I don’t have any goals miss…..

The last day of classes and since I am really into planning and micro-goal setting, I thought I’d ask my B2 level students (teenagers) to write an essay about their goals for 2016 and what they are going to do to make them happen. I thought it was a great idea. “Think of something you want to achieve and say how you are going to make it happen”. Ummmm. Nope. My students hated the idea, and me being a stubborn/bad teacher, I insisted. I said, ” You must want to achieve something! Even if it’s going to a higher level of LOL (League of Legends=video game). I want you to tell me how you will become better at playing your game!”. Their response, ” But that’s not a goal miss” Yay! There is hope. So I said, ” Write about anything! Have a little/big goal and tell me how you will make it happen”. Total distress!! Again ” but we don’t have any goals…..”

So, this made me wonder about my teaching and my kids. I mean, OK, maybe I shouldn’t have set this as homework. Maybe I could have done a bit more brainstorming. We did talk about my goals and various things someone may want to achieve in a year. Big goals vs. little goals, but maybe they neeeded more help. Maybe even, worst case scenario,my kids are not mature enough to have, say, big goals. But they must have some!! What kind of world is this where teenagers say, ” I don’t have any goals miss!”? It’s sad and scary. Actually, and this has occurred to me after publishing the post, the worst scenario is this one: It’s because they are Greek kids living in the days of recession where money is tight, there is a lot of depression, and the news are just bombarding us with everything that is not working. Do my kids have no hope, hence no goals? That’s even sadder and scarier.

Anyways, I set this as an Xmas essay. I will tell you what they came up with once I have their answers!!

Lousakies

Till next time…

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A fish, a thesis and ibid: Teaching (academic) writing through drawings

Drawing in the EFL class is something many teachers do in order to explain something like a grammar point or to have some fun like getting your learners to make a picture composition. I usually draw when I am teaching young learners, and I also draw when I want to show my emotions. For example, I will draw a smiley face after the Homework tasks have been written on the board to show my students that I will be happy when they do all their work.

But what about English for academic purposes? Do you draw in your EAP classes? I do, especially when I am teaching writing. I thought I’d share two of my favourite EAP pics which are on the wall somewhere in almost all my EAP classes. Keep in mind that these drawings can be used in any context where thesis statements and sources are part of a writing class, so these drawings can go beyond the EAP classroom.

The fish, the thesis and the arguments

It is quite hard for international students who are learning EAP for the first time to understand what a thesis statement is. They come from different educational backgrounds and they are trying to do a post-graduate degree in an English-speaking (that’s my teaching contexts) country. They probably have never heard or written a thesis statement before. Add the term argumentative essay, and things become even more complicated. This applies to any student who is first introduced to terms thesis and argumentative essay. That’s when  the Picasso in me takes action. I draw a fish.

The fish

Why a fish? Well, it gives a good representation of the connection between the thesis and the arguments. The back bone of the fish is the thesis statement, and the arguments are the fish’s bones, all the bones are connected connected to the backbone. I often tell my learners that if a bone breaks, then the fish is in trouble, Just like their essays. I say, ”Your arguments need to be linked to your thesis statement and what you are trying to prove”.

Fish

Follow up task: When I am teaching writing and students have written a thesis statement and have a draft of the main body of the  essay, I ask them to go over the main body and write down the arguments (main ideas). I then tell them to look at their thesis and see if there is a connection and what that connection is. They can even draw their own fish if they want to!

The ‘referenced’ drawing

In-text citations are also quite hard for students. I find that my students get overwhelmed by the hard vocabulary in paraphrased sources or quotes (especially in academic texts) that they lose sight of the mechanics of referencing. Very often I show them how to do in-text citations by drawing. Below you can see two examples. One shows how I explain citing a secondary source and the other shows them what ibid means. So, after going through all the websites that are dedicated to referencing, I turn these concepts into visuals.

                      IBIDblack and Jackson

These pictures are all on my wall and help me explain in a very simple way some really hard things!

What do you use drawing for? Feel free to leave a comment below and share this post if you like it! Thanks for reading    🙂

Till next time…..

 

E-books: An Interview with Phil Wade

Hi Phil,

First of all, thank you for agreeing to this interview. As a teacher and a blogger, I am really interested in e-books, so I thought it was time to pick your brain a bit, and ask you a few questions about e-books. So, here are my questions.

What is an e-book (what are its properties) and how can it be read?

