Diagnostic Activity –> Handout
This work by Matthew Bloom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
This is a great first-week tool for gauging whether or not your composition students can detect any of twelve common grammar and punctuation errors: subject/verb disagreement, location of the parenthetical citation, improper parallelism, unincorporated quotation, missing comma, sentence fragment, plural v. possessive error, word choice (“loose” v. “lose”), its v. it’s, semicolon and colon mistakes, and ambiguous pronoun reference. The activity asks the students to review twelve sentences, each with a type of error listed below it. They are expected to determine whether or not the error is present in the sentence. Each passage contains the error listed below it (this can be revealed to comic effect after they’ve answered them all). What is particularly good about this activity is that if everyone gets the comma sentence wrong, you can review/assign materials to remedy the problem while not wasting time on, for example, word choice (which perhaps almost everyone got right).