Do you have a list of words and phrases that make you cringe when you read student writing?
As you can see.
First person pronouns.
There are many reasons _____ is ____.
This year I stumbled on a solution for these unsightly words. Let me introduce to you the Control + F Checklist - a way for students to search their documents and remove these words that make me twitch.
Open a document filled with writing (or even just use this webpage).
Press Control + F (or Command + F if you're on a Mac).
This will create a box in the upper right-hand corner of your document that looks like this:
This gives you the power to search your document for any word or piece of punctuation that you'd like.
For example, type the word is. Now every is is highlighted within your document. Press spacebar before and after the word is in your search, and now it'll only highlight where you've used that nasty state-of-being verb (as opposed to this, for example).
This allows students to quickly and easily see how and where they've used the words you hate to see in their writing. By pressing the arrows in the search, a student can scroll through his or her entire piece of writing.
By giving them a Control + F Checklist, you can guide students to making corrections in their writing. I even use it for comma usage. I love that I can tell them what to search for, questions to think about in regards to that search, and even offer some better alternatives.
I've even been experimenting with having students create their personalized checklist. For example, some of my students want to put a comma before because - we add because to their list and they slow down and search for this improper comma usage.
So go ahead and try it. Open my document, make yourself a copy, and start editing it to include the list of words you hate to see in your students' writing.