Glaring, serious, minor, common, grammatical, spelling, typing errors. Who doesn’t make them?
I must admit that I don’t dedicate as much time in class to honing my students’ writing skills as I should. Even if it is only for 30 or 35 minutes, assigning my pupils a writing assignment in class tends to disrupt the lesson’s flow. So, my students probably don’t write enough, but this is about to change. Well, in fact, I have already taken steps to make it happen.
But more important than making them write is the instructions I should be giving them to help them get better at this skill, and that includes many things, from using the newly acquired vocabulary and structures in a sort of guided writing to making them reflect on their errors. And it is this last part, making students aware of their errors, that has prompted me to write this post.
The truth is that it is not the first time I have tried some strategies to make my students reflect on their written errors (you can read all about it here) but after reading a brilliant post by Gianfranco Conti and inspired by his own error awareness chart, I have decided to try something similar and see how it works.
Below, you can see the chart I have designed. I am sharing with you two links.
Error Awareness Chart by cristina.cabal
So, what’s the idea?
- First, the usual stuff: you give your students a written assignment, they hand it in, you spend an awful lot of time correcting their mistakes, and then, hand it back to them. So far, so good.
- Now, together with their marked written work, give them a copy of the chart below and explain how, hopefully, the chart is going to help them improve their writing skills.
- The first time, you will need to go through the list of errors on the left. Make sure they understand what each error refers to. Tell them the numbers 1-9 in this chart correspond to the different essays they will be handing in throughout the year.
- So, say it is Essay 1. Students will have a look at their mistakes and put a tick in the boxes where they have made a mistake.
For example, they should tick the box Subject-Verb Agreement if one of their errors is People makes difficult decisions
And the box if they write something like: He went at home
This same procedure is repeated every time you hand back a marked written assignment. This strategy does not guarantee immediate success. That would be wishful thinking. Success at writing is something students must work on. And hard.