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    Copie de final assignment int400 genevieve charland Copie de final assignment int400 genevieve charland Document Transcript

    • UNIVERSITE DE SHERBROOKE Faculté d’éducation Département de pédagogie B.E.A.L.S. Providing Feedback to Written Assignments Geneviève Charland 06 844 659 Work presented to Michelle Paradis and Dominique Hétu As part of Professional Essay (INT 400) 41 April 15, 2010
    • 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………….…………………..2 2. CONTEXT…....................………………………….…………………………………………..3 2.1 RESEARCH PROBLEM…………………………………………………………………...3 3. LITERATURE REVIEW.......………………………….………………………........................5 4. ACTIONS TAKEN………………………………………………………………………….…11 4.1 METHODOLOGY AND ANALYSIS …………………...………………………….........13 5. RESULTS……………………………………………………………………………………....27 6. EFFECTS OF THE RESEARCH ON PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT………………....34 7. CONCLUSION...…………………………..………………………….……….........................35 8. REFERENCES………………………………..………………….….....................................…36 9. APPENDICES..............................…………………….…………………….............................38 9.1 APPENDIX 1 - Detailed planning of the actions…….……………..….………………..…39 9.2 APPENDIX 2 - All the educational material produced……..…….……..………………... 58 9.3 APPENDIX 3 - Data collection and analysis material ……….....………............................63 9.4 APPENDIX 4 - Some authentic material used for data collection…....................................68
    • 3 Abstract Major dilemmas of assessment are how to correct and provide effective feedback to students written assignments. This work presents an action research about providing constructive feedback on ESL students` written assignments. This subject is compelling because teachers need to find a constructive way to correct assignments and provide meaningful feedback. Various sources are discussed, as well as methods to make students write texts. An analysis of the data and experience are provided. Overall, corrections need to be done quickly but be meaningful. The research had a greater impact on stronger students. They learned from their mistakes more quickly than weaker students. This paper will allow readers to develop their correction methods and hopefully enlighten them on which method is constructive.
    • 4 Providing Feedback to Written Assignments Up until now in my career, I have gained experience while teaching every level from kindergarten to secondary five. I also had the occasion to teach Intensive English to six graders, teach in private schools as well as an animator for group discussions in college. Ever since I started teaching, I noticed that students did not take into consideration written corrections on their assignment, which is why I focused my action research on the following question: how can a teacher provide constructive feedback on ESL students` written assignments? Consequently, this paper is a description of my action research, which inspired students to write and use constructive feedback from the teacher (me) to learn from their mistakes. This paper examines my action research problem, the actions I undertook my methodological approach as well as my results and the principal effects of the research on my professional development. The Research Problem I chose this subject because, at the beginning of my teaching career, my standards were too high. I quickly learned that when correcting a student’s written assignment, I should not underline in red every mistake, because when students received their copy they were disappointed. Another pitfall was that they did not take the time to look at the mistakes. As a teacher, I would spend time correcting each text and it was upsetting to see that students did not even take the time to look at the corrections and learn from their mistakes. Next, I changed my correcting method. I spent more time looking for what the students did right and I worked to build on those strengths, rather than pointing to weaknesses. Of course, I also helped students to improve their weak points but I learned to share with them what they had done right instead of only telling them what they had done wrong. For my part, this subject interested me greatly because I wanted to find a constructive way to correct assignments and provide meaningful feedback and corrections. Students have different ways of
    • 5 learning. Some will take the time to read the corrections and will not make the same mistake twice because they acquired new knowledge and understood it. Others do not even take the time to look over the corrections. Why should I correct if it is not meaningful for the students? The impact my corrections have on students is important for me as a teacher and I ceased the occasion to research on the subject. Since English is mostly a second language in Quebec, it is hard, according to me, to expect a well structured and error free text on behalf of the students, which creates a problem and brings possible consequences. I remember correcting written assignments from secondary 5 students and having a lot of difficulties to interpret the message. Teaching a second language is a challenge and learning it is even a greater challenge. But, in my opinion, students should start writing in English as soon as in grade one. That way, the quality of texts would be greater by the end of high school, which means after eleven years of English as a second language. Even if English is a second language, I believe that it can be mastered especially when students are learning it during many years and at a young age. Even if students had different abilities and backgrounds, I needed to motivate all of them to write. As far as I was concerned, they were not stimulated to write in their second language whether it was from their parents or previous English teacher. Therefore, it was a challenge for me to get them to write a text but I believed that with the proper tools and motivation they would succeed and most of them did. My objectives were to get the students to write complete sentences without mistakes, provide feedback and see improvement in the students writing competency. On top of focusing on my action research question, how can a teacher provide constructive feedback on ESL students` written assignments? I also focused on sub questions such as: are mistakes good or bad, how to teach students to revise their text, how to motivate students to write, and, does intensive English make a difference for students who are learning how to write in English?
