Monday, July 13, 2015

What teachers are saying about Actively Engaged from Bokomaru Publications


Bokomaru Publications is an ESL publishing house for the college ESL market located in Montreal, Quebec. Instead of offering a skills book and companion grammar very loosely connected into a range of common themes as other publishers do, our course books are highly cohesive.

  • Each book explores a single theme: living together, office-life, digital literacy
  • Students learn a range of discourse models for everyday communication: narrative, description,  exposition, and argumentation.
  • The grammar and vocabulary are tightly integrated with the speaking and writing tasks.
  • Each lessons builds upon the lesson before.
  • All of the language learned throughout the semester is elicited by the final competency evaluations.
  • The competency evaluations are contextualized and goal-oriented.
  • PowerPoints keep learners focused and engaged during class time
In short, we strive to help teachers deliver cohesive and coherent courses to their college students. Do teachers like our products? Read on. We have collected testimonials from four teachers working at four CÉGEPS across Quebec. Here is what they say.


Actively Engaged on the Job for 604-100B

Actively Engaged on the Job does just what its name implies: it actively involves students in learning another language. Students love the variety of interesting classroom activities that promote specific language structures they subsequently consolidate with the companion website's online activities. My classroom is always very lively and the shyness that lower-level students traditionally demonstrate in speaking in front of their peers is gone. To top it all off, any technical difficulties or questions I have ever had were quickly resolved and/or answered by the website administrator. It is definitely worth a try.

--Jonathan Bishop, Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe 



I have been using Actively Engaged now for three years. The grammar on the power points is presented clearly and in an engaging fashion. For the level, the recycling of language in the tests and written project really help the basic grammar to stick. Too often in a course book, chapter one treats one grammar topic, which is followed by a test. Chapter 2 treats another. However, there is no continuous revision, which is in Actively Engaged. I have found a marked written improvement for the final test. The book contains many games, which are a lot of fun, and I have had students comment that they have never enjoyed an English class as much as this one. Nick has been a great support, always there promptly to help and explain any computer issues.
--Dagmara Brunst, Cégep de l'Outaouais


Actively Engaged at College for 604-101-MQ
I am currently using Actively Engaged at College with my 101 this term.  At this stage, I can say that I first like the fact that Actively Engaged at College is hosted on Moodle. This makes it easy to use, adapt, and modify. 

As a college teacher, I like the fact that it follows the weekly organization of the session and allows you to open or close lessons and sections and easily make content available or hide it as and when needed.  It is also well-designed to match the planning of the session. It provides teachers and students with the content, activities and evaluations for twelve of the fifteen weeks in addition to a review unit, a thematic unit specifically devoted to writing wikis, a hyperlink to final evaluations, and a writing tool for self- and peer-editing: www.virtualwritingtutor.com.

I also find the Powerpoint slides very handy. They are well structured and ready to deliver. Moreover, in addition to being accessible at all times for all, they are especially useful  for those who are low-level and need more time, or those who are slow and  learn at their own pace, or simply those who  are disengaged and miss class. With at-risk students, the slides take a lot off my shoulders.

The grammar and vocabulary are introduced through fun and game-like in-class pair and group activities which students enjoy -although at times.  The wiki-project is a great idea to encourage collaborative writing, and this, Actively Engaged does very well on a weekly basis with clear instructions and a well-designed template. 
 --Ali Boumoussa, Collège Ahuntsic


Labo d'Anglais is a fully loaded Moodle learning platform
Actively Engaged provides a treasure of stimulating and often playful activities that make the language less intimidating and facilitate oral and written exchanges between students of heterogeneous levels.

Fully customizable by the teacher, the online component offers many attractive features: homework management; pertinent listening, reading, and vocabulary exercises; activities grouped by lesson; a comprehensive PowerPoint document for each lesson, covering grammar, method, and formative practice. It is a single interface that can conveniently serve to take tests, do exercises, distribute documents, collect assignments, and keep track of results. Made to minimize the teacher's workload, the online component can sometimes be uneasy to use for people with low or average computer skills, but extensive technical support remedies this difficulty.I particularly enjoyed the vocabulary and the speaking activities, which are very pertinent and extremely easy to adapt to all levels. The topic and format of the writing project are entertaining as well as relevant.

