Lesson plan

Running On: Copy Editing for Run-on Sentences

Equip your students to stop run-on sentences with punctuation and capitalization! In this lesson, your students will explore copyediting symbols for capitalization and punctuation and use these symbols as they edit writing.
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  • Students will be able to identify run-on sentences and use copyediting symbols to note errors.
  • Students will be able to determine areas of confusion and rewrite sentences.
(5 minutes)
  • Invite a student to participate in a brief skit with you.
  • Using a topic of choice, speak very fast to the student without pausing between sentences.
  • Invite other students to share their observations about what happened. What was the problem? How did it impact comprehension?
  • Tell the students that sometimes this can happen in our writing and that’s why it’s important to edit and make sure that we do not have any run-on sentences.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell the students that a good writer checks to make sure that their writing is clear, consistent, and cohesive.
  • Introduce the copyediting symbols used to indicate the need for punctuation and a capital letter.
  • Using your own model writing or a rewritten excerpt that lacks punctuation and capitalization, show the students how you can determine the end of one sentence and the beginning of the next.
  • If needed, review concepts of subjects and predicates as related to complete sentences.
  • Using the copyediting symbols, model the process of inserting these symbols into the text.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell the students that their task is to help look for places in the text that need a punctuation mark or capitalization.
  • Distribute red cards or individually printed stop signs along with individual whiteboards and whiteboard markers so that each student has one of each.
  • Using your own model text with punctuation or capitalization errors (or an excerpt of your choice), invite students to participate in identifying errors and showing the copyediting marks that should be used for each error.
  • Ask the students to hold up a red card or a stop sign when they hear you get to the part that has an error.
  • Once the location has been identified, ask the students to write the correct copyediting symbol on their individual whiteboards to show how the error is marked.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask the students to complete the worksheet Jumbled Up.
  • Circulate around the room to assist individual students as needed.


  • If students need additional practice capitalizing words and using correct punctuation, ask them to complete the Caps and Marks worksheet.


  • Teach additional copyediting for conversations using quotation marks. Ask the students to complete the worksheet Quotable Movie Quotes.
  • Using document-sharing, pair students to electronically exchange their work and give each other feedback and suggestions.
  • Use an interactive whiteboard to give students practice using copyediting symbols.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask the students to write an explanation of what they should do to correct run-on sentences.
  • Ask the students to give an example of how copyediting marks for punctuation and capitalization can be used in a set of sentences.
(5 minutes)
  • Invite students to share how they can spot and correct a run-on sentence. What are some warning signs as they proofread and edit their writing?

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