Monday, 4 May 2009

"The Darling Buds of May"

We have now come to my favorite month of the year, May. Spring has come quite early to the Oslo-region this year, and already the grass and the trees outside my window are green. I have just spent three days at our cabin in Østfold and had a real taste of summer; children walking barefoot in the grass (even if their mother told them repeatedly to put some shoes on!), boats on the sea and birds singing in the trees around. It all tells me that my much longed for summer vacation will come this year, too. At the moment, however, "rough winds do shake the darling buds of May", and I barely have my head above water. How come there are always so many loose ends that need to be tied at the end of the school year? Why could I not for once have made plans that did not leave me with piles of papers to correct at the most beautiful time of the year?

Nevertheless, the next few weeks will be quite interesting, too. This Saturday, my colleague Anne and I are going to the Netherlands with 21 of our students. We will spend one week at Grotius College in Delft; all our students will be staying with Dutch students, and we will stay with Dutch teachers. Although it will not be a vacation, I am really looking forward to going there, and I believe this is a great chance to get to know my own students even better and in a different way.

Shortly after we return from the Netherlands, I will go to Kristiansand, Førde and Ålesund to participate at three workshops on evaluation and assessment. The plan is for me to share some of my experiences in that area, and hopefully planning the presentation can also make me see what I need to change. I one day hope to find a magical formula which can really help me when it comes to correcting papers; at the moment I feel that I just spend too much time showing the students what kind of mistakes they make, without really knowing how much they actually learn from my comments. Know the feeling?

Photo: "Through the glass"

1 comment:

  1. I know the feeling indeed. In my experience, whether corrections and comments "help" depends mostly on the student. Some students actually take note of my red or green scribbles, endeavour to learn from them and do better next time (these are often the fairly good students anyway, probably an indication to why they are good students in the first place), while most only have a fleeting look at corrections and then only remember what mark they got.
    One reason for this is of course that corrections necessarily will refer to grammar and rules and conventions - and when many students have only a very vague understanding of what e.g. a verb or a noun is, corrections will make little sense. Communicative language teaching methodologies have been predominant in Norwegian schools for a decade or two, and I have a lot of time for them, but it seems to me that they have resulted in an almost exclusive focus on language as meaning, at the expense of language as a system. I think I have heard that grammar/language system teaching is on its way back into the curriculums, but it will still take at least a decade before this hits us in tertiary education. In the meantime, I deal with 22-year olds who don't know what a noun is, much less a subject, and then explaining concord becomes tricky.