Proofreading & Editing Worksheets by Super Teacher Worksheets

스크린샷 2013-07-21 오전 11.01.51To teach students how to write well they need to learn how to spot their own mistakes. I don’t know about you, but nothing drives me crazier than reading the work of students, chock full of the same old spelling and grammatical errors (as I’m sure I drove my own teachers crazy). Of course making errors is all part of the process of learning how to write, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t train bad habbits out of our kids.

With lower level students, that might mean me throwing a few sample sentence patterns from our textbook up on the board and asking the kids to tell me what’s wrong with them:

“There’s no period!”

“That’s not how you spell calculator!”

“There’s no verb in that sentence!”

“The first word in that sentence needs a capital letter!”

With higher level students, though, I tend to focus more on general editing skills – that is, finding the errors in unfamilliar reading passages. And for that I inititally turn to the proofreading and editing worksheets from Super Teacher Worksheets. They’ve prooved invaluable in helping my students develop the error-tracing laser eyes that we teachers are blessed with.

Here are some free samples from the site to try out for yourself:

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They’re so simple to use. Just pass out one of the worksheets to your students and give them about ten minutes to find the errors, either alone or in small groups. Afterwards, you go through the reading passage together and discuss where the errors are. My students love the challenge and take a great deal of pleasure finding what’s wrong with someone else’s work.

Some ESL Humor: The Atomic Symbol for Confusion

Atomic Symbol for Confusion

A mere cheap laugh to most people, the inspired EFL teacher could design an hour long class based around this image.

Thanks to Mark Anderson for sharing.

Play Pictionary with your Students for Free

One of the most popular games played by my students is Pictionary. I drag it out every once in a while as a reward for when they do well on a test or have a particularly productive day in the classroom. It’s not a filler game either. You’d be surprised at how many vocabulary words your students will recall when winning a game is at stake. (You can read up on the rules here if you are unfamiliar with the game.)

The trouble is that it retails for between $40-50 on Amazon, and I HATE forking over that kind of cash when there is a cheaper (or free) alternative that is just as good in the classroom.

So, just visit a wonderfully useful blog called The Game Gal, which provides pages and pages of topical clues for Pictionary such as these:

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The clues are downloadable as pdf files and thus easily printable and savable.

Lacking a physical game board, I draw one on the white board, making sure to leave enough space underneath for the kids to draw the pictures. I also use big red or blue dots as team tokens. The advantage of this vis-à-vis a regular board is that if you have a large class, now everybody can see where their team is in the game. You’ll also need some dice as well.

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And to add to the excitement I also use an online timer from

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And now you’re ready to play Pictionary for free.

A Little ESL Humor: No… No, it wasn’t.

My level of respect for the good people at Newsmart just went up a notch.

Thanks to Juan Quaglia for sharing and Newsmart for being cool.

Make Your Own Word Search Puzzles for Free

스크린샷 2014-05-17 오후 4.02.27In November of last year I wrote about how to make your own crossword puzzles with the Discovery Puzzle Maker. As that piece has since become one of my most popular posts, today I’m going to show you how to make your own word search puzzles. Most of my students go nuts for these kinds of worksheets, and can find the words much faster than I. They’re also a good way for children to memorize vocabulary words without feeling like they are, you know, memorizing vocabulary.

Now, I should tell you that there are plenty of alternate puzzle generators available, including this excellent one from Super Teacher Worksheets, which I also make use of from time to time. But what I’m going to show you now probably gives you the most flexibility in how you choose to make it as well as for keeping it for future use. So without further ado..

1. Choose the words to appear in your puzzle. For this example, I am using the vocabulary words from the amazing I like Vegetables song from Genki English.

This catchy tune was composed and sung by Richard Graham, the creator of Genki English, and teaches children the sentence pattern, “I like…” as well as the vegetables: onions, peas, carrots, beans, mushrooms, potatoes, pumpkin, and tomatoes. Next, write the title that will appear at the top of the page.

스크린샷 2014-05-06 오후 4.22.462. Now choose the dimensions of your puzzle. For most puzzles I use 12 x 12, but for puzzles with words of more than twelve letters you may have to adjust the size across to fit. For example, if you want to use the word Tyrannosaurus Rex, you will have to change the value in the across box to at least 15, otherwise it won’t show up in the puzzle.

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3. Choose how often the words in the puzzle share letters with other words. The default settings are usually just fine.

스크린샷 2014-05-06 오후 4.29.364. Despite what the options below say, I have always found it best to just leave the output on HTML.

스크린샷 2014-05-06 오후 4.36.435. Next type in the vocabulary words that will appear in the puzzle.

스크린샷 2014-05-06 오후 4.39.196. Lastly, press Create My Puzzle, and voilà! Now just print as many copies as you need.