That is a good question. I think the simplest ebooks are PDFs. You can read them on any device. The most popular version is the ePub format that most online ebook distributors use. There are various other formats too but for me, I just think about the original Word Doc on my computer and then select ‘all formats’ when I upload them. Doing this helps anyone with any device read them from iPads to Kindles to phones to maybe even watches I guess.

Why e-books? I mean why did you decide to make an e-book as opposed to sharing everything on your personal blog for example?

Well, I went through an article writing phase where I felt that articles were a good way to share ideas and help people learn things. Then I went into blogging and learned about how I can interact with people quicker and become part of a blogging community. After that, I realized that I wanted to write longer blog posts but in the same kind of direct style. So, I started writing short ebooks as I loved the idea of having a collection on my iPad and reading short books on the bus, at break time or at home. I really liked having complete books i.e. introductions, main parts and samples. Each could deal with one subject and looked professional, I hoped.

What are the advantages of an e-book?

For me, I can read them on my phone. I use my phone all day for everything almost. Being able to open an ebook and read a page when I have some time between lessons or on my commute is very helpful. I can also quickly move through the book and change books.  Every week, I am able to select my weekly reading list and put them on my phone or iPad too. If I come across something new, I can download it on the bus and read it there and then. As I also teach with a phone and tablet, having books handy to open and use is very convenient and not as heavy as carrying around textbooks.

Are there any disadvantages?

I wouldn’t sit and read for hours on my phone, iPad or even computer. I prefer to read a short book or just a part in one go. Long ebooks can take time to download too. Some people use black and white or grey Kindles which I am not keen on. I much prefer a colour iPad Retina for reading.

Can teachers make an income from e-books?

Hmmmm. The golden question. I would say NO. I don’t know anyone who does but I guess some must do as there are lots of ebook writers. Probably novels make better money but only if the writers are known and they do marketing, lots of it. Most of the comments I have had from teachers/writers is related to this. Some are not happy about free ebooks or ebooks in general. Actually, I approached several publishers and none were interested. You can’t blame them though. I like writing and sharing them. If you think it is going to make you millions, you will be very surprised.

The majority of new ebook writers seem to be either bloggers eager to make a book or writers at publishers who want to make better money. I advise both to research costs and potential profits. The new VAT rule devastated the industry so you will make a lot less money now than before. When you end up with less than 50 or 40% of a book and then have to pay taxes in your own country, you do have to question if it’s worth the hassle.

I’d like you to now give us a step to step guide on how to go about making and uploading/sharing an e-book. Let’s call this the e-book starter kit.

Go the easy way and use an online platform. Write your book on it, select a cover and click ‘publish’. Done. I spent weeks of pulling out my hair doing formatting and I almost quit. I saw http://www.fastpencil.com/ the other day and it seemed good. I find writing on these platforms to be much easier than writing a Word Doc. Here is a much better explanation of the full process than I could give:

http://www.wikihow.com/Write-Your-First-eBook

 

Can you tell us a bit about your e-books? What do you write about? How do you get inspired? How has writing e-books affected/benefited you, your career?

I wrote 10 ebooks for Business English teachers. They are based on years of teaching and aimed at helping teachers become better at BE. My aim was to focus on developing teachers so they can help themselves rather than just be dependent on using books and worksheets all the time, even though they are good. I also crowdsourced a TEFL Teacher Tips ebook with some newish friends and co-wrote an IELTS Tips ebook.

The first 6 books were almost fully formed in my head as I had been thinking about them for years and I had already written articles on them so the books were a natural extension. The other 4 in the series I had to come up with from scratch as I decided to do a series. I had always been jealous of series and series editor and I thought “why can’t I have one?”. No publisher would ever let me write a BE book let alone a series. So the other books took some time to come up with. I just kept teaching and writing down possible topic ideas that colleagues would like.

The Teacher Tips one had ideas from all of us so I can’t take any credit for that one and the IELTS one I only helped with as my colleague, Jenny Bedwell, is an IELTS genius.

I have about 6 more ebooks in various stages on my computer. I am great with the ideas but writing 10+ pages is hard. I can easily write 5-10.

As the first 10 are free, I have made no money from them but I really enjoy seeing the downloads and hearing nice comments from people who find them useful. Most of these have been from poor areas where they can’t afford or even get traditional books. I also love writing and the whole process. I found a wonderful editor, Noreen Lam, who is very positive like me and really helps me come up with good ebooks. At the beginning, I was 100% against having an editor because some previous ones I had worked with had been a bit too tough, I needed more of a thinking partner than a member of the grammar police 😉 And someone who understood ebooks and edevices. They aren’t just books on phones.

I benefit from increasing my PLN too and I have been lucky enough to get to know other writers and people in the industry. We all support each other. As I see it, the main problem is always advertising. It is very very hard to promote indie ebooks as not every journal or TEFL association wants to review them. Perhaps though this is a good thing as it makes a very distinct line between traditional publishing and digital. This does mean that we need to develop the alternative publishing industry though which is why I created a marketing campaign for me and 3 other authors (Adam Simpson, Jorge Sette and Tyson Seburn) . I started with some images showing our ebooks and added the ‘by teachers for teachers’ and ‘for teachers by teachers’ slogans and #ELTebooks. As I see it, if each author advertises all the books, we each get more coverage and hopefully, the amount of writers will grow. This really is ELT writers making ebooks for other ELT teachers. Some critics have said the quality isn’t as good as real books and that we may be lowering coursebook writers incomes or pay etc but I don’t agree. From what I know, all publishers are having a tough time and really should be moving more into technology. These ebooks are a new niche as they are very specific, short and accessible. Published books tend to be longer, more formal and more general. They need mass markets and to be based on market research and forecasts. Our ebooks can be about anything and made much faster. This is a completely different market, as I see it.

Another point is that I actually haven’t worked anywhere in years that has used traditional coursebooks as nobody can afford them and they aren’t convenient. Every place I work uses digital materials and the odd handout. I even make ebooks for my courses now at the end to revise everything. I’m not bashing publishers or coursebook writers at all. I think they are great and I wish I could work on them but I’m not that good, famous or lucky. I believe in diversity and empowering teachers. I hope my books appeal to teachers and help them develop.

Oh, I entered the BE books for the David Riley award too and they were mentioned. That was incredible. My ELTons application wasn’t quite as succesful.

Where can someone find your e-books?

On Smashwords and iTunes. I don’t use Amazon which nobody seems to understand why. I don’t think you can give free books on there and I heard there is a set minimum price. I like the culture of Smashwords as it is for indie writers and iTunes is all about quality.

Business English Teacher Development series:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/philwade

https://itunes.apple.com/nz/artist/phil-wade/id215455871?mt=11

Top IELTS Speaking Tips:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/510591

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/top-ielts-speaking-tips/id958690384?mt=11

TEFL Teacher Tips

Epub:

https://app.box.com/s/oslx186nukb070pu4rs8

PDF:

https://app.box.com/s/x4g8e7g8giup5a6w4xzf

Thank you so much for this interview!

My pleasure. It was very nice to be asked. I love your blog and your FB posts    🙂

Follow #ELTebooks on FB

ELTebooks blog

Bio

 

Phil has worked in ELT for 15 years. His current teaching interests are Business English, speaking skills and Blended Learning. He is a qualified Coach and Mentor and does ELT Marketing work.

phil

Feedback on writing

Why is feedback important and how do you give feedback on writing? In this post you will find information about feedback, self- assessment and peer feedback, ideas on how to correct as well as a few suggestions on how to avoid burnout.

Feedback- some background information

“In teaching, feedback refers to comments or other information that learners receive concerning their success on learning tasks or tests, either from the teacher or other persons.” (Richards & Schmidt, 2010)

The objective of feedback is to help the learner improve his/her performance (Ur, 2004) and give appropriate praise + suggestions (Harmer, 2013). When we talk about feedback on writing we need to consider the difference between assessment and correction.

  • Assessment: the learner is informed about how s/he performed.
  • Correction: some specific information is provided on aspects of the learner’s performance (Ur, 2004).

Assessment is when we give a grade (A, B, C) and it can be quite subjective. You can have assessment without correction, but you cannot have correction without some sort of assessment.

What else do we need to consider when giving feedback on writing?

The first thing we need to consider, in my opinion, is whether this feedback is an intervention (something we do during the writing process) or if it is feedback on the final product. We also need to think about who our learner is and why the learner is writing. Also, will you be correcting a full text or a sample of the learner’s writing. If you will be correcting a sample, who decides on what to correct? The teacher? Or will the learner ask the teacher to correct something particular? Other things you should think about is the class size and how much time you have to correct a particular piece of writing.