    • 6 Literature Review Writing is a highly valued skill that is often neglected in the ESL classroom. I think that one reason is that teachers often do not receive adequate training in writing assessment. This task also consumes a lot of class time. Since students are expected to brainstorm, write a draft copy, correct their mistakes and then write a final copy. All this is not done in one class. Many different methods are used by teachers to evaluate student writing. Which method is the best? How may teachers provide constructive feedback on ESL students` written assignments? In this present study, various feedback methods are analyzed. I examined effective and efficient methods to provide feedback according to authors and the preference between peer feedback, self feedback and teacher feedback. I also summarized the three traditional approaches to rate learners and explained the writing competencies that students need to achieve according to the MELS. When I talk about writing, I mean that students need to write structured texts using handwriting. They are not writing what they want; they need to follow a process. It is not free writing but specific writing. The criterion that is the most important when I correct is the interpretation of the text. If I understand what the student writes, even if there are mistakes, it is the essential. For the purpose of this research, I observed the students reaction to my feedback which means that I noted if it was a positive or negative reaction. If students learned from my corrections, it was positive and if not, it was the opposite. According to Williams, the traditional method used by teachers which is only correcting the mistakes is not working. Students copy the corrections but do not understand the mistakes they made. It does not teach students how to recognize or correct errors on their own. Indicating the presence or types of errors without correction is also ineffective. Many times the students do not understand why errors were indicated and guess the corrections as they rewrite. Both of these methods ask students to focus more on surface errors than on the clarity of their ideas, and it only stresses the negative.
    • 7 Let’s focus on the meaning of feedback for the purpose of this study. What does it really signify? According to Williams, (2003) “The goal of feedback is to teach skills that help students improve their writing proficiency to the point where they are cognizant of what is expected of them as writers and are able to produce it with minimal errors and maximum clarity.” (Williams, 2003) He also states the difference between feedback on form which is to indicate by underlining the place and type of error but without correction and feedback on content which is written comments by teachers on drafts, to point out problems and offer suggestions. Students are expected to incorporate information from the comments into their writing. In order to give effective and efficient feedback, Woodhouse and Page (2006) suggests the following: Don’t correct more than a paragraph or two; Give rules or strategies for language errors; Distinguish language issues from comments on the substantive issues about the assignment; Give feedback anonymously to the whole group highlighting common problems, rather than to each individual; Give feedback on aspects that the student requests; Refer for ESL support when necessary. (Woodhouse and Page, 2006) I wanted to take into consideration these suggestions when I corrected and provided feedback but I did not followed all of them since students expected me to correct their whole text and not only a single paragraph. However, I did give feedback to the whole group and shared common mistakes that were made. Williams (2003) believes that two methods work to give appropriate and effective feedback. The first one is when students receive grammar feedback that indicated the place but not types of errors. Indirect feedback is more useful than direct correction. The second one is when students find understanding written feedback problematic. Student-teacher conferencing is useful to develop strategies for improvement, since direct questions can be asked and answered right away. (Williams, 2003)
    • 8 The two previous authors only elaborated on written feedback on the other hand Ferris and Hedgcock (2004) suppose that “it is safe to assume that some students may have problems adequately comprehending oral feedback, even though the conference format allows them increased opportunities to request clarification.” (Ferris and Hedgcock, 2004, p. 205) Williams (2003) also states that teachers should consistently use a standard set of symbols and familiarize students with the system. They should also use a standard set of clear and direct comments and questions to indicate content feedback. They should also familiarize students with the types of comments and train them how to make use of the comments. (Williams, 2003) Shum, a teacher at the University of Hong Kong in China, performed a study which “investigated the effects of four different methods used to evaluate Chinese compositions of senior secondary students in Hong Kong, with a particular interest in examining whether any one method would result in improving students' attitudes to writing (especially their willingness to revise) and increasing their writing achievements.” (Shum, p.1) The first method is a “detailed evaluation by the teacher”. The second one is an “evaluation by the teacher using symbolic codes”. The third one is a “peer evaluation by students using a checklist after students receive some training”. The last one is a “self-evaluation by students using a checklist.” (Shum, p.2) Shum cited Liu (1985) who used a rather interesting figure of speech to describe these four methods: The process of conducting detailed