Proofreading Activity for High School Students: Group Experts

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Why Is It So Important?

After reading 200 essays full of punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors, I huddled in a corner, wimpering, trying to catch flies with my tongue. I stood up, pulled out my Swiss Army knife, flipped open the corkscrew, set the graded essays on my desk, and began twisting my way through the pile of papers.

Slowed down by excessively high quality paper and misplaced staples, I turned the corkscrew on myself and started drilling my cheek. The next thing I remember, it was the next morning. In place of the corkscrew was a band-aide with proofreading activities for students written on it (it was a very large band aide) and a note recommending I retire.

The only question that remained (other than who had my Swiss Army knife) was which proofreading activity to use. I chose this one:

Proofreading Activity: Group Experts

Of all the proofreading activities for students I looked at, this proofreading activity worked best.

Divide students into groups of four. Each group will contain one of the following experts:

  1. Master Mechanic: The only tool this person will need is a grammar handbook. This person must make sure all papers in the group use proper mechanics.
  2. Word Master: This individual must have a dictionary. He or she must check for correct spelling, with special emphasis on commonly misused homonyms (their, there, they’re, to, too, two--for example). This person makes sure all words are spelled correctly.
  3. Grammar Chief: The Grammar Chief relies on his or her grammar handbook for guidance. The Grammar Chief detects incorrect use of the English language. Subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent errors, and sentence transgressions fuel the fire of the Grammar Chief’s passion.
  4. Proofreading Professional: This person’s main tool is his or her mind. The Proofreading Professional should be the smart one in the group. Proper sequence of events, organization, maintaining the reader’s interest, and clarity of writing make the Proofreading Professional happy.


  • Make sure each group member has the proper tool: dictionary or grammar handbook.
  • Give each student several post-it notes.
  • Instruct each expert to proofread group members' essays by placing a post-it note on mistakes.
  • After all the experts are finished, hand back the papers and have them make the necessary corrections, bearing in mind that the final changes are the sole responsibility of the author.
  • Each student should have access to a grammar handbook and dictionary as they correct their own paper.

This lesson was inspired by Mini Lessons for Revision by Susan Geye, 1997, Absey & Co. Spring, TX.

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This post is part of the series: Editing

Writing is a process. Editing is the final step in that process. Don’t blow weeks of hard work by editing poorly.

  1. Lesson Plan: Improve Writing by Learning How to Edit an Essay
  2. Lesson Plan: Proofreading with Peer Editing
  3. Proofreading Activity: Group Experts
  4. How to Revise an Essay: A High School Writing Lesson Plan