Writing Assignments for Copyediting: A Chronicle.

Today is January 14, and I am giving out my first assignment to my copyediting class, which consists of 20 questions and my own sweat, headache, and eye-watering. At least the sweat and tears will be on my keyboard rather than all over their paper assignments.

I had decided that I was going to write my assignments myself. There’s only 4 of them total, so I figured I would be able to handle it, including the quizzes which will be online (which I will also write myself). I began it yesterday afternoon, after a day and a half of completely resting my tired body and mind.

First of all, I had to think of sentences. I didn’t want to use any that were given in the book, but eventually consulted it just for ideas. It was harder than writing for a story; several sentences that had nothing to do with each other and didn’t flow into a story. Later on in the class, I will give them copyediting exercises that are entire paragraphs, but it’s only the second week and we’ve only gone over punctuation.

Secondly, it is extremely hard to write sentences incorrectly. I couldn’t help it, my fingers would fly over the words and then I’d have to go back and “correct” the punctuation to make it wrong. Sometimes I’d look at it and say, “That’s way too easy,” and add in something else, or grin mischievously at some of the mistakes that might require some book-consulting to solve.

And last, I was having to think of exactly what we’d gone over and trying not to add anything in that we hadn’t gone over in class yet (which is a lot). I tried not to include anything typographically that wasn’t covered in the chapter, but realized I had included one thing. If anyone notices it, maybe they’ll get extra credit. 🙂

As I put the finishing touches on the last couple of sentences, I looked over my 20 questions, saved it quickly and emailed it off to myself for printing in the morning. Only three more assignments to write. Now that I’ve done it (and that the next ones will be a little easier to write), I think that it will be just fine.

If you have ever taught a class (or just taught anyone something), how did you write your assignments or give exercises? Did you have a source to refer to? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments. 


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