Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Writing--how to help them understand (NOT TPRS)

Just a warning--I'm a TPRS teacher, yes, and I do believe in the system.  However, when I started using a rubric for writing, the first few years were really really hard.  Finally, I realized that the students really didn't know how to correct their papers.  So I did two things--I started using examples to show what papers on the rubric looked like, and I made a list of common errors, numbered them, and put them on the students' work to help them.

First of all--the rubric.  It is based on the AP rubric and is used in all classes--1-4AP.  The rubric stays the same, but obviously the expectations change from level to level.  In level 2, the students hope for a 4, 5, or 6.  A 4 is a paper that is beginning to show elementary understanding of the language.  A 5 shows good use of basic language, and a six shows excellent use of basic language.

I have the students write a paper (usually a retell of the story we just did orally or read) and then I grade it using the rubric.  I go through it and mark the words that are wrong so that they can make corrections.  I do this using a list of the most common errors.  For example, if a student writes Las chica quiere va a la playa, I will correct it by underlining chica and putting a 2 over las, putting a 5 (imp) over quiere, and putting a 3 over va.  This tells them what was wrong.
The list is as follows:
1:  wrong person (tú va--should be vas)
2:  problem with noun and its modifier (I know that there's more than that, but I say that for simplicity) el chica, etc.)
3.  problem with infinitive: ( quiere habla--should be hablar. ) (sometimes they use nothing but infinitives, especially if they've transferred from a grammar-based program, and I'll do this:  hablar:  3 pret (should be habló)
4.  problem with DO, IO, or reflexive: (se habla--should be le habla)
5.  problem with tense: I put what tense it should be, at least at the start.

Obviously, I don't give the students the hints in parenthesis--I just wanted to show you.

Yes, this is output.  Yes, it takes time.  But I do it because the school assesses based in part on the students' writing.  If we are assessing something that is output based, then I want to see the students be as successful as possible.  I don't really see much of a correlation between their acquisition and their writing.  I know the one probably drastically affects the other, but I am doing this because if I am going to grade writing and they are going to be responsible for corrections (something that is done department-wide), I don't think it's fair for them not to have an idea of how to succeed.

Now I do want you to understand that I don't begin this at the beginning of the year.  They do write all year long, but most of the time, all I'm doing is asking them to put thoughts on paper.  It's only during the 3rd and 4th quarter that I start grading according to the rubric.

I know it's been a while since I've given you a story, and thanks for bearing with me (I mean one that I actually used for class).  I plan to start that again next week when I have my whole class together every day instead of 1/3 gone one day, and so on.

Hope you are having a great week!

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