evaluation of composition by teachers is similar to that of teaching a child how to walk. The adult would first demonstrate how to walk to the child. The process of teacher evaluation by using symbolic codes and giving the composition back to the students is similar to that of helping the child to walk by leading him the way. For peer evaluation, it is similar to the process of letting the children walk hand in hand. Self- evaluation by students is similar to the situation when the child learned how to walk on his own, as equivalent to the ultimate goal of training. (Liu, 1985) Shum’s results “showed that the students in the 'peer evaluation (checklist)' group performed better in terms of taking the initiative in rewriting, their writing habits and their recall rate of revising. A post-study questionnaire survey of the students found that they generally held a positive attitude
    • 9 toward peer evaluation by checklist. ” (Shum, p.1) However, Woodhouse and Page (2006) obtained a different result on a similar survey. Apparently, students “overwhelmingly preferred teacher feedback over peer and self-feedback” (Woodhouse and Page, 2006, p. 228) Students also want, according to William (2003), multiple rewrites, student-teacher conferencing, label mistakes and to make corrections on their own and feedback about the content. According to Bailey, author of the book Learning about language assessment: Dilemmas, decisions and Directions, there are three traditional approaches to rate learners writing: holistic, analytic, and objective scoring. What distinguishes scoring systems from one another is how values are assigned to the written product. Scoring criteria need to be defined before correcting. Correction should be “designed to give not only a `yes` or `no` answer as to whether the student can do a task, but should indicate how well he or she can do it relative to how well he or she needs to do it ” (Bailey, 1998, p. 186) In holistic scoring, the teacher reacts to the student`s text as a whole. The tool used is a scale instead of counting the number of errors. “The advantages are that it is fast and provides a standard understood by the teacher and students.” The disadvantage is that it “does not provide a useful diagnostic feedback to students” (Bailey, 1998, p. 189) In analytic scoring, students' texts are assessed on a variety of “categories: content, organization, vocabulary, language and more” (Bailey, 1998, p. 190) It would be a useful method to define students' strength and weaknesses. In objective scoring, a “quantified method” (Bailey, 1998, p. 192) is used. Students are asked to count their words and circle for example the 250th word. Then, the teacher underlines every mistake, and assigns a score to each error, from 3 to 1, 3 being sever and 1 minor.
    • 10 In the school system, students need to achieve a writing competency whether it is at the primary level or in secondary. At the end of cycle 3, in elementary school, which is grade six, students are expected to attain competency 3: To write texts. According to the elementary English as a Second Language Program: By the end of Cycle Three, students write a variety of well structured texts to fulfill meaningful goals. Supported by peers and the teacher, students make greater and more confident use of compensatory and learning strategies. They produce a text that is pertinent to the instructions given and apply the language conventions targeted for the task. From an open-ended model and available resources, students deliver a personalized final product that shows imagination and creativity, and takes the intended audience into account. (MELS, 2003) Few are the students who can write a text at the level and hardly any have the ability to revise their texts using strategies. Since students do not always have the same English teacher year after year, some are not prepared adequately to achieve this competency. I believe that if students would have the same teacher throughout many years it would allow them to have a finer consistency and development of their skills. Now, in our school system, students seem to be learning the same aspects over and over since they are taught by various teachers that do not necessarily share what they have already done with the students. In the first cycle in secondary, students need to achieve competency 3: Writes and produces texts. According to the Secondary Cycle One ESL programs: By the end of Secondary Cycle One, students write and produce popular, literary and information-based texts that represent their increased proficiency and their emerging personal style. In order to write/produce an effective, well- structured text, they use and adapt personalized writing and production processes to the task at hand with increased ease…. They write/ produce a well formulated text that is easily understood. They request, provide and integrate feedback from peers and teachers on a regular basis….Students reflect regularly on their successes and challenges and make appropriate adjustments for their continued language development. (MELS, 2003) Even if students are expected to accomplish all that, it is not everyone who does. Most of them try to produce an understandable text but unfortunately, do not have the right resources to progress. Some
