Use commas after nouns of direct address.

Kristin, leave some for your sister.

-Use commas before conjunctions to join two independent clauses.

I liked her, and she liked me.

Exclamation Points    

-Use exclamation points for surprise or strong emotions.

The decision really shocked me!

Quotation Marks

-Use quotation marks before and after direct quotations.

Sue said, “I’m going to bed.”

-Use quotation marks before and after songs, poems, document titles, book chapters, magazine articles, and short story titles.

Whenever I hear “Clementine,” it reminds me of “Leaves of Grass” and “The Gettysburg Address.”


-Use colons after business letter greetings.

Dear Sirs:

-Use colons to introduce lists.

The following: shoes, pants, and…

-Use colons between numbers in relationship.

8:52 P.M.


-Use semicolons to join independent clauses without conjunctions.

Jamal went to school; Larry met him.


-Underline movie, television show, book, magazine, and work of art titles.

I saw the wonderful Fiddler on the Roof last night.


-Use apostrophes for contractions.

I can’t see what they’re doing.

-Use apostrophes for singular and plural possessives.

Tom’s and the girls’ coats were red.


-Use parentheses to explain or define.

The hombre (man) rode off alone.


-Capitalize proper nouns (a name that is given to special persons, places, or things).

Ryan visited Los Angeles to visit the Holocaust Museum.

-Capitalize holidays, dates, groups, organizations, and businesses.

Last Easter on March 24, 2002 the P.T.A. and McDonald’s helped out.

-Capitalize the first, last, and any important words in titles.

Prince Charles’s favorite book was Islands of Adventure.

-Capitalize the names of languages and peoples.

He spoke Spanish to the Indians.

-Capitalize special events and historical periods.

The New Year’s Day Parade celebrates the Year of the Dog.


Teaching Grammar and Mechanics for Grades 4-High School

Teaching Grammar and Mechanics Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and High School Programs

I’m Mark Pennington, author of the full-year interactive grammar notebooks,  grammar literacy centers, and the traditional grade-level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and high school Teaching Grammar and Mechanics programs. Teaching Grammar and Mechanics includes 56 (64 for high school) interactive language conventions lessons,  designed for twice-per-week direct instruction in the grade-level grammar, usage, and mechanics standards. The scripted lessons (perfect for the grammatically-challenged teacher) are formatted for classroom display. Standards review, definitions and examples, practice and error analysis, simple sentence diagrams, mentor texts with writing applications, and formative assessments are woven into every 25-minute lesson. The program also includes the Diagnostic Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Assessments with corresponding worksheets to help students catch up, while they keep up with grade-level, standards-aligned instruction.

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Programs

Or why not get the value-priced Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 BUNDLES? These grade-level programs include both teacher’s guide and student workbooks and are designed to help you teach all the Common Core Anchor Standards for Language. In addition to the Teaching Grammar and Mechanics program, each BUNDLE provides weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of the grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary components.

The program also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment.

Check out the brief introductory video and enter DISCOUNT CODE 3716 at check-out for 10% off this value-priced program. We do sell print versions of the teacher’s guide and student workbooks. Contact for pricing. Read what teachers are saying about this comprehensive program:

The most comprehensive and easy to teach grammar, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary program. I’m teaching all of the grade-level standards and remediating previous grade-level standards. The no-prep and minimal correction design of this program really respects a teacher’s time. At last, I’m teaching an integrated program–not a hodge-podge collection of DOL grammar, spelling and vocabulary lists, and assorted worksheets. I see measurable progress with both my grade-level and intervention students. BTW… I love the scripted lessons!

─Julie Villenueve

Get the Grammar and Mechanics Grades 4-8 Instructional Scope and Sequence FREE Resource:

Get the Diagnostic Grammar and Usage Assessment FREE Resource:

Get the Diagnostic Mechanics Assessment FREE Resource:

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