Teaching Students How to Self-Check for Common Errors



Teachers often provide students with broad focus correction areas (FCAs) to attend to when writing or completing assignments (e.g., paragraph structure, spelling, and grammar).

Although FCAs provide students with general guidance, they are not necessarily specific to students’ personal weaknesses. To make FCAs more meaningful, you can help students personalize their lists by asking them to:  


  • Identify common errors within a unit

At the end of a unit and before a unit test, ask students to review all of their work from the unit and to identify the areas they have struggled with the most.


  • Identify common errors on tests

After you return a test, ask students to analyze their answers to the test questions and identify the most common errors they made on the test.


  • Review schoolwork for common errors

Ask students to collect several writing samples. Have students review comments that were made frequently by teachers and make a list of their most common mistakes. Alternatively, you could begin collecting a portfolio of students’ work at the beginning of the year and help students find their most frequent errors as the year progresses.


  • Analyze the errors

Ask students to reflect on the common errors they have identified. What types of errors did they make? Were some errors made more frequently than others?


For lesson plans on teaching self-checking strategies, see Unit 6 Overview of the SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum.