Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Red Pen Flashback

It would be interesting to know how many red pens (also orange and purple)  I used over my 33 year teaching career: I'm sure my former students will tell you that I practically "bled" on their papers. That statement would be somewhat true, but only if they did not spend adequate time proofreading their work.

click on cartoon to enlarge
This cartoon brings back memories of grading research papers that I would just as soon forget.

English (Language Arts) teachers do more than correct spelling: they are the "grammar police," and the correction symbols used on students' papers are something like this:

The last two years I was in the classroom, my students spent the first ten minutes of each class working on MUG (M = mechanics, U = usage, and G = grammar) shots. They worked in groups to find and correct errors on writing samples, and I was amazed how much their own papers improved after working on MUG shots for a quarter. My red pen usage decreased considerably.

The Grammar Police is on patrol. . .
Even though I see grammar and spelling errors constantly, I am not tempted to pull out my red pen or spray paint and make corrections: those days are behind me; however, I chuckle when someone else has not resisted the urge.

click cartoon to enlarge
Do you have red pen flashbacks?


  1. I really laughed at this post because I say myself too. For me the red pen began in my first career out of college - as a draftsperson. The engineers would go over the schematics and maps and mark corrections with a red pen just like a teacher. During my teaching years I switched to green pens at some point. But I still want to pull out my red pen or spray paint when I see big grammar errors out in public. My adult children tell me "once an English teacher, always an English teacher".

  2. Ha, ha, ha. Love the cartoons! And yes, I was on the grammar police force for years, right beside you. These bring back many memories, but I don't have that strong urge anymore to whip out a red pen.

  3. Many times Bert was told "this is PE not English" when he bled on the reports he assigned. I am just glad that Ty doesn't write letters the way he texts.

  4. You might enjoy reading, The Great Typo Hunt. (I'm replying on my Kindle and don't know how to underline or use italics, so please refrain from marking my comment.) :-)

  5. The cartoons are great! I still keep an English paper that came back to me without any RED. It was the happiest moment of my life. These days--I type really fast, so many times I reread a comment and see something that needs correction. I resist a second comment to correct the first. It's hard!

  6. What a great post. I have a very good grasp of grammar but I privately cringe while writing wondering whether I've broken some rule I'm not up on! I got a credential in high school English in my middle years. I vividly remember taking a class into the computer lab, fairly new idea to use a computer to write on. I was teaching them about the spell-check built into the program. One very misguided young lady was sure the computer was wrong and her spelling was correct! I'm sure folks have had the same issue when grammar checks became available. I have to admit my spelling has improved drastically since spell-check became a part of my every day life. Thanks for a fun post.

  7. An anchorperson on the news made me cringe this morning. He said (and I am paraphrasing)
    The Army Corps of Engineers will slow down the release of water from the Chatfield Dam into the South Platte. A young man slipped under the water. But only for a short time.
    Say what?

  8. I don't miss grading term papers at all! Great idea to have them find and correct errors on samples. I don't think I even have red pen any longer, but I am constantly laughing over the grammar and pronunciation on tv. At least it's funny now.

  9. Love this post! I am totally stealing your MUG Shots name for these exercises! My students will enjoy the humor.

  10. No ......when I subbed elementary school we were not to mark the students down for grammar or spelling. It "stunts their creativity". :::sigh:::

    Can I tell you how much the Toys R Us sign makes me CRAZY!!!

    Captain of the Grammar Police

  11. Even after 25 years, DH doesn't submit anything important until I "bleed all over it" (as he calls it). I have finally embraced texting, but can't bring myself to use its lingo. I have nightmares about the next generation's command of the English language and awake when I get to the part where I'm being punished by writing "THEIR rules" on the blackboard 100 times. If I had a nickel for every time I see "its" or "it's" misused, I could fund a quilting retreat for 25 of my favorite quilters. Your comics made me chuckle! I'm really trying to not pick up the red pen.

  12. Hahaha, these cartoons are hilarious. And no, I haven't counted all the red pens that I used in 37 years of being a teacher. But I know that I used a lot of them ...

  13. I hated grading papers! Why a librarian needed to give grades was beyond me. And I particularly hated grading kindergarteners who I couldn't figure out who they were. ARGH. I was never good at remembering names. We had all sorts of "cultural" awareness classes and it turns out that different color means different things for every culture. I tended to grade in purple or red. We lived in a multicultural community and I loved that about it. I finally just graded whatever colored pen I had hanging around. Now I have all sorts of red pencils and I hardly ever use them. Must use them up and get rid of them!


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