In my last post I wrote about how students were writing more in the classroom using blogs and the learning management system (LMS) Schoology. By using the add discussion option within Schoology, I created a space for students to write and reflect on what they, and others, had written.
In this blog I would like to share how I have started showing students how to spot and highlight their peers mistakes and how I have adapted this to work on an LMS like Schoology.
Before asking students to look for mistakes in their partners work, they really need to know that they are not there to correct the mistakes, but simply to highlight the errors.
The first task was to have a lesson where students were given some writing with different kinds of spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes, which can be found in many coursebooks such as Headway or New English File from pre-intermediate levels upwards. Before touching the computers, students had to underline any errors and show what type of error it was by using a key, e.g. Spelling mistake = Sp “I’m enjoing the party.”
Using the computers for error correction is a little harder. You’re not able to underline, highlight, or circle errors, so I had to think of a way that students could work around this.
I set up a discussion called ‘Correcting mistakes’ and, after adapting examples from the same coursebook, showed students how it should look using this new system:
Sp = Spelling – e.g. I’m <enjoing><Sp> the party.
WW = wrong word – e.g. They went <in><WW> Italy on holiday.
WO = word order – e.g. I have <two brothers younger.><WO>
Gr = grammar – e.g. She’s got some new <reds><Gr> shoes.
T = tense – e.g. He <arrive><T> yesterday.
P = Punctuation – e.g. They <arent><P> coming.
^ = word missing – e.g. She’s <^> doctor.
From here I set the task for students to highlight the mistakes in six sentences, making it clear they should not correct them.
One great thing about the add discussion resource is that you can set it up so members have to post before revealing other peoples responses. By doing this I was able to type in the correct answers, so that when students had finished they could compare their answers.
Since doing this with my class, students are used to highlighting their peers mistakes. At the start of any writing class on the computers I will first get them to work in pairs and use the key to correct writing from the previous lesson. They seem to enjoy spotting mistakes and appreciate their classmates input. Once they have finished highlighting mistakes they will then have to correct their own work.
This type of activity has saved me a lot of time as a teacher. Students all expect a certain amount of individual focus, but in a large class it is impossible to devote this time by correcting every piece of writing they do. Another thing is that it has also made my classroom much more learner focused. I have made it a permanent, twice a week, fixture with the class and would definitely recommend that any teacher give this a go, whether using Schoology or another LMS.