Online Writing Support: Remediation for Common Errors

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Objective

SWBAT hone their punctuation and usage skills using online resources.

Big Idea

In this era of texting and social media, students may ignore rules of punctuation and usage. Online resources can help remediate gaps in understanding of punctuation and commonly confused words.

Lesson Overview and Note to Teachers

My classes are held in 100-minute block sessions. This lesson takes 45 minutes from one class period.

Students use the Towson University Online Writing Support site to remediate problem areas in their writing.  I have used this site over the years with students of all ability levels with great success.  It includes exercises and self-teaching units that students can use to improve their language skills.  The students like the digital environment, real-time feedback, and self-teaching units they can peruse for help with problem areas.  

Introduction

10 minutes

I tell students that today we are going to do some troubleshooting on items I see they have difficulty with in their writing:

  • apostrophes
  • italics and quotation marks with titles and special words
  • it's and its
  • their, there, and they're
  • your and you're.

 

I often talk to them about self-reliance and finding resources to remediate their knowledge of grammar, usage, and mechanics.

I explain that today we will be working on the media center computers on the Towson University Online Writing Support site, which provides exercises and real-time feedback, to help fill their gaps in comprehension and use of the words and punctuation.  

I explain that once students arrive in the media center, I will meet them at the door and give each student a slip with the following instructions:

          1.  Go to TOWSON UNIVERSITY ONLINE WRITING SUPPORT (www.towson.edu/ows).
          2.  Under Exercises, click on PUNCTUATION.
          3.  Complete FOUR Apostrophe Exercises and THREE Italics and Quotation Marks Exercises
          4.  Complete Commonly Confused Words Exercises:

                    -Five exercises on its/it’s
                    -Five exercises on their/there/they’re
                    -Two exercises on your/you’re.

They will only have 30 minutes to complete these exercises since we need to start the next literature unit today. I also tell them that I expect them to use the punctuation and words they are working on today correctly in their writing for this class.

Media Center: Towson University Online Writing Support Exercises

35 minutes

As students enter the media center, I give them the slip with the online writing exercises they are to complete today:

          1.  Go to TOWSON UNIVERSITY ONLINE WRITING SUPPORT (www.towson.edu/ows).
          2.  Under Exercises, click on PUNCTUATION.
          3.  Complete FOUR Apostrophe Exercises and THREE Italics and Quotation Marks Exercises
          4.  Complete Commonly Confused Words Exercises:

                    -Five exercises on its/it’s
                    -Five exercises on their/there/they’re
                    -Two exercises on your/you’re.

I circulate while students answer the online questions.  As students complete the apostrophe exercise (Student Work: Apostrophes), I notice that they talk to each other about their difficulty with apostrophes.  Two students note they stopped using apostrophes in their academic writing when they stopped using them while texting, tweeting, or on Facebook: "It's just easier not to use them when typing, especially." I explain that Standard English, which must be used in academic and career settings, requires correct use of punctuation.  Otherwise, individuals can be viewed as unprofessional or ill-prepared for challenging tasks and career advancement. Students enjoy the real-time feedback (Answer Key: Sample and Feedback - Apostrophes) provided on their work by the site.  They take the time to read the feedback.

When students complete the exercises on Italics and Quotation Marks (Student Work: Italics and Quotation Marks), several of them have trouble on when to use Italics and when to use Quotation Marks with titles.  They like the feedback (Answer Key: Sample and Feedback - Quotation Marks and Italics) from the online site but have particular questions about using punctuation with literary titles.  I help them remember by noting that titles of books, epic poems like Beowulf, and plays like Romeo and Juliet are italicized or underlined if writing longhand and short stories like "Rocking-Horse Winner" are placed in quotation marks because they are shorter works.

As students complete the exercises on their/there/they're (Student Work: They're/There/Their), I get questions two students on how to differentiate among the three (Answer Key: They're/Their/There).  I talk with the students about how to distinguish between them:

  • They're: Means "They are," it's a contraction
  • There: Means a place
  • Their: Is a possessive pronoun as in "Their shoes."
  • I also point out that the context of the word's use will help students to distinguish among the three words.

 

As students are completing the last two exercises on your/you're (Student Work: You're and Your), three students say that remember "your" is possessive and "you're" means "you are" helps them to remember the difference between the two terms.  They also state that the feedback on their answers provided in the answer key (Answer Key: Sample and You're/Your) helps them to distinguish between the two terms.

At the end of class, students comment that they feel proficient in these areas after completing the exercises.  Students state that they will use the Towson Online Writing Support as a resource to remediate their language skills as necessary.