Virtual Writing Tutor ESL Grammar Checker
The VirtualWritingTutor is one of my favourite features that fosters student autonomy and motivation and enables significant progress. Free and user-friendly, the VirtualWritingTutor gives students editing method by forcing them to proofread their texts. It trains them to identify their errors and to always make more than one draft. It allows hard-workers to see how much they can improve their writing, thus validating and rewarding their effort.
--Alethea Paquiot, Collège Édouard-Montpetit





Order Actively Engaged for your students today!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Four Reasons Teachers Need CorrectiveFeedback.com


Corrective Feedback--is this assignment correct?
Do I need to automate corrective feedback?

Introduction

Here is a 10-minute video about how automating aspects of corrective feedback using CorrectiveFeedback.com can help teachers correct more, better, and faster. I offer four reasons why automatic correction is, at minimum, worth considering. You can watch the 10 minute video or read the article below.



Modified Transcript

I teach ESL at Ahuntsic College in Montreal, but in my spare time I develop websites for ESL learners and teachers. CorrectiveFeedback.com, my latest web development project, is designed to help ESL teachers correct more, better, and faster than ever before. It can check for errors, check vocabulary, search for target structures, correct pronunciation errors, leave detailed written comments, send MP3 audio comments, and deploy rubrics—the list goes on and there are more features on the way. It is awesome, and I believe that CorrectiveFeedback.com is the ultimate power tool for teachers.


Skeptics will say that only an experienced teacher can give the kind of quality feedback that students need, and I agree that there are times when a teacher’s quick eye will catch something that a machine cannot, just as there are times when you want to pull your child’s t-shirt out of the laundry pile and rub some detergent directly onto the stain before putting it with the rest of the family’s laundry into the machine on the heavy-duty cycle to finish the job while you cook dinner. Teachers can resist the use of power tools, but like every other profession we will eventually integrate power tools into every aspect of our jobs.

So there are times when teachers definitely should use power tools. 
  1. If your 150 students have to wait two weeks for feedback on their errors because you refuse to use power tools on principle, that’s a problem. 
  2. If you are not checking your students’ use of the target structures taught in your course because it takes too long count the number and range of adverbs of frequency from week 3, irregular past tense verbs from week 5, synonyms of the word “said” in week 7, and the number of cohesion building transition phrases from week 8, and the use of field-related vocabulary they have been learning all semester because it takes too long, that’s a problem. 
  3. If after correcting half the pile of writing assignments, your comments are starting to sound like tersely worded voice-of-authority autopsy reports, that’s a problem. 
  4. If you just don’t have time to catch and correct pronunciation errors on speaking tasks because there just isn’t enough time in class, that’s a problem. 
CorrectiveFeedback.com provides a solution to all of these problems. If you are just checking a student’s text for surface errors, CorrectiveFeedback.com can process a text in seconds and return it to the student.

Save Time

After a little set up, you can correct 28 errors, provide links to 18 remedial practice activities, leave a 70 word comment and return your feedback to the student by email in less than a minute and a half. 90 seconds per student times 150 students is 3 hours and 45 minutes. Less than four hours of corrective feedback work on top of 15 hours of classroom teaching and 10 hours of preparation is doable, especially in light of the 150 personalized instant curricula the system generates.

Search for Target Structures

It is important that students integrate the grammar and vocabulary they study in class into their writing. You wouldn't expect them to integrate every structure and every vocabulary item in their texts, but it is reasonable to expect some of the language you present and they practice to appear in the texts they produce. If over the course of a semester you study 15 Adverbs of frequency, a list of 300 past tense verbs, a thesaurus entry with 257 alternatives to the word "said" and online exercises with 222 transition words. That’s already 779 items teachers would have to remember to search for while reading a student’s text. That’s if we were to use a positive corrective feedback method where we celebrate students’ successes instead of only noting their failures. Add to that number the tens of thousands of vocabulary items in 40 or more fields of study for students in a b-block CEGEP ESL class, the task is not just difficult—it is probably impossible. However,CorrectiveFeedback.com makes it not only possible but practical to notice and reward achievement.

