Sunday, 17 February 2013

Drowning in essays!

Finally! My 300th essay was graded! I should be experiencing some sort of euphoria but relieved is the more apt word to describe my feelings at present. It was OVERWHELMING. Sorry (5 Shafie and 5 Bukhari) for the delay. I've been pressed for time lately, what with the non-stop meetings we've been having in school. We had meetings almost every week before the CNY break, I wonder if anything sinks...teacher look tired and forlorn and the one-way traffic in meetings is no help either. How much can one listen to anyway?

Grading students' work (on time) is my weakest point I know. When you have 300 essays it's no joke. (Siapa suruh bagi banyak homework? Ha ha!) Well, I've been carrying these essays in my bag back and forth between school and home for weeks and I'm just glad they're finally done! Hooray! How do you deal with grading students essays by the way? Do you mark every single detail? Do you correct every single error until it is bloody? I basically look at how much time I have and how many essays. 

Some of the things I've been doing are to:
  • focus on one aspect of the language for example tense. At another time I would be looking at development of ideas (ability to expand and elaborate) or you can devote the bulk of your grading to a combination of some language elements. From experience, you can't possibly look at all the errors. Just mark the glaring ones.
  • give positive feedback (margin comments, inline comments and summary at the end) to students work whenever you can because this takes a lot of time too and you wonder if the students read them at all :)
  •  use rubrics as in the SPM rubric
  •  write "See me' notes for those students who didn't do so well. Calling them individually and showing their errors are useful and motivating.

Some teachers believe in giving a lot of practice without necessarily grading every single paper. They believe that learning a language requires a lot of practice hence a lot of writing in this case. Learning a language is not the same as learning Mathematics for instance. It takes years to develop the skills. Yes I subscribe to giving lots of practice on writing although the burden of grading is enormous. It's a question of balance really- with other language skills and the literature component that we need to deal with. To a certain degree we language teachers must be resigned to spending a lot of time grading essays because essay grading is something that you can pare down only so much. Do you agree?

The Thinking Teacher

Monday, 11 February 2013

A Treasure Trove!

Found these while rummaging the storeroom! These books are hard to come by now and they are still useful. to teach English. What a discovery!

The Thinking Teacher

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Teacher Talk (29): Stuck in between

Salam Puan,
it's me again! I hope I'm not bothering you with my questions.I want to do fun activities and fun topics with my students but I am deprived of freedom as I am told that the exams/tests will be based on the content of the textbook. I agree that textbooks have a lot of useful content, they can be fun to use too, but I think there are other topics that are more interesting that can motivate students better.I am stuck in between and in the end, I am the one who becomes demotivated when I see students can not enjoy learning.


Dear xxx
I think you need not worry too much about which materials you use so long as the materials can help improve your students' proficiency. Why not use both? Textbook and other materials form the internet for example? Whichever materials you choose must ultimately help them improve their English. Yes, I believe English lessons have to be fun but FUN must = LEARNING. Sometimes we are misled by the word "fun". Yes, there's a lot of laughter and giggles but have we achieved our objectives? We go all out to make the class fun but whether learning takes place is questionable. I think whatever you do, make it accessible to the learners. Do something that gives them a sense of achievement. One thing I know for sure is as English teachers we do not give up easily. We find ways and means to help our students. Here's a link to a free grammar book by Betty Azar. There are some fun grammar activities that I think you can try in the classroom. Happy teaching!

Click on image

The Thinking Teacher