                       Correction ideas

  1. Codes

  •  Error code:

Many teachers use an error code when checking students’ writing. You collect your students’ texts and instead of correcting the mistakes, you use symbols/abbreviations which correspond to language features, you use an error code. So, for example SP. stands for spelling and WW. stands for wrong word. You can make the error code yourself or use something you have found in a book.

error code

Instead of using abbreviations, you can use a highlighter pen. In this case, each colour corresponds to a type of error. This may be more suitable for children.

COLOURS

 Either way, you need to make sure that your students are familiar with the error code and know what each initial or abbreviation means. Try an error code terminology checker task. What is a terminology checker? Well, you write down the key abbreviations in bubbles and definitions under the bubbles, you then project them on the overhead projector or you use handouts. Your students then have to match the abbreviation with the definition or tell you what means what.

Picture1

One last thing you need to take into consideration is when to use an error code. Use it on mistakes the learners can correct. If you have a beginners class and you use the error code on, let’s say a verb that should have been in the passive voice, your learner will probably be unable to correct it, so you will only frustrate him/her or make him/her feel bad.

2. Comments

  • Comments in the margin+ end of text

When correcting your learner’s text it is a good idea to ask questions related to some of the information you find in the text, especially comments related to the content or lexis/grammar. Something may require more analysis, so you can make a comment bubble and ask, ”What do you mean?” or you may want to make a comment on something that you find interesting and say, ”Great idea!” or ”I totally agree”. Apart from comments in the margins you may want to make comments at the end of a text as well. Make sure the comments in the margins are connected to the comments at the end. Also, make sure that your students understand the connection. For example, if in the margin you say, “What do you mean by this?” and in your final comments (at the bottom of the page) you say, “You need to support your arguments more”, make sure that your learners understand that these two comments are connected.

  • Sandwich Feedback

Sandwich feedback is when you give a positive comment, then talk about something your learner did not do well or needs to work on, and then you write another positive comment.

You can also write feedback in a constructive way by using the

You did this……….

You didn’t do this…..

You need to do this……….  phrasing

  • Reformulation

Reformulation is when you rewrite the learner’s original text in a better way. Keep in mind that reformulation is a great way for the learners to see how they can produce a better text, just make sure that your “better version” is not beyond the learners’ abilities.

  • Online Feedback

If you are really tech savvy or if you want to be a bit more fancy, you can send your learners oral feedback or share a YouTube video. The sky is your limit fellow teacher. Online feedback suggestions:

  • Google docs
  • YouTube- screencasts (you can upload a video of you giving feedback on your learner’s work)
  • Vocaroo (website that allows you to record your feedback and email it to your learner)
  • Turnitin (plagiarism detector that also has sections for feedback)

Why use online feedback?

Your students probably like technology, and these websites have some really useful tools. Another benefit of using online feedback is that they get saved in the web so the dog cannot chew up your feedback!!

Why not?

It takes time to get used to and you or your students may not like technology.

3…………..

Write nothing. Instead of writing comments, have a tutorial with your learner. Have a short meeting where you discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the learner’s writing. Your learner will be able to ask questions and even open up to you about any difficulties regarding his/her writing.

          Individual vs. group feedback

Individual feedback is quite clear from its name. You comment on the individual’s writing.

Group feedback is when you give feedback on the whole group’s writing. You focus on common features of performance  and how these can be improved.

          Getting the learner involved

1. Self-Assessment/correction

  • Use a check list

Make a check list and ask your students to assess their work based on the items in this check list.

  • Journal writing

Your students can assess their performance in a writing journal. They  can reflect on what they have managed so far and write down anything that makes them worry. They can even use the sandwich feedback method to assess their texts.

4734a-2014-12-102b21-43-35

  • Error log

It is a good idea to get your learners to check the types of mistakes they make and see if there are errors that occur over and over again. If there are errors that recur:

1. Your learner will realise that he/she needs to address it.

2. You, the teacher, can include tasks, lessons that will help your learners with structures and language they are struggling with.

  • Rubrics/ assessment criteria

Instead of you marking your students’ work based on writing assessment criteria, why not get them to look at their work and assess it based on the writing assessment criteria? These type of activities are remarkable when working with advanced learners. It gets your students to reflect on their texts and see what needs work on. I have used criteria sheets in my exam classes and my EAP classes. I strongly recommend you try this with your learners. I would not recommend it for lower level students though because they may have language barrier issues. When you first introduce writing assessment criteria to your learners, it is a good idea to use a sample. Give them a text that has been assessed based on writing criteria but do not give them the final grades. Ask them to assess it and then show them the grades/highlighted criteria. Once they familiarise themselves with the process, they will be able to apply it to their own work.