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Of course you have probably noticed that the output isn’t all that nice. So to spruce it up, highlight the puzzle text and then copy and paste it into Word. Then, center it on the page and choose a font and text size of your liking. My example uses comic sans 12.

word seach 1

Underneath the puzzle you can then type in a word box. My no-nonsense method places the words in a 2 by 4 table, like this:


If your puzzle uses vocabulary from a course book, label the puzzle so that both you and your students know where it’s from. Don’t forget to make a place for students to write their name.

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And with a little more tweaking, here’s what the finished product looks like:

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Now just save the puzzle and use it again when you teach the same vocabulary to another class. 

Top 5 Video List: Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Hi folks! It’s time again for ESL Review to bring you its favorite YouTube videos for use in the English classroom. This time around we’ll be going through the best of the best of that old classic about everybody’s favorite Scottish farmer, Old MacDonald.

5. Old MacDoald Had a Farm by Organic Learning

First up, we have a video by Organic Learning. Sung with real gusto, this is a brilliant animation that is guaranteed to generate smiles. The downside is that it does run a wee bit faster than would be ideal, and may be better suited for children with more confidence and experience.

4. Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Kids TV 123

Kids TV 123 has its hits and misses, but their version of Old MacDonald is not bad at all. It goes at just the right pace for the little ones and there’s this mellowness in the voice that managed to hold my attention from beginning to end.

3. Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Pancake Manor

Over the years I have really grown to love Zach and Reggie of Pancake Manor. Even my wife liked their version of Old MacDonald, and that is no mean feat – although it might have been because she thought the boy dancing his heart out was super cute. The whole thing is worth watching just for the zinger at the end, which brings up long ago memories of Sesame Street.

You can read more about Billy Reid, the creator of Pancake Manor, by checking out this blog post at CBC Music.

2. Old MacDonald by the StoryBots

Okay, in some ways the StoryBots are not the ideal model for our young students to be learning English from. I even have trouble making out what they are saying at times. Nevertheless, their videos DO hold the attention of my young learners, and the children often surprise me with how much they pick up. And if we’re going for full disclosure… the StoryBots just give me the giggles.

Learn more about the StoryBots and their creators, Evan and Gregg Spirindellis, by watching this bit from CNN.

1. Old MacDonald had a Farm by Super Simple Songs

It was inevitable that Super Simple Songs‘ version would make it to the top of my list. The animation is crisp and the lyrics are easy to follow. More importantly, though, it has lots of what I call “no questions”, that is, questions whose answers are obviously no, like “Does a pig say ‘meow’?” This gets the youngest students, ever eager to impress the teacher, to belt out answers. Watch the video (better yet, watch it with some young kids) and you’ll see what I mean.

Some Honorable Mentions

There’s nothing like a little live action children’s programming to get the kids to get up and dancing along. They’re not quite my thing, but the characters in the Mother Goose Club and Barney and Friends are quite loveable.

And The More Esotheric…

I would surely be amiss if I didn’t include this classic by the good people at Sesame Street, though I’m sure it will just confuse the children.

A Free Site You Never Knew You Needed: PaperZip

A few months ago, I was teaching some of my elementary students using the excellent Spectrum Writing series. If I remember rightly, we were imagining what it would be like to appear in the newspaper and what such an article might be about. The class was composed exclusively of baseball nuts, so the articles they had in mind all involved themselves winning the world series, hitting multiple homeruns, or throwing a perfect game.

After having written their drafts, a little editing and feedback, it was time to publish their work. The thing was, these kids weren’t *ahem* really into the extra effort it would have taken to actually craft a newspaper out of their work. They needed a little motivation. That’s when I came across these great newspaper templates from PaperZip, a Scottish site with some of the most beautifully made, FREE classroom materials I’ve ever seen.

You can click on the images below to check them out for yourself.

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Having something that looked like a real newspaper was great inspiration for the kids to write articles that felt like they were from a real newspaper. They scoured other newspapers at home for ideas, pasted images of real baseball stars, and even wrote additional, unrelated articles to fill up the extra space. There was a certain buzz that the kids got from having these templates.

Woah!”, I thought. “Where have these been all my life?”

It later started to grow on me that I had stumbled across a chest full of teacher treasures, like these beautiful templates for writing storyboards, fairy tales, postcards, and comic books.

There isn’t yet a huge a selection to choose from (say compared to Super Teacher Worksheets), but what PaperZip lacks in volume, it makes up for in quality. Their files are beautifully crafted, easy to download, and free – never something to be sniffy about. There is even a wonderful blog with plenty of food for thought for teachers wishing to up their game in the classroom.

Scroll down and click on the images to check out just some of the great materials at PaperZip.

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