Voice of the Reader Commenting

In the past, I have noticed that my comments in the margins of students’ writing assignments have been somewhat judgmental and unkind in their phrasing. I pride myself on being a compassionate person with a somewhat sunny disposition. I wish to firm but fair, and yet when I read over the tersely worded comments scrawled in the margins of my students’ papers I see things like, “awkward,” “unclear,” “rewrite,” and “needs development.” It sounds like I am describing my own commenting style.

The issue here is that no matter how good our intentions, we adopt the voice-of-authority that sounds like we are giving an autopsy on a student’s assignment. “Your writing died on the page and here’s why.” This sends the wrong message. We should instead be dramatizing the presence of the reader to the student, showing him or her what we experience when we read the text and signalling that—as imperfect as it may be—it is worthy of revision and taking into the next draft. To do that, we must maintain the voice-of-the-reader, showing students where we stumble, where we get lost, and how our experience of the text is not what was intended. To do that, we have to compose our comments when we are rested and happy. CorrectiveFeedback.com lets you do just that. By composing our comments when we are rested, storing them in graded categories, and selecting one during the feedback process, we can always say what we actually mean instead of being just being mean when we say what say.

Feedback on Pronunciation

Automating corrective feedback also offers the opportunity to score and correct pronunciation errors more effectively than we could otherwise. Native and non-native speakers alike might find it difficult to draw attention to pronunciation errors and provide standard models to imitate. CorrectiveFeedback.com makes it easy, as you can see and here with this example.

Imagine that you asked your students tell a story about a trip to Miami employing certain target verbs. Look how easy it is CorrectiveFeedback.com to identify correct and incorrect pronunciation and supply models even if you have a cold or if you have an accent yourself.

In conclusion, there are a number of advantages to using CorrectiveFeedback.com. Whether you use the system to save time while checking for common errors, to search for target structures in obligatory contexts, to dramatize the presence of the reader through voice-of-the-reader commenting, or to check, score and model pronunciation, CorrectiveFeedback.com offers a range of useful tools that ESL teachers should find quick, easy and pedagogically sound. Now that you have seen some of what the system can do, I have a question for you. What is the most attractive feature you have seen so far? Please leave a comment below.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

1. More, Better, Faster: VirtualWritingTutor.com for Corrective Feedback



The VirtualWritingTutor.com. is a free online ESL grammar checker.

Problem: Research suggests that in order for corrective feedback on writing to have any effect on learners’ proficiency it should be immediate, explicit, focused and sustained. Yet, due to the time and effort required, teachers provide delayed, coded, unfocused and unsustainable feedback on very few student drafts during the session. 
Solution: VirtualWritingTutor.com can analyze a learner text for spelling and grammar errors in less than a second. Programmed with 4700 error detection rules derived from beginner and low-intermediate level students’ narrative texts, it can reduce the load on teachers and provide an additional and sustainable source of corrective feedback directly to students.
How: Here is a step-by-step exercise to familiarize yourself with the range of features on the Virtual Writing Tutor system.
Step 1: Visit VirtualWritingTutor.com 
The Virtual Writing Tutor Grammar Checker

Step 2: Try the free grammar checker. Use the following text to get a feel of the range of errors it can catch. 
I make a lot of mistake that negatively effect my writing. Thats not good. I want always to make the good chioce of verbs. I want also to improve my pronunciation. My English-speaking friends talk about to help, but they never do. I work in a big store on the south shore of Montreal where there are a lot of immigrants people. I'm speaking every day to a men that works there. I think practicing with immigrants is equally as effective. So far, I have work there since 2 weeks and my English is getting more better. Also, I have learned already a lot about retail, but I will like to have a better job. I am waiting still for my first paycheck. They don't have paid me yet. When I will get paid, I will pay my parking tickets. Nevertheless if my English would be more better, I would definitely get a better paying job. I often wonder how many opportunities I would had had if I paid more attention to my nice English teacher in high school.
Step 3: Click "Check spelling" to access the spell checker. Checking for spelling improves the system's grammar checking accuracy. 

