19 February 2016

Grammar Error Collage

Correcting errors is not really a priority for me as a Spanish teacher or an English teacher anymore. Drawing attention to patterns of errors, though? That is my job.

So I've found a colorful way to help students see the pattern and then do something about it.

I first tried this collage with comma errors in my SAT Prep class essays, but really any type of recurring error will do. With this last round of IPAs, I decided we need to look more closely at conjugation errors. If my little parrots were ever going to break out of novicehood into Intermediate Land, they'd have to actually use a couple of verb forms correctly so they were actually producing, you know, actual sentences.


Red = AR verbs, green = ER, blue = IR
Previously, we had done the conjugation hand in their interactive notebooks--only regular verbs and singular forms, mind you, so there was room for mastery without overload.

We had also practiced yo vs.  forms with a quick conversation game where both partners got a list of our top 12 verbs for the project in both forms. They object was to try to be the first to use both forms of each verb in a conversation about their self-improvement project. Interestingly enough, those forms weren't nearly the problem that the usted/él/ella form was on the IPAs.

Still, repeated errors on the IPAs--mostly just not even trying to conjugate--led me to believe they needed to practice fixing their own problems. So I collected a set of sentences with errors from each class to make a Google Drawing collage for them to manipulate.

Error Collage Creation Steps

1. Collect sentences with similar errors from a recent assignment (verb forms, comma usage, fragments, adjective agreement--you name it.)

2. Clean up the sentences so that students can focus on one error at a time. I also like to change names "to protect the innocent"--to Latino pop star names.

3. Create at least 10 textboxes on a Google Drawing and paste a different collected error sentence into each (preferably getting a range from different students).

Note: this activity could as easily be done with printed sentences and colored pencils or highlighters, but I like to keep my assignments together on Google Classroom, and (interactive notebooks aside), I'm striving to be as paperless as possible.

3. Assign the Google Drawing on Classroom with a copy for each student and a color code for types of errors:

Rojo = forma yo
Verde = forma tú
Morado = forma usted/él/ella

or for an English class

Red = needs a comma
Green = too many commas
Purple = move the comma

4. Refer students to notes on the grammatical issue. For the commas, there were plenty of online sources. For verbs, the hands in their notebooks worked fine. It was also useful for them to be able to manipulate the hands and connect the endings to their in-context purpose.

5. Students color code according to what they think is wrong with them. This makes it REALLY easy for you to see if they can even identify the problem or not as you are wandering, so you can help people with colors out of place--or unchanged colors.

6. Once they've successfully identified the problems, then they attempt to fix them. For Spanish, I just had them rewrite the problematic verb. For English, I had them rewrite the whole sentences separately.

7. Go over a successful example together as a class, and let students update their collages.


Afterwards we went straight into a conversation activity to practice using all 3 verb forms in a conversation about the self-improvement project. Each kid got two slips with each pronoun on it and had to use them in either questions or answers.

This was not a good step.

Instead, I recommend having them first write something low-stakes using all 3 forms--probably a comic strip about someone experiencing a self-improvement need similar to their own.  Then they could share their products, perhaps via Seesaw, commenting on their favorites.

THEN I might have them do a chain type of activity in small groups, where they once again use the high-frequency verbs (perhaps referring them to page 6 of their notebooks) so partner #1 can ask a question with the form then person #2 can answer with the yo and él/ella forms before turning to person #3 and starting over with a question in tú form.

For example:
1) ¿Tienes problemas con dinero? 
2) Yo no tengo problemas con dinero, pero Chayanne tiene problemas.

THEN I might have them try the conversation game. It was pretty intense tense without the extra frontloading to put them at ease.

In the end, it's all about putting the pieces back together once students have figured out how each piece fits. Help them see the problem pattern, but then help them practice the preferred pattern. It won't work until they see both patterns for themselves.

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