Thursday 19 September 2013

I Love Homework


"Really?" you are thinking ... "I love homework. You've got to be mad."
Well guess what I'm not, my Nova students love their homework.

Here we only have one homework activity, okay we'll make it two. 1) Write a journal entry about your day and 2) Enjoy Cairns and what it has to offer.

Yesterday, after the lessons our Nova staff member M2 told me that the students couldn't wait to share their journals again tomorrow and check their grammar. My jaw nearly hit the floor. Then this afternoon I heard it from the horses' mouths so to speak, they love doing their journals. So I decided I would share what we do, not that it is all that exciting really.

Each afternoon, before the end of the lessons, the students are given a Journal sheet to complete.
That night or the next morning they write about what they have learnt, done, seen, like and dislike. It is up to them. They then return it the next morning and it is corrected and comments are written. It is photocopied for the office and then returned. Well that is the basics.

So here is what I was given today. Three journal entries all of different levels and all expressing what they did and what they enjoyed. The students have been instructed that they can write as much as they want; 1 sentence, 3 lines, a whole page or more. They did panic the first time it is given. They looked at the space and you could see them thinking that is soo much writing, then here we are four days in and the space is no problem. You can also see them thinking this is too hard. By their reminders at the end of the lesson about handing out the sheet that is no problem either.

At the bottom of the sheet is a nice blank section just for me to write comments, reminders and encouragement. I mostly stick to the positive letting the corrections do the improvement part for me.

The first thing the students do is read their journal to everyone, that is after we have done our 'how are you?', 'what did you do yesterday afternoon?', what did you have for dinner?' chat thing. This means they all get to listen to each other and practise reading. This week I have made an effort to get the journal corrected, commented on and returned by after lunch time. I have been writing a short note to myself during the day before's lessons to remind me of something great the student has done during the lesson so I can include it in my comments. This is so much easier than trying to remember.  

When I make corrections I put ticks where things are written well or sound great. If a sentence is really muddled I will rewrite it because often they cannot find the words to correct it especially at lower levels. I verbally say i could understand what they were trying to say but it didn't make sense. During the lessons I make spelling mistakes and corrections and they are secure in the knowledge that they can do this too. As some journals say "I feel comfortable" and that is the most important thing to me because when students are comfortable they find it easier to converse, to share their thoughts and to ask questions.


 After lunch I write a few sentences based on ones from the journals, with the same mistakes, and get the students to tell me how to fix them. The most common mistake is missing those vital small words.

Now in reward for reading through all that here are some photos from work this afternoon. I think those people out on the water have the right idea today.

Did you like homework?
How do you think I could improve this homework routine?

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  1. This looks like a great thing to do. I don't mind homework if it has a purpose. I cannot stand when students are just given busy work (nothing to learn from it or no purpose) for the sake of giving homework.

  2. You should be so proud of the job you are doing. They all sound so happy with what they are doing and learning.

  3. Hi Jacana, I agree homework needs purpose. It needs to involve learning or revising not just be random. It also needs to be fun or interesting as people are tired after a day of learning. I think the students love the feedback from it the most.

  4. Hi Alicia, Thank you for your positive, heart warming comments. Sometimes I wonder and then I get a response like this from these students and it is like "I am doing good!" They are happy, I am happy.

  5. You are doing such a great job Anne and your students can write so well for people that are learning English this al reflects on how you are teaching them you should be so proud of what you are and have done to help others this makes me so proud of you


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