Rather than use the free grammar checker immediately, login as a member first. Click on the "Members" tab to access the Moodle course.
The Virtual Writing Tutor Ajax spell checker button

Step 4.1: Click on the words identified as having spelling errors and (A) select the correct spelling from the dropdown list. Once the spelling has been corrected, (B) click on resume editing.

The Virtual Writing Tutor Ajax spell checker in action


Step 4.2: The above spell-checking method relies on an Ajax spellchecker app called Googie spell. It is very useful for a visitor who has set their browser to a languages other than English, but it only works on paragraphs that contain less than 200 words. You will notice this limitation if you paste the the sample text twice into the text-area as a single paragraph. 

When paragraphs are longer than 200 words, it is advisable to use a second spell checking method. Right-click your mouse on the text field, select "Spell-checker options" and select "English." This will ensure that Chrome checks the text for English spelling errors. Right-click the words underlined with red squiggles to see spelling suggestions. 

The Virtual Writing Tutor browser-based spell checker

Step 5: Once you have checked the spelling using either method, check the grammar. Select, (A) "I agree to the terms and conditions" and then (B) "Check grammar".

The Virtual Writing Tutor--agree to terms and conditions before checking your grammar

Step 6: Review the corrective feedback and either (A) "Print the page" by clicking on the button top right or (B) do a remedial practice activity  or (C) report a false alarm or (D) "Save this text" by clicking on the button bottom right. If you choose B or D, you will have to login to the member's area.
Corrective feedback from the Virtual Writing Tutor grammar checker 
To access a practice activity, you will need a username and password. If it is your first time, click on the "Create new account button." You will need a valid email address to activate your account. If you don't see an email from Admin@VirtualWritingTutor.com, check your spam folder. If you prefer to use a generic username/password for now, use student/student.

Word Choice Error activity information screen



Word Choice Error activities
Word Choice Activity

To save your text, you will need a username and password. If it is your first time, click on the "Create new account button." You will need a valid email address to activate your account. If you don't see an email from Admin@VirtualWritingTutor.com, check your spam folder. If you prefer to use a generic username/password for now, use student/student. When the system saves (B) your text, it also saves (A) your statistics, and (C) the feedback you received. There are other features to explore, including an (D) essay outliner and (E) a list of your links.
Saved text in your profile
Step 7: The system also creates a summary of links to help students prioritize remedial practice by frequency. Click on the "Links" tab to see a prioritized list of all of the error correction practice activity links you have received and saved to your profile. 
Click "Links" to see a prioritized list of links to remedial activities.
Remedial activity links are arranged into a prioritized list.
Step 8: The Virtual Writing Tutor features an essay outliner.  Click on the "Outlines" tab to access your outlines. 
Click on "Outlines" to access the essay-outliner.
Step 9: On the essay-outliner page, you are presented with three pedagogical essay types to write outlines for. The first is a four-paragraph opinion essay-outliner. With it, you select your method of generating interest in your topic, define and limit your topic, and present a thesis with two supporting arguments. 
Three essay types to outline
I created the essay-outliner in order to assist learners who struggle with remembering all of the parts of a pedagogical essay, their argument, and its expression in English.  The essay-outliner should reduce the cognitive load by managing the steps of the tasks so that the learner can focus on the logical and linguistic aspects of writing an outline. 

Essay outliner system assists in the organization of ideas
Once the form-fields have been filled in, the learner can "Generate my outline" to see how it looks and print it out. 
Outline generated by the Opinion Essay Outliner
The essay outline can be printed to PDF or a hard copy, or copy-pasted into a Word document to be included with a cover-page to be handed in. 
Printed version of the essay-outliner result
The Virtual Writing Tutor can also generate outlines for prioritized list essays and argument essays (an opinion essay with a counter-argument, concession, and refutation). The student can store essay outlines indefinitely in his or her profile, adding and modifying outlines as required using a computer or smartphone. 

The Virtual Writing Tutor Logo

Learn about the second website for corrective feedback: FieldRelated.com


Friday, January 30, 2015

2. More, Better, Faster: FieldRelated.com for Corrective Feedback


At my TESL Toronto Technology for Teachers MiniConference workshop, the second of the three websites I am presenting is FieldRelated.com.

