Checking Homework – Using The Time Wisely

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It is quite a frequent concern of all TEFL teachers that checking written homework may take up too much of our precious lesson time with teenage students.

I’d like to share a few techniques that help me do homework check as quickly and efficiently as possible.

MY LEAST FAVOURITE TECHNIQUE

When I observe lessons, I sometimes see teachers asking the class to read aloud the answers from the workbook one by one. I used to practice this too – well, I’m sure everyone’s done that.

But when you take a look at their workbooks later, you may find numerous mistakes – students often get distracted as soon as they’ve read their sentence and stop paying attention and correcting. And the more advanced our students are, the more lesson time it may take up.

IS CHECKING THE WORKBOOKS YOURSELF SUCH A GOOD IDEA?

Well, I assume it’s much more efficient than just reading the answers aloud. It is important though, ask students to do the corrections afterwards (preferably right here in the classroom, otherwise they may just forget about that).

Unfortunately, doing this on a regular basis doesn’t seem such a good option when you have more than 5-6 students in the classroom. I usually do the checking myself when my students are writing a test or a doing a piece of writing in class.

 

ARE THERE BETTER OPTIONS?

Definitely, there are! These are my top 3:

SELF CORRECTION

I simply print out the answers to the exercises and cut them.

Students first check themselves and then look at their mistakes and find a corresponding rule in the book to correct the sentences.

AND PEER CORRECTION

Students exchange notebooks and check each other using the answer key. After that, they find the rule (if necessary) and explain the mistakes to their partner.

Self and peer correction are quick and efficient: students have time to concentrate on their own mistakes and consult the teacher personally (if necessary) without attracting the whole group’s attention.

And stronger students who only have occasional mistakes may have another 5 minutes for an extra task (don’t forget to prepare them in advance!).

USING THE BOARD

It may sound too time-consuming, but it actually isn’t.

I sometimes ask 3-4 students to come out and write the answers to our homework exercises on the board. It doesn’t usually take up more than 4-5 minutes. Then we look at the answers and check them together.

To ensure everybody’s participation, I may also ask the students to hold up a tick for every answer they agree with and a cross for every answer they consider incorrect (it may be one or two fingers/pencils instead: 1 pencil for a correct answer, 2 pencils – for an incorrect answer).

This technique works great for me for two reasons:

1! It is sometimes the easiest way to make students concentrate and really think about the answers.

2! You can instantly see who is confident and who is hesitating about what to choose and how well the class knows the material before moving on to the next topic.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WAYS TO CHECK HOMEWORK? LET’S DISCUSS!


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