Improving my teaching of writing skills (Part two)

This post follows on from my previous blog about how I am trying to improve the writing skills of my Year 7 students (11-12 year old) in a foreign language in test conditions. Like most teachers, I am not a great fan of spending hours marking barely legible work. Thankfully, there are a number of websites which can help with this. This leaves me with more time to analyse the weaknesses and strengths of students’ writing skills. Obviously, once students have produced written work in test conditions there will be a number of mistakes which one would like to reduce.  Personally, I am not a teacher looking for perfect writing because if we try that then we risk losing creativity. As far as I am concerned, the message should be communicated well with a few errors here and there. To achieve this I mainly use three different websites which are Memrise, Conjuguemos and Socrative. Together they allow me to create exercises which improve the accuracy of students’writing.

 

I use Memrise to improve the spelling of keywords especially those which include accents and apostrophes. Also, Memrise helps students build a more varied and interesting level of vocabulary. It also aids students to remember the little words such as “some” “the” “at” etc. In my experience students use the word “le” (the) very liberally. They need to understand its meaning and think carefully about each word they write.

 

Conjuguemos is a website which looks at a bit dated now. However, it allows me to personalise the work so that students are more likely to engage with the text. For example, I often use the names of students in class in exercises which helps with motivation and concentration. The site will mark the work for me and I can export the work into a different format too.(Excel)

 

Socrative is quite similar to Conjuguemos but it has a more modern interface and I can download the results in a larger variety of formats. Also, students do not require complicated login details which save a lot of time and hassle in the ICT suite. Like Conjuguemos, I can personalise the activities which makes the learning more fun and relevant to the students.


I do hope you have time to look at the different Year 7 learning activities which are on the above Slideshare. I do give a brief explanation about why I have created such learning opportunities. Please bear in mind that most of the questions/activities are based on work produced by students which require improvement. Using these sites mean I never have to set homework during the lesson. I generally have a quick flick through a variety of exercise books after the lesson and make learning activities based on the students’ written work, their questions/answers during the lesson and generally how I felt the learning has evolved over the past few lessons.

 

Finally, online learning offers a great range of differentiation opportunities which are quick to create. This is very necessary if I want a good rate of completion.

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