    • 11 students are translating word by word from French to English and believe their message will be clear. Students should be provided with strategies in order to help them to construct a text directly in English. In the second cycle in secondary, students need to perform the same competency as in cycle one. According to the Secondary Cycle Two ESL programs: By the end of Secondary Cycle Two, students have developed a positive attitude towards writing and producing texts in English. With some support from the teacher and peers, they use and adapt the writing and production processes to suit the task. They persevere, even when faced with challenges, and take risks with language. Students cooperate and are open to other viewpoints during the writing and production processes. (MELS, 2003) These outcomes are not realistic for some students. Even after following many English classes, many students did not yet grasp how to write an error proof text. At times, the motivation is missing, I do not think it is their fault but instead, I blame the school systems and teachers that do not provide them with what they need. According to the British Columbia ministry of education, experienced teachers have found that ESL students make better, faster, progress in the long run if they are given sufficient time to absorb new input and are not pressured to complete work or meet the usual age-level performance expectations right away. Most of the frequently used and relied on methods of teacher feedback on written assignments are ineffective when it comes to developing writing skills. Although students tend to have greater confidence in teachers' evaluations and, in opposition, tend to have doubts about their classmates' feedback, peer evaluation can encourage students to revise and improve students' writing habits. Moreover, teachers need to familiarize and train students in how to effectively use the feedback in order to make gains in their proficiency and competence as English writers. Actions taken My action research took place in the elementary school Saint-David, which is part of the
    • 12 Commission scolaire des Bois-Francs in Victoriaville. I chose this school because it offers a regular English program as well as an Intensive English program. Students for whom English is a second language are a growing segment in this school population. I focused my action research on the second year of cycle 3, which is grade six. I elaborated my research with students in the regular English program as well as the Intensive English program. I was curious to see the differences between students in the two programs. At first, I planned to do it with students in the regular program but I quickly realized that it was not the greatest group to do my research with. So, even if it was not part of my practicum, I asked the intensive English teacher if I could elaborate a few writing projects with her students. It was the end of the program therefore the students were strong in English and produced great work. In the regular program, there were 26 students. There were no typical ESL students. Two students had an attention deficit. Five students were enriched in English. One student was bilingual. Six students were weak in English. One student spoke only Spanish. I saw the group three times, for a period of sixty minutes in a cycle of ten days. In the Intensive English program, there were 27 students. The objective of the program is to make students functional in their second language, and in all life situations. In an Intensive English class, 50% is devoted to teaching English and 50% of the remaining time to other subjects taught in French. Intensive English is equivalent to approximately 8 years of regular English. A period of five consecutive months is devoted to the teaching of English and another period of five months to other school subjects. The major differences between the two programs are the increased time allocated to teaching English and the concentration of teaching time. Observations from studies conducted at the College International Marie de France stated that student: Speak better than students in regular classes; Are more comfortable to speak and have a more varied vocabulary; Are more confident and less hesitant to
    • 13 take risks. Here are excerpts from a study of the school board Eau Vive done the MEQ, RCCPALS and SPEAQ: "... The average of students in subjects other than English was even higher than the one of students in the regular ... " "... Benefit from a program like intensive English both on the development of their English skills and their motivation as well as their autonomy... " My research touched on the competency 3, Write Texts, which is almost the same in the two programs except for a slight difference: Regular English Intensive English Write a variety of well structured texts to Write a variety of original and well achieve a meaningful objective. structured texts to achieve a meaningful objective. In the two programs, most students were Canadian-born from francophone families who lived in the surrounding neighborhood. All students had varied degrees of exposure to their second language, as well as a wide variety of life experiences and attributes that can significantly enrich the life of the school and help enhance learning for all students. Some had various linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Not all required the same types of support. A number of students needed to complement their early childhood experiences and first languages with wide ESL support to be successful in the school system. A few students immigrated to Victoriaville from Germany, Algeria, Columbia and the United- States with their families after having received some formal education in their home countries. In some cases, they learned English as a foreign language in school. Given appropriate ESL support, including cultural-bridging experiences, these students progressed well in their new schools. Some students arrived in Canada as refugees. These students received little or no schooling in their country. They also experienced traumatic conditions caused by political, social, and economic disturbance. In addition to ESL support, these students needed specialized counseling and literacy training in their first language as well as in French since it is the main language taught.
