When I know that my students are capable of reviewing their errors independently, I no longer make corrections on their essays. I simply circle or underline the grammatical and/or spelling errors and then ask them to try to correct the errors on their own.
If I tell the students what they have done wrong, they will simply make the correction on the revised copy without fully understanding the mistake.
Another technique that helps my students is to ask them to keep a running list of common errors. For example, after a first essay, a student might note that he or she had the following errors: misuse of prepositions, frequent spelling errors, lack of transitions, and incomplete sentences. When the student is ready to work on his or her next assignment, the sheet should be taped on the wall near where the student is working or on the desk.
In order to discourage frequent errors, I might enforce stricter consequences for mistakes that have already been logged. For example, I might take two points instead of one point from the students final grade if he or she makes a mistake that’s already on the common error log.
Especially for older students, who are more hesitant to break old writing habits and explore their mistakes, this method works quickly and effectively.
(Photo by plindberg)