This lesson is the kind that cropped out of a horror that grew as I graded student work one evening. The problem? My students' mistake of using its and it's interchangeably in their writing.
I beat myself up for not recognizing this issue earlier in the year. What enlightened me? The repetitive use of it's when describing symbols in their 5th grade state reports. I shuddered through paragraphs with errors such as, "The state bird of West Virginia is the Cardinal. It's color is a beautiful red," AND, "The state seal of Nebraska was adopted in 1867. It's motto is Quality Before the Law," too many times. Not every child had an issue....not even the majority, but there were enough to indicate the necessity for a quick, but impactful lesson.
A quick review is perfect with Wisc-Online: Confusing Words--It's, Its that kids can interact with on the Smart Board. Smart Board practice There are twenty simple sentences and the kids choose which of the words to use. It's a basic program to get them thinking, and out of their seats Choosing the right one! to get started.
The students feel pretty confident after the Smart Board activity as I pass out the Its vs. It's worksheet. Here is the Its vs It's Teacher Key. They are all pretty certain they can do this without issue. This remains to be seen...
I've written two paragraphs that describe the experience I had while grading their state reports- a little inside joke that they actually do appreciate. The whole thing is written with a focus on placing ITS and IT'S in as much as possible, although the ITS and IT'S are left blank so they can choose the correct one. Concentrating on the right wordThis is not a difficult task, but unless the room is quiet, and the kids can concentrate, Carefully placing ITS or IT'S it may become one.
Once they've finished, I use the key and read the paragraphs emphasizing the correct ITS or IT'S. They self-grade and can instantly see Its vs It's Examples if this is an area they should pay closer attention to while writing.
This is a great time to introduce another common writing error: your vs you're. The kids (and quite a few adults) often make this mistake as well, so it's a perfect closure activity. Your vs You're worksheet
They pick a theme, Writing his your/you're theme which can be anything at all, and write a short paragraph that utilizes both your and you're at least three times each. I point out that they're not writing a bunch of unrelated sentences that contain the words, they're writing around an idea.
Once they've finished, they exchange papers with a partner, Reading each other's "your/you're" themes and read for correctness. Reading each other's "your/you're" themes After marking if they feel there is an error, they return to the owner and reread for confirmation. Student examples of your/you're themes