Category Archives: EduTech

Peer error correction using Schoology

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.

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Blogging and English Language Learners

Writing is something that I feel gets neglected a lot in the ESL classroom. Motivating students to write more is a struggle, but it is a necessary component for learning and mastering a language where students can improve their skills.

I have used discussions in Schoology for some time. They are so simple to set up and they are a fantastic way of encouraging students to participate in writing activities.

schoology_discussions

Discussions are a folder option in the virtual learning environment Schoology which can be used just like a Facebook wall. Students can write as much as they want to, and the teacher, or other students, can reply.

In the discussions I post a question to which students respond to, often around a subject we have discussed in class. Since they have already had the discussion, following on with writing helps students to repeat the information, and use the vocabulary, which would otherwise be forgotten.

Recently I found that these discussions can be assigned individually, which gave me  the idea of assigning students with their own discussion wall and calling it their “blog”, where only the assigned student and myself can see what has been written.

I am really pleased with how well the blogs have worked so far. Students are motivated to write on their blogs and many do so several times a week, using it as a diary for their learning. It has really encouraged students to learn more independently, as they have taken ownership of their blogs.

The blogs have made it easier for me to spot common errors amongst my students. I am able to reply to their writing, just as you would reply to a comment on Facebook, point out errors in their work, and paste direct links to websites where they can practise improving their English. Students will later reply with their errors corrected.

For this class I decided to make it so that only myself and the assigned student are able to see the blog. My reasoning behind this was that I had one student who seemed very shy about their writing because it was of a lower level than his peers. I thought by not allowing others to see his mistakes, it would encourage him to write more. With my future students I want to try more peer error correction, perhaps assigning students into groups, where they will write on their own blogs and correct their group’s work.

I would recommend that all teachers of English should consider student blogging. I use Schoology, but there are many different ways of doing them on-line.

I shall definitely be making blogging a permanent fixture with my classes.

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Filed under EduTech, ESL, Teaching English, Tech