    • 14 Methodology and analysis The purpose of my action research was to bring students to consider the teacher’s (my) feedback on their written assignments. I focused on students in grade six since I did not think the other levels produce a sufficient amount of texts for me to elaborate my research. The objectives of my action research were to find appropriate ways of correcting texts and providing feedback to students in order to answer the question: how can a teacher provide effective feedback to ESL students’ written assignments? Given that, students in cycle three had targeted competencies to achieve. I focused my action research on competency 3. They also developed other competencies as I elaborated my action research. In addition, they developed many cross-curricular competencies such as to use creativity, to adopt effective work methods, to cooperate with others and to communicate appropriately. Moreover, they used strategies like cooperation, self-monitoring, use of prior knowledge and using resources. My action research took place during a period of three months from approximately January to March. As I had predicted, some adjustments had to be made especially with the regular groups. Unfortunately, I encountered complications during my action research. I was not able to follow the curriculum I had planned since students were weak in English and did not produce a sufficient amount of writing. However, I came up with a solution that allowed to reduce the amount of writing done by the students and to use a few correction methods as planned. Firstly, students did a pen pal project so they wrote letters and secondly they had irregular verb tests in which they had to write sentences. As part of my grade six curriculum, I wanted students to have pen pals. Therefore, I talked about my project idea with the principal of the school Saint-David, Mrs. Guylaine Croteau and she approved it. At that moment, I contacted the principal of the school Centre scolaire Étoile de l’Acadie in Sydney Nova Scotia and he approved. Then, I contacted the English teacher Mrs. Lorna MacDonald and she accepted to take part in my project.
    • 15 Writing pen pals has numerous benefits in today’s society. Nowadays, students do not send letters by mail neither do they receive any. Instead, they use various other communication methods such as, email, text message, Facebook, and cell phone. Therefore, the postal mail is not necessary anymore. In the postal mail, we receive bills and junk mail but rarely personal letters. According to Silva Payne, Most people are more accessible than ever before, so what reason could there be for sitting down with paper and pen, and actually handwriting a letter to someone? The excitement and curiosity it provokes when that letter arrives is reason enough. Teaching children the value of correspondence along with good handwriting and composition skills, by means of a very tangible action such as having a pen pal can be a great inspiration to them. It can be carried out as a group activity, where one class makes a connection with a similar age group of children in a school overseas, so that the letters can be sent regularly and all together in a parcel from teacher to teacher. (Payne, 2010) To introduce my project to my students I did a reading comprehension (Appendix 1) in which there was four letters from pen pals. We read the letters together and then they had to answer questions. This activity gave them examples of letters which they followed when they wrote their own letter. After that, I got them to fill out a sheet called introducing yourself (Appendix 1). Basically, they had to fill in the blanks with information about themselves. Then, they had complete sentences that described them. Then, I elicited with them the definition of a pen pal according to dictionary.com; a pen pal is a person with whom one keeps up an exchange of letters, usually someone so far away that a personal meeting is unlikely. A pen pal can become a friend made and kept in contact through correspondence – emails, letters, Windows Live. Then, I presented Sydney Nova Scotia and the school that students exchanged with. Following that, I taught them the writing format of a letter and an envelope. I showed them an example of a letter using the projector and an envelope using the board and I guided them throughout their writing process. For homework, they had to bring a picture of themselves to school in order to send it to their pen pal. Some of them did not really understand the concept of having a pen pal
    • 16 at first so they did not want to send their picture to a stranger. Others, were prohibited by their parents, therefore, only a few sent their picture. Once the students were done their draft letter, they had to come show it to me. As I was pressed for time, I realized that it was easier to directly correct their letter. (Appendix 4) With stronger students, I told them their mistakes orally and they corrected them in front of me. I gave general comments to all students. After, they had to write their final copy. When the letters were completed, I asked the secretary of the school to send them. Since it was a school project, all the mailing was done and paid for by the school. The letters were sent anonymously since students did not have the name of their pen pals. I asked Mrs. MacDonald, to give the letters to any students. I did not match the students according to their gender. I let destiny decide which pen pal they had. The only pitfall was that I have 27 students and the class students were corresponding with had 24 students. Therefore, some students had the same pen pal and a few students in Sydney had two