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When a brand new writer is transcribing her first sentences, you can give her a simple method for checking her work. It is called C.O.P.S., and the letters stand for “Capitals”, “Overall look”, “Punctuation”, and “Spelling”.
(You might want to find — or create — a simple drawing of four funny “cops”, each wearing one of these letters, as a quick reminder chart which could be checked when needed.)
Right after your student finishes writing her dictated sentence, you will of course ask her to read it aloud to make sure she hasn’t forgotten any word. Or, you may ask her to follow along with her finger as you repeat the sentence, instead.
Now for C.O.P.S. Have your student write the letters COPS underneath her sentence.
She’ll check each letter off, one by one. First, “Capitals” (saying to herself as she checks, “First letter of the first word, yes; person’s name, yes…”).
After she’s certain they’re all in place, have her strike a line through the C.
Next, “Overall look”. She may say to herself something like “finger-space between all the words, yes; and the letters are resting on the baseline, yes…”
She will then strike a line through the O.
The P stands for “Punctuation”; she will say something like “I put a comma after the name Tom in that list, yes; I chose a period for the end because it’s a statement not a question, yes…” She will cross through the P.
And finally, “Spelling”. She’ll check the spelling of each word carefully, one by one. She will note her special problem words or words that “don’t play fair”. She may say, “Yes, yes… oops! ‘was’ has an A in it…” And she will put a line through the S.
There! All by herself, she has checked all the important pieces and made sure she remembered everything she needed. She doesn’t have to worry about whether she left anything undone. She can be proud of herself and her work.
All by herself.
This is an easy and fun strategy. She can begin to implement it on her own at school and at home. She’s on her way to becoming an independent proofreader!
tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or firstname.lastname@example.org