Saturday, January 07, 2006

Homework

I spent today marking homework. Streaming really works, I've found. I found myself giving the high level classes very high marks, and the low level classes very low marks. This is because the high level students made an effort to do a good job, and it showed. (That is, of course, how they ended up in the high level classes in the first place.) They wanted to learn something, and did.

My low level students, however, clearly didn't put much time or effort into their homework, and often didn't even copy things accurately. When they were supposed to write something partly copied from the textbook they'd add spelling mistakes, and miss or add letters or words. There were exceptions, of course. There were a few who obviously spent some time on their homework, and they scored high.

The most annoying thing is when I get the same awful homework several times from students in the same class, who have obviously 'helped' each other. Generally this is not good work to start with, but then mistakes get copied and multiplied and you frequently end up with something that make no sense at all. In one spectacular series of copied-from-each-other homework assignments I checked today the word clean started off as crean, morphed into crern, then cleart, and finally cteart. What did they think they were writing, I wonder?

Reading this kind of homework takes me on a roller coaster of hilarity and despair. Despair from words like cteart, and hilarity from sentences like this one, my favourite of today's lot:

Jeff would like to have a big dong but he can't, because he lives in a small apartment.

10 comments:

Pookie65 said...

In an effort start over with a cleakt slate I've made a revision to the 2005 Pookie's Choice Awards. I've no doubt you'll wear something chic and say something profound at the podium when you accept your award ;-)

melinama said...

You couldn't make that up.

naridu said...

tee hee :D

Robert said...

Poor Jeff! There's a book title in that one.

I think what you've called 'streaming" is what we refer to as tracking here and I can't decide what I think of it. I go back and forth between believing that the better students should be allowed to go at a more advanced pace and go into greater depth. But when we skim them off the top, the students who remain inevitably get the poorer teachers and a poorer education. It seems to widen the gap between rich and poor, white and black. I honestly don't have any clue how to address those problems fairly and effectively.

Badaunt said...

Robert: This streaming is only for their language classes, and for that it has worked. Without streaming we used to get all levels in one classroom, and it was really hard to teach effectively, especially since the classes are generally quite large (30 or more students). The levels varied too widely, and no matter what you did there would be some students not understanding a thing and some bored because you were teaching too low.

Last year I had a class of only twelve students at one place where streaming is not used and had to prepare four different lesson plans for that one class, the levels were so wildly different. There were two Chinese students who were fluent, two who barely knew the alphabet, a couple of Korean students who were intermediate level, and a few Japanese students at the usual level. It was a lot of work for such a small class.

At the place where the language classes are streamed, the teachers have no choice about which ones they teach, so there's no problem with the good teachers getting the good students, or anything like that.

But I understand what you mean with streaming in general. It is a hard one to implement without disadvantaging some students.

BobCiz said...

While the sentence is amusing, the best part is that it actually makes sense. At least your student was able to craft a thought and transfer it from brain to paper; My wife is a high school English teacher with over 30 years experience and she prays for her students to write simple declarative sentences that make sense. Sometimes she feels that she is teaching English as a second language to her mostly low level students. They speak such a mixture of slang and teenage jargon that understanding their typical conversation requires an interpreter. She, and I, despair for the survival of English as a written language. Kepp up the good fight.

kenju said...

That line is PRICELESS - and I think it is the book title to dream of. Very funny!

Wiccachicky said...

Isn't it odd how there is always a laughable gem in there somewhere?? Even though I don't teach streamed classes, students often present themselves as a certain type of student, and I find that more often than not if they believe they are C students, then they perform like C students. I've manage to make headway with a few this year who came to my class thinking they were C students and are now performing at about a B+ level. It's hard to reach them sometimes but isn't it wonderful when you do?

Meegan said...

As long as you keep finding bits and pieces that make you laugh out loud you're doing just fine...!

The Editter said...

LOL! But does that mean that if Jeff moves to a bigger apartment he can apply for a big dong?