I’ve been getting through some marking recently. You know how that can be.
“I know you can do this, I’ve seen you do this before!”
“Why wait until the exam to do this?!”
You see, I did teach them how to do it. I definitely did. What I neglected was to teach them how NOT to do it.
Regardless of how you feel about exams, they are part of the system. It is at least partly our job to prepare students for this high pressure situation. And if you’re going to make a mistake, this is definitely the environment you’re likely to make it in.
It always feels a terrible waste when a student has demonstrated in a classroom that they are capable, only to make rudimentary errors in the exam.
But if we can make them aware of what these errors are likely to be, they might be less likely to make them.
Let’s say you’re an english teacher and you’re trying to make students aware of the need to write in paragraphs. When you’re teaching this, you need to take a two pronged approach.
Show them what’s right.
This comes most naturally to teachers. Explain the need for paragraphs. Explain how to decide when you should start a new paragraph. Practise writing paragraphs.
Show them what’s wrong.
That big wall of text is a nice, visual example of how not to write paragraphs.
If your essay looks like this (and I’ve seen plenty that do!) then you need to rethink things.
Let’s hang out with my favourite guy Pythagoras.
What do you think? Are examples of how to do things wrong useful? Are you using them in your own classroom?