Language Educators

When to go over answers as a class? (and overall grading work/providing feedback)

  • 1.  When to go over answers as a class? (and overall grading work/providing feedback)

    Posted 01-20-2018 13:06

    I know this seems like a basic question, but I often don't feel like I am doing this correctly. I want to maximize my instructional time in class. I also want to do activities that are more effective (i.e., effective use of that instructional time). My district has a fast pacing guide and we are on block (4x4 block) with around 74 instructional days more or less per course / class term. So, I question the effectiveness of spending time going over class work and homework as an entire class. However, I question not going over answers as a class because that might increase student buy-in to do the work, increase the classroom rigor (i.e., the students put more effort into their work-the less focused students, that is), and maybe provide more relevance. There is also the issue of students tuning out when the class is going over answers as a class (i.e., the teacher calls on individual students to say their answers or come up to the front of the room and write their answers on the board). And then there are students that enjoy going up to the board and writing their answer. (It can be very time-consuming.)

    In my native speakers class, they do a lot of written work. I collect it or it is submitted online (OneNote Class notebook). I generally just assign points for completion. I don't grade for accuracy on class work. In my mind, class work is for practice (I am not expecting perfection) and assessments are for grading accuracy.

    In my non-native classes, the class work is assigned online (our district has online textbooks for Spanish 1-4 as well as AP Language through Vista Higher Learning). I usually only assign assignments that are autograded. So, the students get feedback on those autograded assignments on what they missed or got wrong and they usually have two attempts to get a 100% on the assignments that are autograded and after that 2nd attempt, the system tells them the correct answer (unless they are exercises that only have two options to pick from like T/F and 2 choices multiple-choice). I seldom grade not automatically graded activities for accuracy, but rather for completion. I do online assignments in the OneNote Class Notebook for these classes (although this term I am having the students take grammar notes from the textbook grammar tutorial videos, something more active than when I have presented the grammar videos in the past).

    What is the "right" balance for all of this providing feedback, grading student work and when and how much going over answers as a class? Do you recommend any websites or books on this?

    Thanks in advance for any insights you can provide me.

    Daniel Hanson

  • 2.  RE: When to go over answers as a class? (and overall grading work/providing feedback)

    Posted 01-21-2018 21:31
    Hi Daniel,
    I teach in college and one strategy that I use is to get students in groups and ask them to compare answers. This may not work with every homework but it will save you time, students will be more engaged and can help each other, teach each other. As a whole group you could address some specific exercise that was particularly challenging.


    Chantal Berthet

  • 3.  RE: When to go over answers as a class? (and overall grading work/providing feedback)

    Posted 01-22-2018 07:37
    Daniel, I didn’t want to post this in the discussion, as it is only a question. I kill myself grading and correcting almost everything. What online textbook do you use that has many/all exercises auto-graded? Does the Vista online help the AP kids? I also grade EVERYTHING in my big AP class, using a lot of our time speaking and/or listening. Thank you. Lonnie

  • 4.  RE: When to go over answers as a class? (and overall grading work/providing feedback)

    Posted 01-23-2018 13:30
    I also kill myself grading.  The success of students of AP Spanish (and other levels) is the quality of feedback they receive.  Unfortunately, good feedback is extremely time-consuming and takes most of the teacher's life.  :)  However, seeing the smiles of the happy students after they receive 4s and 5s on the AP exam is worth it.

    Angie Sherbondy
    Spanish Teacher

  • 5.  RE: When to go over answers as a class? (and overall grading work/providing feedback)

    Posted 01-24-2018 22:20



            Vista Higher Learning offers a lot of autograded exercises. However, for AP Spanish Language (Temas), they don't have a lot of online activities. They have more autograded activities in the lower levels of Descubre / Senderos. There are more graded activities in the AP exam prep book with the multiple choice questions.



    Daniel Hanson

    Public High School Spanish Teacher

    Denair, California, USA

  • 6.  RE: When to go over answers as a class? (and overall grading work/providing feedback)

