End-of-term lessons 2: ‘Remedy’ lessons after tests
What do you call a lesson after the test, when students receive their written test results and are wondering what the mistakes were, what the right answers are (and why), and in general have many questions about the learning process? In our school we call these lessons ‘remedy lesson’. According to Thesaurus ‘remedy’ as a noun means
1 herbal remedies: treatment, cure, medicine, medication, medicament, drug; archaic physic.
2 a remedy for all kinds of problems: solution, answer, cure, antidote, curative, nostrum, panacea, cure-all.
I will be using it in the second meaning of course. Anyway, imagine a teacher who spent a couple of hours before the lesson going through each paper and marking them. In class the tests can be simply given out to students to see the grade/mark, or… And that’s what the post is about.
Before giving out the actual tests to students we can help them become aware of the possible answers, and think about alternatives, and realize what mistakes they made before even looking at the tests. One belief I share is that assessment needs to bring an element of learning, and another is that learning is memorable when it is enjoyable and exciting.
Anyway, how can students be prepared to receive their tests? There are several ‘well-tested’ ways (just skim the titles and perhaps you will see that most of them are old and well-known – then no need to lose time for reading!)
description: teacher prepares cards with sentences from the test on them, some are grammatically incorrect, or using a wrong word, etc. The cards are put in a circle (‘casino’ type); each student places his/her pen as a ‘counter’ and then throw a dice and ‘go’ from card to card commenting on the one they land on. If they are right, the card is theirs. The other students are listening, and if they disagree they can debate the card (and this would be the point when the help from the teacher might be needed)
comment: the roulette game brings an element if luck and fun into the simple ‘correct the wrong sentences’ task; if there is no dice a coin can be used.
description: as in the game above, teacher prepares sentences, some of which are grammatically or lexically incorrect. Students have a budget (e. g. 1000 in local currency) and their task is to buy as many correct sentences as possible spending as little money as possible.
comment: students can work in pairs or teams and this will bring more student-centeredness and add a competition element
Jig-saw Error Correction
description: students work in 2 groups, A and B, and have a handout with 10 (or more?) sentences. The task is to identify and correct the wrong ones. Then, they work in pairs – A + B – and check each other (the ‘trick’ is that A has B’s answers, and vice versa!) I think I first saw this idea in Reward Elementary a long time ago, and then adapted and internalized it to be used for the ‘remedy’ lessons after tests.
comment: really easy and quick to make and then has this great surprise element (even though students have done it many times it is fun to learn that the answers are ‘hidden’ in their partner’s worksheet!)
description: the sentences for it can be written specifically for the test’s grammar and vocabulary; students decide if the sentence is correct and then make the next move (follow the link for more details and examples)
comment: the order of the sentences needs to be exactly right for the students to be able to win (and this is the part where I sometimes struggle and rarely choose to bring this task to class – definitely need to learn to be a little more patient!)
Gallery Walk, or Gallery Run as simple as putting error correction posters around the room for students to stand up, walk to each one and discuss in pairs it trios; can bring some exercise to an evening lesson, for example, and in combination with good background music can be a great way to spend 15 minutes of the lesson (or more?)
What else can be done for a ‘remedy’ lesson? Are there any other activities that can be adapted for most levels and age groups?