Busy June 1: exam marking

June was busy with exam marking, more exam marking, website design, being ill (again), prop making and course design.

1) Exam marking. I can’t really comment on this in detail, but it has certainly given me food for thought. I always write down the funniest responses from students – generally things that are amusing because of a misspelling or double entendre that clearly wasn’t intended, or things that are downright silly (and no, I can’t show you…oh, ok then, here’s my favourite: ‘The author uses language as an element of the text’. Genius. Sorry, that’s all you’re getting.) However, really the issue that comes out of it is how many students clearly don’t actually read any more, and this is plain obvious from the amount of simple phonetic misspellings that you come across as an examiner. Obviously, at some point in the student’s school career a teacher will have marked these wrong and offered a correction to be learned, but students never really pay attention to marked work unless they’re actually the conscientious sort – or their teacher is and plans time in lesson for competent reflection on marking – and you tend to find that…and here I’m going to make a pretty sweeping generalisation but it doesn’t stop it being true…the conscientious ones are the ones who read. Let me put it this way: the better the work, the fewer the spellings. It also translates as: the more study of the subject matter done, ie: reading, the better the level of response due to understanding and proficiency.

So, of course, I’ve started another new blog. This one I can’t believe I didn’t start aaaaaaages ago, as it’s a pretty simple concept: writing tips. You can find it here: http://bbfenglishtips.wordpress.com/

Content: I’ve given some thought to making this as student-friendly as possible, and come up with subtitles and snippets. The title highlights the problem or error, then a QUICK FIX is offered to sort it out, often using a mnemonic or rhyme to learn. To aid memory and pique interest, then a LONGER REASON is given – students remember better if they are given a reason for something. Then, if necessary, a NOTE is offered to explain any inconsistencies in the rules (as there normally are in English!). I’ve also done a selection of posts on the most misspelled words and ‘why you’re getting them wrong’: reasons so far include ‘phonetics’, guesswork’, and ‘watching ‘Neighbours’.

Design: I use bold and colours to separate worded sections, keeping this consistent as possible as many students (including myself) simply find a use of colour makes information easier to take in. The background and header are consistent with the Blackboard Fiction website, to continue a kind of ‘brand’ identity (Oh Lordy, I’m a Brand).  I’m also  trying to include pictures to liven it up a bit too, including memes, because they’re a hell of a lot of fun and mostly pretty intelligent.

Its already started to go down pretty well, and I’ve had a few teachers contact me asking for specific topics to be covered so they can set it as homework for their students (if that doesn’t force me to be consistent in posting, nothing will!) which is very encouraging, as it’s well known that while teachers telling students that they’re wrong and offering them a correction isn’t at all as interesting as them being set ‘look at a website’ for homework 😉 Yay Independent Learning !


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