pen pals from my class. After waiting patiently, I received the response letters on March 9. I decided to change my planning for that day to give the letters to students. I planned one class to let my students read their letter, share with their classmates and start writing their reply letter. For homework, they had to present their pen pal to their parents. During the next class, I asked my students to finish writing to their pen pal. It was the first time that I saw a group of students so motivated to write. They wrote great letters in a short period, I corrected them and they wrote their final copy. After that, I created a big poster entitled: We would like to present to you our pen pal from Sydney Nova Scotia. I also included a map of Canada, highlighted Nova Scotia, and added a bigger map of Nova Scotia on which I highlighted Sydney in order for everyone to know where our pen pals were from. Then, I asked my students to glue the picture of their pen pals and write their pen pal’s
    • 17 name under. Once it was completed, I placed the poster on the wall in the hallway to show everyone in the school the project in which students took part. My students enjoyed this project and I recommend every ESL teacher to include pen pal exchanges in their curriculum. Receiving a real letter that someone sat down, thought about, and wrote with just you in mind is something that does not happen very often so why not provide it to our students. Once my practicum was over, my associate-teacher took over the project and he is going to continue to get students to exchange letters until the end of the year. Another possibility would have been to get students to correspond by email or even chat together. It makes it difficult since the access to the computer lab is limited and because some websites are not accessible at school because the school board banned them. As part of my curriculum, I also wanted students to learn their irregular verbs. While they learned them, they were reinvesting their understanding and writing. First, I taught them that English verbs have a base form, simple past and past participle. For most of the verbs, regular verbs, the simple past and the past participle are spelled the same and are created by adding `ed` to the base form. However, there are many irregular verbs in the English language, which do not match this pattern. Those verbs are mostly unpredictable; it is hard to develop them as you talk. There are some patterns among them: spring-sprang, drink-drank, and blow-blew, know-knew, but it is still hard to use those patterns as rules. The only way to learn irregular verbs is to practice them and memorize them. Secondly, I gave my students a short list of the hundred most common/useful verbs, and asked them to learn it; they needed to study ten irregular verbs at a time. For homework, I suggested that they find the meaning of the word in French in order to be able to construct sentences that made sense. Afterwards, I suggested that they write ten sentences at the present and ten at the past. I did not verified if it was done; I told them it was their choice but that they should do it if they wanted to have a good
    • 18 mark. As I they wrote the test, I knew which students had done the homework I proposed because the ones who were not ready spent a lot of time constructing their sentences and using the dictionary. I also did spelling and pronunciation drills with the students. I divided the class in two and said an irregular verb aloud and one student of each team had to write it on the board. The first team who wrote the correct answer got a point. Since it was a competition, students were motivated and studied in order to not deceive their team. In addition, I exploited a teaching methodology known as Total Physical Response: TPR to practice the verbs. Basically, I said an irregular verb and students had to do the action. I think it allowed them to remember the signification of the verb more easily. I did this with the intensive group as well and I had the collaboration of the teacher since she verified if their homework was done every day. Every Tuesday, they had to hand in ten sentences at the present and Wednesday they had to hand it ten sentences at the past. (Appendix 4) This made an enormous difference in the marks and on the time that was taken to write the tests. All the students were prepared; most of them were done each test under fifteen minutes which is quick compared to the regular group who took about an hour, which is a whole class to write the first test. Another major difference was the fact that in the intensive group, one test was done each week which helped to establish a routine. In the regular group, one test was done by month since I had to do other activities with them. I only saw them three times in a cycle so my time with them was very limited compared to the intensive group. During the test (Appendix 2), students had to write sentences using the time, pronouns and verbs indicated. They could also use their dictionary. For each test, I gave a bonus point for the date, one point for each verb and one point for each the sentence. Students lost 0.5 if they forgot to put a period at the end of their sentence. (Appendix 4) For the first test, I corrected all their mistakes and underlined the verb tense if they used the wrong tense. I also underlined the pronoun `she`, `he`, `it` if they forgot to put an `s` at the end of their
