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Daily Paragraph Editing, Grade 5 Review by Cindy West

Lisa Vitarisi Mathews and Sarita Chavez Silverman
Evan-Moor Educational Publishers
18 Lower Ragsdale Drive
Monterey, CA 93940-5746

Using this book for about five to ten minutes a day, your 5th grader can learn and practice the much needed skills of capitalization, punctuation, spelling and grammar. I haven't come across too many 5th graders who couldn't use some extra practice in these writing skills!

In 36 weeks of lessons, your child will spend four days a week reading through and editing a paragraph that is full of errors. The errors to fix will include everything from capitalizing proper nouns to correcting double negatives to adding quotations, and so much more. A list of 46 different skills and when they are covered is included in a scope and sequence chart at the beginning of the book.

Errors are to be corrected directly within the paragraph, so you'll find a handy chart of editing marks in the book. This chart is probably most useful if copied and either hung on the schoolroom wall or placed in an easily accessible folder. Using these editing marks on a regular basis teaches a skill that will be very useful when the student is asked to edit his own writings.

Another handy tool included in the book is an editing checklist. This allows the student to be sure he has checked the writing for all types of errors. This checklist is reproducible, but I found copying once and laminating it was ideal for using over and over again with a wipe-off marker.

Directions are given about how you might teach editing to a classroom of children, but the directions can be easily applied to a homeschool setting. For the child, newer skills are listed in a "watch for" section beside the paragraph that is to be edited. I found these to be very helpful reminders for my daughter! You will also find a teaching chart in the back of the book that teaches the grammar and writing rules that are covered in the lessons. Again, even though it's eight pages, I believe posting the rules on the wall or in an easily accessible notebook is a good idea.

For the teacher, the editing key for each paragraph is located directly opposite the student's paragraph. All the corrections your child should have made in their paragraph are colored in a red type on your editing key. This means that you can easily see what your child missed. Also included is a summary of errors your child should have found. For example, in one particular paragraph it tells you there are three capitalization errors, seven comma errors, one period error, and one language usage error. I found it helpful to tell my daughter the exact number of each error she was trying to find. It gave her confidence and eased frustration.

On Fridays, your child is given a writing prompt and instructed to write a paragraph. (Of course, it's encouraged that the paragraph should be edited as well.) The topic of the writing assignment will correspond to the topic of that week's editing exercises. For instance, in week eleven, each day of editing focuses on a brief summary of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. On Friday, your child is asked to write a paragraph describing something else strange that might happen in the land of Narnia. A guide for evaluating your child's writing is included in the book too.

The book's lessons are short and sweet, but they really have the potential to boost a child's writing and editing skills. I definitely recommend this book for any child in or around the 5th grade who needs some editing practice.

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2008