2. Peer feedback

Peer feedback is another way to get the learners involved in assessment and correction. You can ask your learners to give peer feedback during the writing process or at the end. Your learners can give peer feedback by using:

  • criteria/rubrics
  • a specially designed form

Design a form and get your learners to check their classmates work based on what is on the form.

You can also make reading circles.  How does this work? Get your learners into groups of four and ask them to look at each other’s work and make comments, ask questions and use rubrics to assess their classmate’s writing. This way, each learner will get feedback from three people! Emphasise to your learners that they should only correct things they are sure their classmate has wrong. Your role here is  to monitor and offer suggestions when asked.

How do you know your learner understands your feedback?

We all give feedback and most of the times are probably happy with the work we have done. The question to ask though is, ” How do we know that our learners are learning from our feedback?” Well, you can do two things.

  1. Get feedback on your feedback.

Ask your learners what they think of the feedback you give them. Do they find it helpful? Is it enough? You could also make this feedback anonymous and get your students to tick boxes.

     2. Feedback Q & A

A while back I had written a post about feedback Q & A. What you do is after you correct your student’s writing, you make comments and then based on these comments you ask questions and give them tasks to practice any structures, grammar points etc. they used incorrectly. This takes a lot of time and cannot be done with big classes (unless it is group feedback) and on a daily basis. I do recommend trying it from time to time though.

                    Avoiding burnout

Feedback on writing requires a lot of time and effort and may lead to burnout. You can avoid burnout by:

  1. selective marking
  2. changing error codes
  3. involving the learners

(Harmer, 2013)

Coffeee

 

Feedback on writing is very important and integral to our learners’ progress. I hope you found this post helpful. Feel free to add any other ideas in the comments section below.

Till next time….

 

References

Harmer, J. (2013) The Practice of English Language Teaching. China: Pearson.

Richards, C. J. & Schmidt, R. (2010) Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics. Malaysia: Pearson.

Ur, P. (2004) A course in Language Teaching. Cambridge: CUP.

the wonderful world of feedback

The wonderful world of feedback and correcting: focusing on the writing skill.
I have been correcting and marking loads of essays these days and every time I find myself using different types of feedback, so that gave me the idea for this post. So, let’s have a look at different types of feedback and ways to correct.
Teacher’s feedback/correction
  • Error code:
Many teachers use an error code when checking students’ writing. You collect your students’ texts and instead of correcting the mistakes, you use symbols/abbreviations which correspond to language features, you use an error code. So, for example SP. stands for spelling and WW. stands for wrong word. You can make the error code yourself or use something you have found in a book. Either way, you need to make sure that your students are familiar with the error code and know what each initial or abbreviation means.
Error code with a twist: instead of using abbreviations, you can use a highlighter pen. In this case, each colour correspond to a type of error. This may be more suitable for children.

 

Teaching Tip: Are you sure that your learners know what each symbol means? You may have told them over and over again, but you will still get a student saying, ”I didn’t correct the essay cause I didn’t know what S/V stood for” . No need to worry. I have a suggestion for that! Why not try an error code terminology checker task? What is a terminology checker? Well, you write down the key abbreviations in bubbles and project them, your students then have to match the abbreviation with the definition or tell you what means what.
  • Correcting mistakes:
Well, this type of correction method has probably been used by most teachers. I guess you have corrected your students’ mistakes by drawing a line over the mistake and giving the correct sentence/version. I do this from time to time, but only when I think my learners do not have the knowledge to correct it themselves.
Teaching tip: Instead of just correcting their errors why not challenge your students a bit? Once you have corrected their mistakes, you could make little exercises/tasks which are connected to their errors just to help them practice with the structures/phenomena they are struggling with (I have written a post about feedback Q & A. Check it out here).
  • Comment bubbles/Dialogue with your student:
When correcting your learner’s text it is a good idea to ask questions related to some of the information you find in the text, especially comments related to the content. Something may require more analysis, so you can make a comment bubble and ask, ”What do you mean?” or you may want to make a comment on something that you find interesting and say, ”Great idea!” or ”I totally agree”. The comments you write are totally up to you. Once you hand back the texts, your learners can reply to the questions you ask and then you have a short dialogue.
 