Problem: There are extensive differences in vocabulary and grammar between academic and conversational registers. In technical writing, each field has its own set of specialized terms to use. Therefore, focusing feedback on word choice often requires specialized knowledge.

Solution: FieldRelated.com is a text analyzer that checks if a text is predominantly academic or conversational in its diction. It then counts and categorizes field-related vocabulary, identifies the field with the most matches, and provides links to resources and a glossary. 

How: Here is a step-by-step exercise to familiarize yourself with the range of features on FieldRelated.com

Step 1: First, visit FieldRelated and explore the navigation menu. (1) Analyze a text on the index page. (2) Learn about the differences between academic and conversational vocabulary, translate CEGEP program names, and see a list of the fields of study that the system can detect. (3) To suggest a new field of study, add a field-related website or online video to an existing field, or  suggest field-related vocabulary to add to the system's field-detection database. (4) Send me an email. (5) Learn about the website. (6) Visit the blog or read the terms and conditions. 


Step 2: Once you are comfortable finding your way around the website, it is time to put it through its paces. Begin by copying the texts below one at a time and checking them for conversational and academic vocabulary. Before you have FieldRelated.com analyze it, scan it for conversational words and academic words. Test yourself. See if your intuition about word choice is the same as FieldRelated's.

Here is an authentic conversational text found in one of Lextutor.ca's conversational corpora:
Oh God, it's her bloody Honda! Nice sound.! These are the new disabled stickers. Oh. They used to be like that. What is it for? No, you go in the box. Yes. Yeah. Passport holders. Ah? Passport holders. Mm. there's one in the G P O. So where are you gonna put this now? there's room in the front of the car. So, if you'd like to come down and have conversation? Sue's gone to er Llangywneth Nathan, by his brain scan. I don't know, they think that he's got er dead brain cell or something, yeah? Why? Then here, going she's now going to. It's the back, the connection, from here to the brain. Oh. No, there's just something that isn't connected to the brain properly. Is it from here? That's there's something wrong. Why doesn't try out here.? They've done it!. there's some connection. And they're going to find out what it is that the doctor said. Do you think they will?. Er How will I get one next? To, get it then! But I can't afford to get it at the same time anyway cos he he won't be down to Go get it. But when I was. But er How much did you pay for that black one? My black waistcoat? Mm. How do you learn to make a waistcoat out of it?.. Like heavy black. I like that coat,. Cos I'm fed up of stuff going all bubbly! The stuff that the waistcoat , keep a waistcoat for work. If anything, it's. Good God his trousers! Mm? He does know. I put I know!

Here is an authentic academic text found in one of Lextutor.ca's academic corpora:
Further, multivariate analysis of the POE data provides the first scientific investigation of courtrooms as work settings. Finally, eight key performance indicators of courtrooms were developed based on the POE data. Throughout history culture and place have been dynamic concepts. Major factors contribute to both their evolution and deterioration as recognizable characteristics of a society. Since humans began manipulating and adding to the environment, some of the notable influences on place and culture have been the inventions of language, the printing press, electricity, the automobile, and many others. With the recent innovations associated with electronic media, namely television and the Internet, place and culture have once again been dramatically altered. there is never a seamless transition when societies adopt new ways of communicating and interacting, rather, there are periods that require the re-balancing of morals and values. Lacking in the public realm and urban fabric of U.S. cities are places to partake in the discourse and deliberation associated with shifts in communication and interaction rituals due to the ubiquity of electronic media.
Step 3: Next check the following reading texts for field-relatedness.
  1. http://www.shmoop.com/careers/probation-officer/typical-day.html
  2. http://www.careerstep.ca/blog/administrative-assisting-news/a-day-in-the-life-of-an-administrative-assistant
  3. http://radiationoncology.osu.edu/patient-care/headandneck/whattoexpect/

