The secret to children doing great proof-reading

Successful proof-reading by pupils depends on their believing that they’ve crafted something worth proof-reading in the first place. They won’t proof-read with enthusiasm and precision if they are doing it simply for their teacher’s evaluation. When we asked our class what motivated them to proof-read their pieces (Young & Ferguson 2020), they replied with these comments:

  • More people will be happy to read my writing.
  • It improves my writing for the people who read it.
  • I don’t do it for you [the teacher] – I do it for my readers.
  • I want my reader to read it all and not give up on it.
  • I want everyone in the class to understand it.
  • If I know it’s not going to be seen by anyone, I won’t bother to proof-read it so well.

All these comments are orientated towards a reader beyond me as their teacher. This is why our authentic and purposeful class writing projects were so important (The Writing For Pleasure Centre 2022). It’s my experience that if children love what they’ve written, if they think it’s a quality piece, a piece they know is destined to reach a defined audience, a piece that’s going to be ‘put to work’ in terms of genuine publication or performance, then they proof-read with focus and the motivation to make their writing ‘reader-friendly’ and ‘reader-ready’.

If you are interested in reading about how to develop a whole-school approach to developing proof-readers, buy our latest eBook:

In No More: My Pupils Can’t Edit, Felicity Ferguson & Ross Young invite schools and teachers to make proof-reading a rigorous and meaningful part of their class writing projects. Despite the fact that expectations for transcriptional accuracy have never been higher, schools and teachers often find it difficult to teach children to proof-read with precision and enthusiasm. This book looks to change that.

This practical guide offers an overview of The Writing For Pleasure Centre’s approach, and provides a progression for proof-reading from the EYFS-KS2. It also contains over 50 exemplar lessons taken from their affiliate schools. These lessons cover the EYFS Framework and National Curriculum objectives efficiently and effectively.

What’s special about this book is the way in which each lesson teaches children the whys of proof-reading procedures and illustrates how, as editors, they can use them for themselves. Children learn to make their writing ‘reader-friendly’ and ‘reader-ready’ prior to publication for real audiences.

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