Tag Archives: vocabulary

Timed writing

Blaine Ray wrote,

Having [students] do time writings without editing is an excellent way to assess fluency.

I’ve been having my students write for 5 minutes almost every class, usually at the beginning, sometimes at the end. Sometimes I set the topic, but most times I left them free to write whatever they wanted. I had them count the words and keep a record. These writing samples were great sources of information, both personal (about students) and linguistic (they revealed areas of grammar, syntax or vocabulary that needed more practice).

I did timed writings in almost all my classes, including “Speaking” and “Listening” classes.

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Keeping track

Olympus Digital Voice Recorder
Image via Wikipedia

All new vocab goes on the board. I don’t care if everyone in the class understands and recognizes the item except one person; for that one person, it goes on the board (and I’m sure at least one other person is grateful).

I very quickly ran out of room on the board, but I squeezed things on until the bell rang. While the students are filing out, I carefully noted down everything on the board on an index card, and used it for review, spot quizzes, etc., the next time. This also reminded me of what we had done in class.

I had been recording my classes with a lapel mic and a voice recorder, but I did not always remember to switch it on. Plus, the recordings have been piling up unedited on my hard-drive, waiting for me to get around to posting them on this blog. (I want to see if students will access the recordings and/or find them useful: it could be a way to “revise” before the final exam.)

Then there were a couple of classes when I had to leave in a hurry because the next teacher was waiting to use the room. I had no record.

Today, I spent the last 10 minutes or so of class giving a dictation of sentences that included most of the key structures and vocabulary that we had covered (I wiped the board clean before giving the dictation).

I did not do it as a “dictee” a la Ben Slavic, i.e. I just dictated the sentences and collected their papers.

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