Step 4: Finally, check these two beginner-level student narratives for field-relatedness. Before you check them on FieldRelated.com, estimate the number of field-related terms in each text. Does your intuition match the system's analysis?
Student Text #1
My name is Mary and I'm the paralegal of the Montreal Law Firm. I have been working here for two years and I love my job. At the beginning, I was studying in Youth and Adult Correctional Intervention, but I finally decided to study in Paralegal Technology. Every day, I arrive at work at 9 a.m. and I go to my desk. My desk is in a big and beautiful office and he is just in front of Judy's desk. During the day, I have to do a lot of research and I have to inform the customers. I love the part of my job where I have to do research in my office because I'm alone and it's relaxing.
One day, I had a dream. I was at the mall and I was very rich so I bought a lot of clothes. Then, I received a call from Taylor Swift and she asked me to sing with her. I was so excited because I love Taylor Swift! During the show, I wasn't nervous, but when I started to sing, I suddenly forgot all the lyrics and then, I woke up.
When I woke up, I realized that I was late for work. I got dress quickly and I ate a little breakfast, but I arrived late at work for the first time in my life. While I was saying hello to Alex the bailiff, she made me notice that I was wearing my pants pajamas. I was so desperate so she gave me a coffee, but then, I spilled my coffee on me! Later, Anna the secretary said to me: "Did you know the rumor? There is going to be a lay-off and I hope it is you!"
Then, my boss called me for a performance review interview. He asked me a few questions and, at the end of the interview, he asked me who he should fire and why. I answered: " If I were you, I would lay-off Anna because she doesn't like Taylor Swift."
Finally, the boss laid off Alex. Anna was so happy that she kissed the boss! Everyone was very surprised. A few minutes after, Judy the judge fell on the ground and then she punched me in the face. I asked her why she did this and she apologized. She was thinking that it was my fault, but it wasn't. Then, the ambulance arrived and I went to the hospital.

Student Text #2

Hello, my name is Natalie. I am 28 years old. I studied business administration at the University a Paris Dauphine. I work in the company Cosme Inc. in Paris. I have been working here for three years.
Every day, I arrive at work in the morning and I drink a cup of coffee, I check the orders and when the phone rings, I answer it while I fill out forms for the distribution of our products. Often, I have to work with my colleague Yesenia to check the amount of merchandise that we have. I work with numbers and I am responsible for the distribution of different products to various countries.
Last week, I had a dream. I dreamed that I was in a party with my friends but when I could try to talk, no sound came from my mouth. My friends could try to talk to me but I wasn't listening. I was scared and I didn't know what could happening. Suddenly, the scene changes. I began to fall in a black hole so I prayed. Later, I saw wings in my back and I started to fly. Then I woke up. I think that my dream means that I want more power in the company.
The next day, I had a bad day. I woke up late. I took my shower very fast. When I made my breakfast, the bread burned and the fire alarm sounded. While I was waiting for the bus, it started to rain. If I had known, I was brought an umbrella. In addition, the bus was delayed and didn't stop where I was waiting, so I had to wait for the next bus. I arrived late at work.
My boss did a performance review interview because the company have some financial problems and he said me that someone of us should be fire. I was very nervous. I answered all the questions, later my boss asked me for advice and I said: "If I were you, I would lay-off Richard because he is always wasting time on Facebook."
Finally, the boss call us for a meeting. He said who was fired and the person was Alice the accountant. After, the office became a chaos. Alice screamed, “I hate you!” Then, Alice punched Lucy and Richard kissed Yesenia. Later, the police arrived and all the people was arrested.
Field Related Logo

Monday, January 26, 2015

3. More, Better, Faster: CorrectiveFeedback.com for Corrective Feedback

At my TESL Toronto Technology for Teachers MiniConference workshop, the third of the three websites I am presenting is CorrectiveFeedback.com.

Problem: Providing feedback is very time consuming and tiring. Despite our best intentions, teachers tend to revert to terse voice-of-authority comments on student assignments instead of maintaining a subjective voice-of-the-reader tone because of fatigue. Furthermore, teachers may limit their feedback to only one or two aspects of a student's assignment because of time constraints. 

Solution: CorrectiveFeedback.com provides teachers with a range of automatic feedback tools that assist them in maintaining the more effective voice-of-the-reader commenting tone and assess a student's grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and target structure use. 

