Lesson plan

Polishing Your Written Work

Whether students are revising handwritten drafts or work that has been composed on the computer, this lesson will help your writers understand some basic strategies and copyediting symbols for polishing their writing.
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  • Students will be able to use editing symbols to mark errors in writing.
  • Students will be able to identify some beneficial tools they can use when writing on the computer.
(5 minutes)
  • For this writing lesson, set the scene for your students by connecting concepts like art and science.
  • Explain to your students that sometimes people say that being a nurse is both an art and a science. When they make that claim, they are saying that nursing requires both creative or intuitive abilities, as well as technical skills. For example, a nurse needs to be able to connect with patients and make them feel cared for (art), and they also need to know a lot about math and biology (science).
  • Some people say that writing is also both an art and a science. Ask students to turn to their neighbors and discuss what they think this means.
  • Call on students to share their thoughts. Explain that writing is about communicating thoughts through word choice, imagery, and voice, but it also requires an understanding of technical rules like grammar, capitalization, and computer skills.
(15 minutes)
(15 minutes)
  • Go over the list "Tools and Strategies for Polishing Your Writing on the Computer" on Polishing Writing: Editing Symbols and Tips for Writing on the Computer. If your students are not that familiar with word processing you should demonstrate each tool in the program that they will most likely use in their learning setting (for example, Microsoft Word or Google Docs).
(5 minutes)
  • In small groups, have students discuss and come to a consensus about the five most important tools that you just demonstrated. Once they have reached a consensus, have them circle their top five.


  • Sit with students at computers and walk them through the skills, demonstrating the tools on a sample piece of writing.
  • Hang a chart with the editing symbols on a poster in the classroom to use as a reference.


  • Have students work independently to provide examples of how editing symbols are used.
  • Have students work on the computer to draft a simple, friendly letter to a friend and explore the tools and strategies presented in class.
(5 minutes)
  • Write a sentence on the board that has several errors of the type on the editing list. Have students copy it and then use editing symbols to show where corrections are needed. Spot check or collect to assess.
(5 minutes)
  • Have groups share their top five and give evidence to support their choices.

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