I collect grammar errors.
I turn those grammar errors (and other writing mistakes) into informal writing prompts that force students to quickly identify the error or errors in the item and recommend corrections.
Writing errors frequently appear in print because writers were in a hurry. Given a second look at what they wrote (or shown the same error in publisher-created exercises which tell students what type of error to look for) those writers probably would have spotted the error right away.
Here are some recent additions to my collection
I thought this item contained a grammar error, but in view of the furor over 2020 election postings to social media last year, perhaps it just told the truth:
Please note, reviews will be moderated/scanned for any malicious activities, so these will take some time to appear. (Source missing)
Here is a second item that definitely has a problem:
Karl Rove gently explains that Joe Biden beat Trump in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal. (Source missing)
A third item comes from the Bainbridge NY Free Library. It offers:
Book Bundles for kids with activity ideas. (Source: Bainbridge Connects, Vol. 7 Issue 1, 2021)
A store sign at the Sidney NY Great American has a problem:
Do not attach leashes to poles on our sidewalks. Great American will not be held responsible for their actions.
Florida got in trouble by going to Cuba in this from National Public Radio:
After making landfall in Cuba early Sunday, Florida now faces storm surges of up to four feet. (Source: Matthew S. Scwartz, NPR, 11-08-2020)
Nov. 8, 2020 was a bad day at NPR. Another NPR reporter said this:
While he said testing can help, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb cautioned against holiday gatherings and encouraged the use of high quality masks during an interview on Face the Nation on Sunday. (Source: Wayne Davis, NPR, 11-0-8-2020)
Misplaced modifiers aren’t the only errors I find
Lest you think the only errors that appear in print are misplaced modifiers, the Bainbridge, NY, Free Library offered a list of the benefits of reading that began this way:
Research shows that reading an actual real paper books: [bulleted list followed] (Source: Bainbridge Connects, Vol. 7 Issue 1, 2021)
Here is a second item with problems other than a misplaced modifier:
From last March through the present, many students are not doing work when they are learning from home. (Source: The Blue and White: School News & Notes, Bainbridge-Guilford Central School District, December 2020 • Volume 40, No. 2, p.8.)
It would be a gross exaggeration to say my students enjoy responding to informal writing prompts on grammar problems, but they do get a kick out of seeing that people who know better make the same mistakes they do and often making them for the same reason: Not taking time to review what they wrote.
Informal writing prompts require you to do more prep work than you’d need for handing out a worksheet, but once you craft them you can use them for years. And they provide students with writing practice in addition to the value of the content on which they focus.
©2021 Linda G. Aragoni