The ITDI Blog’s focus on error correction couldn’t have come at a better time (though it seems to me that any time is a good time to talk about this ongoing issue) as it is very much on my mind at the moment.
This round of debating how to correct errors began with an “AHA” moment when reading the post “What’s it all about…” on the excellent Macappella Blog. There’s a really practical suggestion for using word clouds to review language.
Word clouds are very cool.
However, we use technology to teach, not the other way round and the ways in which I tried to use those clouds weren’t really contributing to the learning process. But Fiona’s suggestion offers the best of both worlds!
So, off I went!
I clouded the text my student-teacher has just taught about Gallaudet University, the university for the Deaf in Washington DC. I asked the students to create sentences using words from the cloud as homework. I did not set any limits beyond the fact that there must be at least one word from the cloud in every sentence.
Certainly reviewing language!
So, now that the sentences are beginning to appear in my inbox, we get to error correction.
Here are the sentences that one student sent (11th grade!)
- I am not know to speak English.
- My room mess.
- Have many students in the school.
- I am deaf, and my parents also deaf.
- USA biggest country.
- I hard communicate with my friends`s class.
- I am 16 old year.
- No everyone can study in Gallaudet university.
The vocabulary in these sentences was placed in correct contexts but the grammar is incorrect.
On the one hand I achieved my goal, the students had to think about those vocabulary items and generate sentences. The fact that the context is right means the items were understood. However, none of these sentences are correct.
Now I’m debating to what extent to correct or ignore these errors, as well as in what manner to correct the errors. There will be no frontal lesson to review grammar rules (long story) so the feedback will have to be made individually, either by email or in class.
In a past discussion regarding the topic over at Cecilia Lemos’s blog “Box of Chocolates” (Yes! She is the same one from the itdi blog) Cecilia and Tyson Seburnt suggested a technique that would be just the thing if I were teaching in a “normal” class situation. They suggested taking sentences from different students’ tasks and placing them on one page and having students help each other correct the sentences (with assistance as needed). However, I have not been able to adapt this for dealing with errors on homework tasks. The pupil whose sentences appear above, for example, doesn’t have classes with students at the same level!