Beam their errors on to the wall

Type up a list of your students' most common errors into a word or googledoc, project on to the wall and get them to have a gander.

Don't write the names of the author's beside the mistakes, leave them as anonymous...

Stand at the back of the room so that they can't ask you for help.

After a short period has passed, encourage your students to analyze the problems they see and to talk to each other about what they think each correction should be and why...

Switch groups and get them to share their thoughts with their new partners.

Then sit back down in front of computer and get them to call out the corrections to you - your same-time changes should be visible to them.  Discuss any issues that arise at this point.

Finally, you can get them to sit back down and they can either type up their own list or make notes on the errors they found most difficult to correct - or perhaps even the ones they recognize as their own/ that they find themselves making frequently.

That's it!


Useful links
What do you do with emergent language?
Use it, don't let them lose it.

9 Responses to “Beam their errors on to the wall”

  • Richard says:
    February 15, 2011

    Why not get a student volunteer (or a few to take turns) to correct the errors on the computer (or onscreen if it's a smartboard), responding to the group's instructions?

    Just a thought!

    February 15, 2011

    Oh what a grand idea, Richard, ta muchly muchly!!

  • says:
    February 20, 2011

    Oh great post. This is something students really appreciate. I keep the perpetrators anonymous too, but it’s interesting because students often start chuckling and ‘fessing up and saying "Oh, I said that".
    Something that has been troubling me about it as time progresses though is (and please understand this is no way a criticism, because I know how appreciative students are of this activity) it tends to place the focus on sentence level grammar. But sometimes focusing on larger tracts of discourse might be more helpful, but how to project them is a problem. Maybe it’s just a matter of including more adjacency pairs. Any ideas for that anyone?

  • Natalya Eydelman says:
    February 21, 2011

    Thanks for your post! Liked it very much. In my composition class I ask my students to create error analysis worksheets in their group's wiki. The idea is that they pick out some mistakes from their graded work and share them with their peers whose task it is to correct them. This way they can get helped by their peers. I join in when/if they don't know how to help their peers.

  • 26 Letters says:
    February 22, 2011

    I find the whole area of how to improve students' writing very interesting but have found most advice (in teacher training, books etc.) about error correction to be ineffective and time-consuming.

    I like your idea here: it makes error correction collaborative and communicative and it's a great approach to peer correction. I will definitely try it out. (BTW, have you got one of those digital-OHP/"Visualiser" thingies? Would be very useful for this type of work).

    However I think peer correction should be part of a number of approaches to use. What I've done for the past couple of years is to use "reformulation" for individual writing assignments. Basically the student writes a draft, the teacher corrects all errors, and then the student re-writes it but this time without errors. It's not as daft as it sounds (honest!) I've written about it on the re-jigged "26 Letters" blog.

  • Brad Patterson says:
    February 24, 2011

    I really like the direction of your idea here. It empowers the students to identify and improve mistakes, with the only immediate help of the teacher being 'there are mistakes'.

    I think Richard's idea could be a great addition in that it will give someone the role of moving the activity forward. When it's 'all up for grabs' some students are often shy, and others can dominate conversation.

    Assigning a rotating volunteer has helped me in such circumstances.

    Thnx for the post! ;)

  • DaveESLetc says:
    March 01, 2011

    This is one of my favorite ways to do error correction in the classroom. I also like Richard's idea for having a student make corrections based on what the class says.

    We've got a bunch of rooms with document cameras, too, so I've used those to look at homework. I keep the names hidden, and only use volunteers. Students really seem to like it.

  • seburnt says:
    May 18, 2011

    Great stuff, Karenne. I was about suggest the same as Richard, but he beat me to the punch. As a related idea though, when you have students originally create practice sentences, have them come to the computer and type them into your computer themselves, so it's instantly projected onto the wall. Beats writing it out by hand on the board and then having no permanent record of it.

  • Marina Shvets says:
    September 15, 2011

    Thank you for the idea, Karenne.
    I always use googledocs to check and correct students' writing. But the doc is usually shared with an idividual student. I guess it'd be great if we had something like a bank of sentences from students' essays with common mistakes shared with the whole group of students. I'm going to create it straightaway! Thanks a lot!


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