How: Here is a step-by-step exercise to familiarize yourself with the range of features on CorrectiveFeedback.com.

Step 1: The first step in using CorrectiveFeedback.com is to create a profile. For that, you will need a username and password. It takes just a minute to join.
CorrectiveFeedback.com index page
To create an account on the system, click on the registration button. 
The sign-up form on CorrectiveFeedback.com
Fill out the form with your information.
An illustration of how to fill out the form with generic credentials
Note that your username on the system is name@correctivefeedback.com. Click register, and you are done. Simple. Now you are ready to begin using the system.

The Dashboard of CorrectiveFeedback.com
Note that you are automatically provided with 100 credits, equivalent to $10 and enough to assess 100 students' assignments. I want you to experiment with the system without feeling stymied by the thought of having to pay for mistakes. 

Step 2: After creating an account on the system, the first step is to create a grid. A grid is a collection of corrective feedback tools. Grids can be edited and deleted, so feel free to experiment. You can get to the "Create Grid" screen by clicking on the CorrectiveFeedback.com logo, from the dashboard pictured to the right, or from the navigation bar on the left of most screens. 

Start at the top-right of the "Create Grid" screen. (1) Give your grid a name. The grid name will appear as the title of the PDF you return to the student. (2) Write a description of the assignment and the feedback you are providing. The description will appear below the title on the PDF on the first page. What I like to do is to include a brief description of the task that will be assessed. (3) Select the tools you want to use. Most teachers like to add the "Student name" tool and the "Learner text" tool so that it is easy to identify who the corrective feedback is for and to refer back to the text that was submitted.
Create a grid on CorrectiveFeedback.com
Other useful tools include "Check for Errors," the VirtualWritingTutor.com grammar checker tool, "Field Related Vocabulary," a field of study vocabulary checker, "Word Choice," an academic versus conversational word choice vocabulary profiler.

When you add a tool to your grid, you may notice that each tool comes with an Additional Random Comments (ARC) section with comments already in it. ARCs are a list of pre-defined comments that you may want to use when responding to a student's assignment. Below you see that the "Check for Errors" tool comes with three categories of random comments: praise, encourage, and scold. These category headings are never shown to students, but one comment from each category is selected at random and shown to you while you are evaluating a student's assignment. At that time, you will be able to choose which comment to include in your feedback. 

You may wonder why I have chosen to include a random commenting feature with every tool. The reason is to mitigate the negative effects of fatigue on teachers' comments. As teachers tire of evaluating students' assignments, their comments tend to get shorter, more repetitive, and suffer from mission drift. The idea, therefore, is to give teachers an opportunity to write comments before they start evaluating, at a time when they still feel like a reader (instead of a judge) and still have the principles of good pedagogy in mind. 

You will also notice that each comment is a paraphrase of the others under the same heading. In the screen capture below, all of the comments emphasize effort expressed using the voice-of-the-reader to praise the students for their effort, encourage them to continue putting effort into their work, or exhort them to put more effort into their work. This ensures that students get the consistent message that success is within their control and depends on the amount of effort they bring to their studies. But we all know that when we get tired as teachers, we start to write shorter comments like, "Good work," or "Awkward." Short voice-of-authority comments like these can convey the subtle message that the student's effort is irrelevant to our academic autopsy since only the final product matters. We don't intend it, but our fatigue makes us abandon the principles of good pedagogy. The ARC tool gives teachers a way to stay fresh and consistent while evaluating the whole group.

Using the ARC tool is optional. You can remove it  by deselecting the check box above it. You can add and remove categories, rewrite comments. The system makes it easy to comment in your own way. 

You will also notice as you scroll down that each tool includes a rubric. Rubrics are commonly used by teachers to compare a student's work to a series of graded descriptions. When you evaluate a student, you can select a descriptor and grade, and they will appear as part of the corrective feedback you return to the student in the form of a PDF.

Step 3: Save your grid and test it. Click "Check Assignment" and use the following text to test the system. You will see that CorrectiveFeedback.com uses the VirtualWritingTutor's grammar detection rules, but the system gives teachers a greater ability to focus feedback and comment in the feedback generated. 

