Writing Mini-Lessons: Proofreading for Spelling

Learning to spell is a time-consuming process even for naturally strong spellers. This year’s spelling program will consist of a combination of words and spelling patterns every sixth grader should know, the sixth grade no-excuse spelling words, your personal spelling survival list, and any words you misspell in the context of your writing. The goal is for you to move away from memorizing a set of words for a Friday spelling test simply to forget the correct spellings of these words by the following Monday and instead to internalize the correct spellings of words important to you so that they may be spelled correctly in the context of writing.

However, nobody can spell every word, and every writer makes spelling errors. Nevertheless, correct spelling matters. It makes writing easier to read and understand. Furthermore, correct spelling matters because written language represents an unspoken agreement between the writer and the reader. A reader expects to be able to decode and comprehend the written piece, and it is the responsibility of the writer to hold up that end of the bargain, being certain that a reader’s eye and mind will find what they need and understand the written work. The only thing that separates a writer who creates texts that contain misspellings from those who create accurate, readable writing is the process of proofreading. Proofreading for spelling is a tedious, time-consuming, challenging task, but it is also a necessary one. It requires a writer’s ability and willingness to slow down, focus on single words at a time, and ask of each word, "Am I absolutely certain that this is the correct spelling?" This is one part of the copy-editing process and should be completed as a distinct stage, either before focusing on conventions or after. Proofreading for spelling is a visual process that requires you to tap into your visual memory. If your eyes and memory are not certain that a word is spelled correctly, then that is a word that must be looked up to obtain the standard spelling, and if the word was misspelled, it will become a word for your personal spelling list. Below are the techniques you will use this year to proofread for correct spelling in all of your written work.

Techniques for Proofreading Spelling