    Posted 01-22-2018 14:55
    Hi, Daniel,

    I, too, like the electronic workbooks with autocorrecting exercises, because the faster the feedback the better!  You mentioned not giving a lot of written feedback to heritage learners ... I have found that heritage learners and higher level learners are most in need of feedback on their written work, because at these levels accuracy, spelling, and syntax are the most important.  They will be judged in the world on these things and are the people most likely to release written material to the public.  So, I assign written assignments to be typed with three-line spacing to give me room to write feedback.  They are shorter assignments, so that I don't get bogged down in corrections, but I view the writing accuracy as an important aspect for all students and especially native speakers or heritage learners.  When written feedback is not so important because we are practicing in class, the following are two of my unique activities.  First, I encourage students to go to the board in a huge group of all students (I keep a bag of dry erase markers and a bag of dustless chalk handy) and write anonymously.  Then we edit as a group so that students practice seeing mistakes by looking and learn from mistakes.  As an anonymous exercise, they do not get embarrassed by the correction, they have some investment in the task, they compare themselves to others, etceteras.  Another thing is that we will stand in a circle and tell a story in which each successive student adds one, two, or some other assigned number of words to the story.  They have to listen to what was said in order to contribute, so they practice listening, speaking, and spontaneity, which are important aspects of interpersonal mode.

    Bob Chase
    Tunxis Community College
    Capital Community College

  • 7.  RE: When to go over answers as a class? (and overall grading work/providing feedback)

    Posted 01-24-2018 08:59
    I my practice, I try to review with students when I notice that there is a wide discrepancy between the goal and what was actually learned. I usually follow-up with a mini-lesson of sorts. For example, in my Spanish 1 class, I noticed that some students, in their writing, used the third person singular to talk about themselves.  They also confused this structure on another assessment. I went over the assessment items, did a more explicit lesson, and then gave them some more practice items, short scenarios and had them decide. If you are face-to-face with students, reviewing using a Socrative approach can help. I'd write a statement on the board and ask a lot of questions about it. This works and we have a lot of fun.

    [Alicia ] [Quintero]
    [Spanish Teacher

  • 8.  RE: When to go over answers as a class? (and overall grading work/providing feedback)

    Posted 01-25-2018 19:04
    Good evening,

    I have read every answer and I still have one concern regarding this topic. How do we "marry" performance vs. proficiency? In other words, what do you do when you want to teach with proficiency as your goal when in your school district your boss is telling you it is all about performance.

    I have been teaching since the 90s and I have seen the changes in my state. I embraced proficiency, attended many OPI training workshops and understand very well what my goal is, however where I am working I am not allowed to teach how I want. I am not allowed to use backward design, nobody is interested in learning, nobody follows a curriculum...

    I do my best to teach towards proficiency. On my regular tests that is always the goal. We just finished midterms in my school and the test is based on performance. My question still stands: how can I "marry" these two? I am constantly creating things outside of class that will prepare my students for the midterm and final because I know it will not look like the tests they are used to take on a regular basis.

    I feel like I am not doing enough to get them ready for the scantron portion of their test. Their essays ROCKED! Their Interpersonal section was AMAZING! Their listening comprehension was AWESOME! I am proud of 3 out of four sections of the test. I just hate the scantron/grammar section.

    I am starting to think I need to go for counseling and/or change careers. Frustrating day today. Please forgive me.... I am just so confused.

    Gisela Cordero-Cinko

  • 9.  RE: When to go over answers as a class? (and overall grading work/providing feedback)

    Posted 01-26-2018 09:16
    Edited by Christopher Cashman 01-26-2018 09:17
    Gisela -

    You have proved time and time again in this forum that you're a thoughtful, intelligent educator.  Get rid of the idea that you're not cut out for this career or won't be able to find a way to make it work!  You're a rockstar.

    I also have recently reflected a bit on the performance-vs-proficiency issue and share your tension.  Interesting that there's another question in the forum today about how to do spontaneous language assessment.  Although I haven't incorporated this principle yet in any real way, after I did the OPI workshop this summer, here is one thing I thought of afterwards, taken from this post, under a heading called "lingering question" which is basically what you're asking.  It's not well-formulated, but perhaps it's a start:

    One thing that came to the forefront in reading my OPI materials later is that language learners can be at different proficiency levels for different modes of communication. Where are students generally weakest?  Speaking.  Students tend to be so freaked out about speaking assessments for this reason, and so what do most language teachers do?  Give the questions ahead of time, have them practice them, allow them to use notes, etc.  But deep down, we really want to assess for that more spontaneous communicative event.  That's what I understand the "movement towards proficiency" to be about – right?

    So how about we adjust the requirements of the speaking task down, but keep higher standards for other skills?

    As an example, for a unit about describing your city in a Novice/Novice-Mid level class, perhaps a speaking assessment could include a prompt like "What kinds of places do you visit in your city every week?" and would only require students to name off and list places for successful completion – no grammatical accuracy requirements attached, just comprehensibility.  However, a written task could be "Talk about what places there are in our city to your online pen pal" and require students to use some short sentences, and partially use gender agreement accurately.  Something along those lines.

    Chris Cashman
    Spanish Teacher