Sample text with a range of Grammar Errors
I make a lot of mistake that negatively effect my writing. Thats not good. I want always to make the good chioce of verbs. I want also to improve my pronunciation. My English-speaking friends talk about to help, but they never do. I work in a big store on the south shore of Montreal where there are a lot of immigrants people. I'm speaking every day to a men that works there. I think practicing with immigrants is equally as effective. So far, I have work there since 2 weeks and my English is getting more better. Also, I have learned already a lot about retail, but I will like to have a better job. I am waiting still for my first paycheck. They don't have paid me yet. When I will get paid, I will pay my parking tickets. Nevertheless if my English would be more better, I would definitely get a better paying job. I often wonder how many opportunities I would had had if I paid more attention to my nice English teacher in high school.
Student Field of Study Narrative Text
My name is Mary and I'm the paralegal of the Montreal Law Firm. I have been working here for two years and I love my job. At the beginning, I was studying in Youth and Adult Correctional Intervention, but I finally decided to study in Paralegal Technology. Every day, I arrive at work at 9 a.m. and I go to my desk. My desk is in a big and beautiful office and he is just in front of Judy's desk. During the day, I have to do a lot of research and I have to inform the customers. I love the part of my job where I have to do research in my office because I'm alone and it's relaxing.
One day, I had a dream. I was at the mall and I was very rich so I bought a lot of clothes. Then, I received a call from Taylor Swift and she asked me to sing with her. I was so excited because I love Taylor Swift! During the show, I wasn't nervous, but when I started to sing, I suddenly forgot all the lyrics and then, I woke up.
When I woke up, I realized that I was late for work. I got dress quickly and I ate a little breakfast, but I arrived late at work for the first time in my life. While I was saying hello to Alex the bailiff, she made me notice that I was wearing my pants pajamas. I was so desperate so she gave me a coffee, but then, I spilled my coffee on me! Later, Anna the secretary said to me: "Did you know the rumor? There is going to be a lay-off and I hope it is you!"
Then, my boss called me for a performance review interview. He asked me a few questions and, at the end of the interview, he asked me who he should fire and why. I answered: " If I were you, I would lay-off Anna because she doesn't like Taylor Swift."
Finally, the boss laid off Alex. Anna was so happy that she kissed the boss! Everyone was very surprised. A few minutes after, Judy the judge fell on the ground and then she punched me in the face. I asked her why she did this and she apologized. She was thinking that it was my fault, but it wasn't. Then, the ambulance arrived and I went to the hospital.

A Field of Study Video

A Narrative MP3 recording

Corrective Feedback Logo


Monday, June 2, 2014

Welcome to Bokomaru Publications

Welcome to the Bokomaru Publications blog

Bokomaru Publications is an English Second Language publisher located in Montreal, Canada. We are committed to good pedagogy and community service, and offer a range of engaging student books, teacher resources, and useful websites. 

In the posts that follow, you will hear news about research we have encountered that inspires us to develop new and better products to serve the needs of ESL learners and teachers everywhere. 

Feel free to comment below or visit our webstore.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Survey on Mastery Learning

Do you agree or disagree with the following statements? Circle your answer.

1.  Differences in learning are due to a lack of variation in instruction.

Completely agree --- somewhat agree --- somewhat disagree --- completely disagree


2.  Variation in teaching strategies and methods leads to similar levels of achievement for all learners.

Completely agree --- somewhat agree --- somewhat disagree --- completely disagree


3.  Classroom assessments often do little more than identify for whom the teacher’s instructional method is appropriate. 

Completely agree --- somewhat agree --- somewhat disagree --- completely disagree


4.  End of unit assessments should prescribe remediation procedures, not just measure achievement.

Completely agree --- somewhat agree --- somewhat disagree --- completely disagree


5.  For feedback to be effective, it must be paired with correctives, activities that offer guidance and direction on how to remedy learning problems. 

Completely agree --- somewhat agree --- somewhat disagree --- completely disagree



If you agree with these statements, you agree with the basic principles behind mastery learning. To learn more about Benjamin Bloom's model of instruction, see this link.