  • Oral feedback:
If you are really tech savvy or if you want to be a bit more fancy, you can send your learners oral feedback or share a YouTube video. The sky is your limit fellow teacher. I have used vocaroo. You go to the website, record yourself speaking and then send your feedback to the learner. One of the benefits here is that the feedback is saved and cannot be lost or eaten by the dog!
                                         http://vocaroo.com/player.swf?playMediaID=s1j71mo4p0pf&autoplay=0
  • Ticking a checklist:
You can make a checklist and put ticks in the appropriate boxes depending on whether the student has fulfilled the requirements of the writing task or not. This type of feedback is more effective when the feedback has to do with development of ideas or specific structures/ language points. So, if for example, you have told your students to write a story, you can make a story genre features checklist and tick the features that are evident in your student’s story.
          The wording of the teacher’s feedback
Telling your student everything that has gone wrong in their writing may turn out to be a boomerang. Be constructive and positive. Put a smile on their faces : ). I prefer wording my feedback comments in the following two ways:
  • Sandwich feedback:
Sandwich feedback is when you give a positive comment, then talk about something your learner did not do well or needs to work on, and then you write another positive comment.
  • You did this/you didn’t do this/you need to:
Just like the sandwich feedback, in this case start with something positive. Then, mention what your learner didn’t do, and conclude with suggestions on the actions that need to be taken.
Student generated feedback/correction
  • Peer feedback:
Peer feedback is a good way to get everybody involved in the feedback/correction process. In this case, one student reads another student’s work and tries to offer feedback or make corrections. You can ask your students to use the error code, correct based on a checklist or  look for something in particular like checking for plagiarism for example. The good thing about this type of feedback is that students often respond well to corrections that come from a classmate. It also makes them more active in relation to the whole correction process.
Teaching tip: Have you ever used a reading circle during a peer feedback session? I often get my EAP students to sit in groups of four. I tell them to look at the introduction of their classmates’ essay, for example, and check to see if there is a thesis statement, a map, author’s voice etc. I also tell them to look for anything that is missing or is not easily understood. I set a time limit (let’s say five minutes) and when the time is up, they have to give the introduction to the next student in the group. This goes on for a few times. Then, each student gets their essay back, but now it has a lot of comments for them to work on. Of course, during a reading circle, you, the teacher, have to monitor and stick to the time limits you set, otherwise you will have some students with piles of paper next to them, and others with nothing to check.
  • Self- Correction: 
I often tell my students to take five or ten minutes at the beginning of a lesson, before they hand in their writing homework, to check their texts and try to see if they can find any mistakes. While they are checking, I monitor and offer any help when asked for it. It is very important to get students to read their texts before they hand them in because very often they give you the first draft of something without even checking it!
  • Using writing assessment criteria:
Instead of you marking your students’ work based on writing assessment criteria, why not get them to look at their work and assess it based on the writing assessment criteria? These type of activities are remarkable when working with advanced learners. It gets your students to reflect on their texts and see what needs work on. I have used criteria sheets in my exam classes and my EAP classes. I strongly recommend you try this with your learners. I would not recommend it for lower level students though because they may have language barrier issues.
Teaching Tip: When you first introduce writing assessment criteria to your learners, it is a good idea to use a sample. Give them a text that has been assessed based on writing criteria but do not give them the final grades. Ask them to assess it and then show them the grades/highlighted criteria. Once they familiarise themselves with the process, they will be able to apply it to their own work.
Screenshot of Ielts writing band descriptions taken from here:
Error/Feedback Log
It is a good idea to get your learners to check the types of mistakes they make and see if there are errors that occur over and over again. If there are errors that reoccur:
1.Your learner will realise that he/she needs to address it.
2. You, the teacher, can include tasks, lessons that will help your learners with structures and language they are struggling with.There are many ways to check your students’ writing. I like to mix and match depending on the learners. I do think though that it is essential to get students to be more active regarding the correcting of their texts.

You can download everything here:

Example of an error code
http://viewer.docstoc.com/

* In this document (colour code section) the computer automatically corrected my spelling mistake so it says your instead of yor (which was the spelling mistake).

var docstoc_docid=’172347092′; var docstoc_title=’Example of an error code’; var docstoc_urltitle=’Example of an error code’;Feel free to leave a comment in the comments section.

Till next time………

Writing Feedback Idea

What does your essay feedback look like?

