The English Classroom

A GUIDE TO IMPROVING STUDENT LITERACY

The Situation

You have identified a pattern of common mistakes with student narrative writing.


The Solution

When editing a class worth of writing, it is likely you will identify a range of mistakes that all (or many) students make. We call these misconceptions. A misconception, in this context, is when a student falsely believes something about the way they should write. For example, it might be a misconceptions about how to write metaphors, or presenting dialogue in a text.

When you identify these misconceptions, you need to bring it up as a class to establish a common ground with students. Their misconception may stem from your teaching or a poor habit they established in primary school.

When presenting these misconceptions, you need to do it as a collective rather than individual basis. Of course, you will edit individual student work, but inform the class that you have identified a number of areas for improvement that they collectively need to work on.

I present these misconceptions using a powerpoint that outlines five problem areas that ‘we’ need to work on.

Below are five slides that present the misconceptions and ways to avoid. You will see that I present the ‘golden rule’ – almost a mantra that students should remember. As a class you could tackle each of these misconceptions in a short activity; however, the powerpoint here is merely a starting point to generate a conception.

Capital Letters

Avoid Run-on Sentences

Dialogue and Paragraphing

Then/So

Delete The Last Sentence

What now?

Students can now make reflections on the edited work that you have provided them. They can establish:

  • Areas of improvement
  • Challenges of the task
  • Rewrite the narrative.

How else can you use collective class feedback?

You can use collective class feedback for any assessment where you have identified a pattern of misconceptions with student work. This can be a reading task or even a speaking and listening task. The driving purpose is to communicate to students that they have a misunderstanding about a concept or a way of doing something. It a checkpoint to ensure that students can rectify the way they have been doing something to avoid making the mistake over and over again.

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