Skip to main content

What's better: work done in books or blogs?

For a couple of years I experimented with having a proportion of written homework done using student blogs. Y10-11 classes would write a composition piece about once every two weeks. I taught them how to set up a Blooger blog, encouraged them to personalise it and to read the blogs of other students. I would always read and comment on every homework done in this way.

Overall students seemed happy to do work in this way and I really should have got some empirical feedback, but I didn't.

On reflection there were a few disadvantages in having students work in this way.

Firstly, I always had the impression that typed work in a blog was less carefully done than it would have been in their exercise books. I am not certain why this was the case. Maybe there were simple typos. Maybe the blog format encouraged fluid writing at the expense of accuracy. Maybe typing encouraged some subtle use of copy-paste/ Google Translate (I never was aware of this at the time). Word-processing does allow for easier redrafting and editing, but may produce more inaccuracy.

Secondly, marking blogged work was less than perfect. I would write a grade and pick out a few corrections to comment on, but obviously could not deal adequately with minor error where I would have liked to. I also tended to be more generous with comments because blogs were public. Sometimes you need to be critical and direct to get the best work in future. (The Craig Revel-Horwood approach!)

Thirdly, with typed work it is harder to tell how hard a pupil tries. Neatness of handwriting is a big indicator of time and care taken. Generally, as I mentioned, blogged work came across as less careful.

Lastly, and this is a minor point, it was a bit harder to keep track of the punctuality of student work. When exercise books were handed in in lesson time students were very reluctant to meet with my disapproval if a book was not there. With blogs, on the other hand, delayed, online disapproval meant students were a little more likely to fail to meet deadlines.

On the positive side, a few students excelled even more using blogs and did take advantage of the presentational opportunities. Students did read other blogs, though less than I had hoped for. Students also got used to blogging in general.

To answer the question posed in the title of this post, I would suggest that hand-written work has the edge over the blog. I would even argue that hand-written still just about trumps word-processing.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A zero preparation fluency game

I am grateful to Kayleigh Meyrick, a teacher in Sheffield, for this game which she described in the Languages Today magazine (January, 2018). She called it “Swap It/Add It” and it’s dead simple! I’ve added my own little twist as well as a justification for the activity.

You could use this at almost any level, even advanced level where the language could get a good deal more sophisticated.

Put students into small groups or pairs. If in groups you can have them stand in circles to add a sense of occasion. One student utters a sentence, e.g. “J’aime jouer au foot avec mes copains parce que c’est amusant.” (You could provide the starter sentence or let groups make up their own.) The next student (or partner) has to change one element in the sentence, and so on, until you restart with a different sentence. You could give a time limit of, say, 2 minutes. The sentence could easily relate to the topic you are working on. At advanced level a suitable sentence starter might be:

“Selon un article q…

Google Translate beaters

Google Translate is a really useful tool, but some teachers say that they have stopped setting written work to be done at home because students are cheating by using it. On a number of occasions I have seen teachers asking what tasks can be set which make the use of Google Translate hard or impossible. Having given this some thought I have come up with one possible Google Translate-beating task type. It's a two way gapped translation exercise where students have to complete gaps in two parallel texts, one in French, one in English. There are no complete sentences which can be copied and pasted into Google.

This is what one looks like. Remember to hand out both texts at the same time.


English 

_____. My name is David. _ __ 15 years old and I live in Ripon, a _____ ____ in the north of _______, near York. I have two _______ and one brother. My brother __ ______ David and my _______ are called Erika and Claire. We live in a _____ house in the centre of ____. In ___ house _____ …

Preparing for GCSE speaking: building a repertoire

As your Y11 classes start their final year of GCSE, one potential danger of moving from Controlled Assessment to terminal assessment of speaking is to believe that in this new regime there will be little place for the rote learning or memorisation of language. While it is true that the amount of learning by heart is likely to go down and that greater use of unrehearsed (spontaneous) should be encouraged, there are undoubtedly some good techniques to help your pupils perform well on the day.

I clearly recall, when I marked speaking tests for AQA 15-20 years ago, that schools whose candidates performed the best were often those who had prepared their students with ready-made short paragraphs of language. Candidates who didn't sound particularly like "natural linguists" (e.g. displaying poor accents) nevertheless got high marks. As far as an examiner is concerned is doesn't matter if every single candidate says that last weekend they went to the cinema, saw a James Bond…

Worried about the new GCSEs?

Twitter and MFL Facebook groups are replete with posts expressing concerns about the new GCSEs and, in particular, the difficulty of the exam, grades and tiers. I can only comment from a distance since I am no longer in the classroom, but I have been through a number of sea changes in assessment over the years so may have something useful to say.

Firstly, as far as general difficulty of papers is concerned, I think it’s fair to say that the new assessment is harder (not necessarily in terms of grades though). This is particularly evident in the writing tasks and speaking test. Although it will still be possible to work in some memorised material in these parts of the exam, there is no doubt that weaker candidates will have more problems coping with the greater requirement for unrehearsed language. Past experience working with average to very able students tells me some, even those with reasonable attainment, will flounder on the written questions in the heat of the moment. Others will…

Dissecting a lesson: using a set of PowerPoint slides

I was prompted to write this just having produced for frenchteacher.net three separate PowerPoint presentations using the same set of 20 pictures (sports). A very good way for you to save time is to reuse the same resource in a number of different ways.

I chose 20 clear, simple, clear and copyright-free images from pixabay.com to produce three presentations on present tense (beginners), near future (post beginner) and perfect tense (post-beginner/low intermediate). Here is one of them:





Below is how I would have taught using this presentation - it won't be everyone's cup of tea, especially of you are not big on choral repetition and PPP (Presentation-Practice-Production), but I'll justify my choice in the plan at each stage. For some readers this will be standard practice.

1. Explain in English that you are going to teach the class how to talk about and understand people talking about sport. By the end of the lesson they will be able to say and understand 20 different sport…