I was correcting my student’s essay the other day and started writing my feedback for her essay, and then I thought to myself, “Will she read all this? Will she benefit from it?” So, I racked my brain a bit and then came up with a brilliant idea! Feedback Q & A for my student. Have I grabbed your attention yet, fellow teacher? Great! Now, read on. So, let’s take things from the beginning.

Background information
The learner: My student is a C2 level learner who has been learning English for approximately 7 years now. She will be sitting for C2 level certificate exams at the end of the year. She is a studious learner. She had to write an essay about the advantages and disadvantages of using the internet.
The teacher’s feedback track record: Although my feedback style varies, often when I comment on my students’ essays I : 
  • Circle/mark/correct things on the essay.
  • Follow up with feedback comments where I rewrite/ correct some of the mistakes/ give grammar comments/talk about organisation-content and so on.
  • I follow the sandwich method (strength-weakness-strength OR you did this-you didn’t do this-you need to do this).
  • I use the learner’s L1 when my student is a bit weak and when I see L1/L2 transfer errors.
  • I do not comment about every single mistake in the essay.
  • I try to make my feedback page one page long (A4).
  • I do not squash everything up. I like space!
  • I use bullet points not numbers.
  • I use smiley faces : ) and sad faces : ( (sometimes there are even tears!).
  • My comments are handwritten. The good old-fashioned way.
  • I never use a red pen!
Why do I do this?
 Well, I have been correcting essays like this for many many years so, it is only natural for me to write my feedback page! I feel like I haven’t corrected an essay if I do not state their mistakes/ strengths clearly or if I do not make suggestions on what they could have written.
  
My students’ opinion of my (lengthy) feedback:
Some learners read it and like it. They learn from their mistakes. I often tell them to go over the feedback from all the essays they have written to check if any of their mistakes reoccur. Others don’t bother reading it. They just take their notebook and chuck it in their bag. The latter for me, as a teacher, is demotivating. I then think of all the students who do read and do learn from my comments, so I keep writing my feedback comments page.

What did I do differently this time?

Feedback Q & A?

As I said earlier,I get discouraged when my students do not bother to read what I have written and I also want to check to see if they have learnt something from what I wrote. I also want to see if they can reflect on what they have written. So, I thought, ” Hey! What if I ask them questions about the feedback? Something like a feedback questionnaire? ” and I did. I made a feedback quiz/drill/reflection page!See picture.OK, so it ain’t the best thing you have ever seen but it is a start and I do think it will benefit my learners.

What did my learner think?

She said that she liked the idea (implication: would she have told me if she didn’t? Hopefully, yes). My questions were focused on the mistakes she had made in her writing task. She also had an opportunity to amend some of her errors. She got extra practice on some of the things she got wrong in her essay. I asked her a question about the strengths of her essay. She found pinpointing them quite hard. I was expecting the latter because upon reflect, I do not know about you guys, but whilst I write down the positive points of my students’ essays, I do not often ask them to tell me what they think is good about their essay.

Why should a teacher try this?
Well, if nothing else, you ensure that your learner actually looks at the written feedback you have given him. They notice their mistakes! Your learner, depending on the questions/tasks you put on this Q&A form will get a chance to correct any mistakes/ make new sentences with the language he got wrong and so on. It is also a great opportunity for him to reflect not only on his strengths but also the weaknesses.
BUT…. and there is always a but….
this is VERY time consuming for you and the class. I would not make a little feedback Q&A page for every single piece of writing my students give me but I would do it from time to time because it does help my learners. I think I would be more eclectic as to when I make these feedback Q&A pages and branch them out to different genres so that my learners can look closely at different types of texts.

You can do this with any writing class and with all learners, so try it out. Will your students’ writing be impeccable? Maybe not. Improved? Yeap!

Downloadable writing feedback Q & A idea. Step by step

Feedback Q.docx
http://viewer.docstoc.com/ var docstoc_docid=”171634780″;var docstoc_title=”Feedback Q.docx”;var docstoc_urltitle=”Feedback Q.docx”;

I really enjoyed this blog post. I hope you did too. Feel free to comment below. I am interested in seeing if you do this in your writing classes and how effective you think it is.
  A few days later… note to the reader… This post was shortlisted for this month’s (June) Teaching English blog post award, so if you like it, go to the Teaching English via the British Council Facebook page, scroll down to where it says this blog post has been shortlisted and press ‘like’. Either way, thanks so much for reading : ) and thanks to the Teaching English Facebook page for shortlisting this post : D
Till next time…..