Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Getting to Know You Through Peer Editing

Joan Jackson


Students have opportunities to get to know their classmates through 'personalized' sentences that feature one student each day, and offer practice in proofreading and peer-editing related to capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and/or grammar rules.


The student proofreads writing to correct convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation, using dictionaries, handbooks, and other resources, including teacher or peers, as appropriate.

The student uses conventions of punctuation (including but not limited to commas, colons, semicolon, quotation marks, apostrophes).

The student uses conventions of capitalization (including but not limited to the names of organizations, nationalities, races, languages, religions).

The student knows patterns and rules found in the English language (for example, grammar usage, word pronunciation).


--Poster Boards (one half-sheet for each small group) OR Newsprint Sheets (one for each small group)
--Colored Markers
--Index Cards (one per student)
--Chalk Board, Dry Erase Board OR Overhead Projector
--Colored Chalk, Dry Erase Markers, OR Overhead Markers
--Paper and Pencil for each student
--Red Checking Pencils (one per student)
--Proofreading Symbols Chart for display OR copies of a proofreading chart for each student (see the attached weblinks or create your own)


1. Cut poster board sheets in half, or cut newsprint into single sheets (Check with your local newspaper office to obtain FREE end rolls of newsprint).
2. Collect colored markers, enough for each group to have a variety of colors.
3. Display a chart that contains Proofreading Symbols, OR copy and provide each student with a chart that shows proofreading symbols (see the attached weblinks to download and copy, or create your own). Students can keep these charts in their writing folders for daily use.
4. Collect colored chalk, colored dry-erase markers, OR colored overhead markers.
5. Provide, or ask students to bring in, index cards, paper, pencils, and red checking pencils w/erasers.
6. For additional lessons, create one sentence (with errors) each day for use at the beginning of the class.


1. Use your favorite method to divide the class into small groups on the first day of school, or any day during the first week of classes. Make sure that each group selects a person to record the group's information.

2. Give each group a half-sheet of poster board, or a sheet of newsprint, and colored marker(s) for use in recording.

3. Ask students, "How much do you think you already know about me?" Have students brainstorm (and record) within their groups to guess 'personalized' information about you. Encourage students to guess things about you that they wouldn't mind sharing about themselves, but try to avoid limiting the number/types of guesses too much in the beginning (with the exception of physical characteristics--these are too obvious). The students will do that later. Give them five to ten minutes to brainstorm and record as much information about you as possible. You might want to give them an example of things to guess about, but don't give away too much information. Each group member should contribute at least one 'guess' to the list. Tell students that when they are finished, each member will share at least one piece of guessed information about you with the class.

4. Using the board or overhead, call on one group at a time to present their 'guesses' to the class. The recorder for the group should stand and hold up the poster board so that everyone can see it. Each group member should take a turn and share something they guessed about you. Write down each guess in a list that will be used in the next step. Do not attempt to categorize any guesses at this point. Also, you could verify any guesses that are correct at this point, but I like to keep the students guessing about me for a while before I give them too much information about myself.

5. After all groups have contributed to the master list, have the class assist you in listing all the various categories of information that are represented on the master list. For instance--Middle Name, Nickname, Hobby, Favorite Movie, Birthplace, Number of Siblings, Unusual Habit, Great at…, Would like to visit…, Lucky Number, Likes to collect…, Scared of…, etc. Ideally you will have several categories of information presented, but if not, write down a few more to get a good variety of categories (Career Goal, Pet's Name, Favorite Tree, Love to…, Never want to…, Favorite Family Member, etc.).

6. Ask the students to think about some of the categories they really like AND those that give them interesting information about a person. Allow the class to vote to pick the top ten categories, or as many as you'd like to include when you collect information from the students.

7. Explain to the students how they will record information about themselves that applies to each category in the 'top ten' list. Students will use an index card to write their name and class period at the top of the card, then list the 'top ten' categories on the card and fill in the appropriate information for each category. The information will be used to create a sentence each day at the beginning of class during the first six-weeks that will give all students opportunities to get to know their classmates a little better. These daily sentences will also allow for practice in capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and/or grammar rules within complete sentences.

8. Hand out index cards and have students complete them.

9. Collect the index cards and store them somewhere so you can access them easily each day.

10. Use some of the information about yourself from the board/overhead to create a sentence that contains a few easy-to-recognize errors in conventions. Write it so that it can easily be seen be all students. Read the sentence as you write it, and again after it is complete. (Note: You might want to focus on only one convention at a time in the beginning of this daily practice, but you should move on to helping students search for and correct several types of errors at a time, just as they should do on their own original work.)

11. Have students copy the sentence on their papers, correcting any mistakes as they write.

l2. After students feel confident that they have the corrected version of the sentence on their papers, pass out the red checking pencils (I like to use red pencils with erasers on them because we all make mistakes).

13. Refer to the proofreading symbols chart as a guide, or hand out copies of the proofreading symbols chart for each student, and show students how to proofread/correct the sentence from beginning to end. Use a different color to mark mistakes. Students should also mark, on their papers with red pencil, any mistakes they did not correct using the same symbols. All mistakes should be circled, even those marks that must be inserted when something is missing (such as a comma or period).

14. Have students exchange papers with a classmate. The classmate should check over the corrections to make sure that nothing was missed. Any mistakes not corrected should be squared in red, then the total number of squared corrections recorded in the right margin of the paper, along with the classmate's initials.

15. Have students return the papers to their owners.

16. Collect papers for scoring (see 'Assessment').

17. Select one index card each day to create a sentence that students can correct at the beginning of class while you are taking attendance. Remember to read the sentence to students as they begin their work. For fun, leave out the student's name when creating the sentence and let the students try to guess which classmate is highlighted by the information in the sentence.


A score may be taken on a daily basis, or daily sentences may be completed on a single sheet of paper for the week and an average score for those sentences may be taken for that week. Writers are not penalized for making mistakes in the initial proofreading as they write the sentence, but only for those they do not find as we proofread/correct the sentence together. During the first week or two, I deduct only 5 points for each mistake that the writer does not correct on his/her own as we proofread/correct them together. This will be the number of squares recorded by the writer's classmate in the right margin. For instance, if the writer finds 3 mistakes that he/she missed in writing the sentence, there will be 3 red circles in the sentence. When papers are exchanged, however, the classmate might find that one additional error has been overlooked by the writer. This error would be squared in red and a - -1 - would be recorded in the right margin of the paper, along with the classmate's initials. The score for that sentence will be a ' 95 '. After the first or second week, however, I deduct 10 points for each mistake marked with a red square by the classmate. Every student has the opportunity to score a ' 100 ' each day just by making the effort and paying close attention during the whole-class correction. The following rubric may be used to assess student performance:

Outstanding Knowledge/Use of Conventions--No errors (red squares)

Very Good Knowledge/Use of Conventions--1 error

Good Knowledge/Use of Conventions--2 errors

Limited Knowledge/Use of Conventions--3 errors

Knowledge/Use of Conventions Impedes Writing Ability--4 or more errors


As your students work to vary the types and structure of their sentences, you can model this by featuring a particular type of sentence each week. For example, interrogative sentences can be created one week, sentences beginning with a prepositional phrase can be created one week, etc. You may also use words within sentences that feature a particular spelling rule each week.

Web Links

Use as a resource for this lesson plan.
Angelfire's Editing Chart

Web supplement for Getting to Know You
Angelfire's Editing Chart

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