Thursday, 26 February 2009

Building paragraphs

I have just corrected another pile of papers written by my students. The topic of these papers was the film Whale Rider and the culture of indigenous people. Many of the students said that they found the essay questions a bit harder than usual this time (but that is just natural, is it not, knowing that the exam is just three months away), but I still feel that many had managed to come up with fairly good answers anyway. What I usually do when the students write at school, is that they write for a certain amount of time, they hand in their papers and I correct them. Then it is time for feedback and for the students to read my comments and correct their own mistaks. This time we decided to do it a bit differently, however. The week after they had written the papers, they were all given some time to go back to their texts and work on the language. We even allowed them to work in pairs and to give each other feedback on what they had written. When correcting the papers I could clearly see who had taken this seriously and who had not. In many of the papers there were almost no spelling mistakes, and there were also fewer grammar mistakes than usual. This made my job a whole lot easier.

Even though the language part seemed to be better, many of my students still have problems structuring their papers. There is often no logical order in how the various points are presented, and sometimes the paragraphs are so poorly structured it totally ruins the message of the paper. My number one task this week was therefore to put focus on paragraph building and text structure. I first gave them a presentation in which I told them some of the basic rules when it comes to writing papers. In this presentation I have also included some small exercises to keep the students busy. They were then to work individually on various exercises and activities I have found on the web page of Exploring English. The students all worked quite well on these exercises. Hopefully it will pay off when their writing their term papers next month, too.


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