    • 19 verb at the present tense. Even if I told them they had to put an `s` only at the present, some of them did not put it and others put an `s` at the past as well. Before the second test, I went over this notion again with them and some of them still managed to do the same mistake which proved that they either were not listening or that they did not understand the notion I taught. The result of the first test was awful for most of the students. Only a few students got a passing mark. I gave them their test back and asked them to look at their mistakes. I told them that their results should be higher on the next one since it was the same format. As a matter of fact, most of the results were higher except for a few students who got the same mark or a lower mark. Some students did not try at all. They thought that since I was only a student-teacher that I was not going to evaluate them for their report card so they did not apply themselves when they worked. With the intensive group, I was able to do what I had planned in the proposal as well as what I did with the regular group. My medium range planning is available in Appendix 1. I asked them to write three texts on various subjects. I used different methods to correct their written assignments. Following that, I compiled the results and compared the texts in order to see which of my methods were more constructive for students. I also had planned to ask students to fill out a questionnaire but I did not have time. Before I taught students how to write a text, I talked to the students’ homeroom teacher, to see which steps they learned to use for writing. Students transferred their prior knowledge and applied it in their writing process. First, I taught students the steps to follow in order to write a text. I provided them with a checklist with all the following aspects to focus on, as demonstrated in appendix 1. The first step was to prepare to write. Students needed to think of the instructions; take out the resources they needed such as books, dictionaries, bank of expressions and more; looked a the model provided by the teacher, wrote down ideas which was brainstorming and then put them in order in an outline. Refer to appendix
    • 20 1 to see an outline students needed to complete. The second step was to write a draft. Students needed to look at the model again, followed the instructions, used their ideas, wrote short sentences in English with a subject, verb and object; used the vocabulary and expressions known; and if they had, any problems they needed to ask for help. The third step was to revise the text. Students needed to ask themselves questions such as ``did I follow the instructions? Did I follow the model? Are my ideas original? `` Afterwards, they needed to check the spelling, the word order and punctuation with the resources they had as well as with a friend. The last step was to write the final copy of the text. Students needed to ask themselves questions such as ``is it ok? Is it neat? Is it easy to read? `` Next, I taught them how to decide their layout, which consisted of five paragraphs: an introduction, which included roughly three sentences. It contained about two sentences about the topic and one thesis sentence ``what are you going to write about in your text? `` Next, a body or development of three paragraphs of more or less five sentences each was needed. To complete their text, they needed a conclusion, which hold around three sentences. It rephrased the question, summarized the main ideas, gave their opinion, if they did not give it already and looked to the future by saying what will happen if the situation continues or change. All this needed to be done in just three sentences! The conclusion was the end of the text and it was the part that the reader may remember the most. It should be clear, and avoid confusing the reader, which was why you should never add new information. Each sentence had an average of about 12 words each, which made a text of about 252 words. It seemed like a big amount of words but in my experience, with intensive English grade 6 students, most of them could write long texts without any difficulties. Students were not motivated when they saw the amount of words they had to produce but when they started to write, they quickly realize that to write a story, they needed at least that amount of words. There was only two or three who were struggling to attain that quantity of words.
    • 21 Secondly, I explained to them how to revise and correct their work and reminded them about the sentence structure. I gave them strategies to edit and proofread their text such as correcting vocabulary errors, correcting grammar errors, correcting punctuation, and capitalization and editing to improve style. I also showed them how to look up words in the dictionary since a lot of them were not sure which word to take when they want to translate a word. (Appendix 1) I did this with the regular group as well. I started by explaining to them that in half of the dictionary they found words from English to French and the other half from French to English. Then, I told them to focus on one part, English to French. I taught them that the letter `A` was at the beginning of the section, `C` at the ¼, `M` at the ½, `S` at the ¾ and `Z` at the ending. I tried to show them not to start at the beginning of the section if they were looking for a word that started with an `S`, in order to save time, they should open the dictionary directly at the ¾ part. After, I got them to find the word `coat` in the dictionary. I explained each part of the definition and showed them what was important to look for. I showed them that the first thing they see is the transcription for the phonetic alphabet. After, it is indicated if the word is a noun, verb, adjective or adverb. Then, I told them that some words, like `coat`, have many definitions such as 1: manteau; (plus court) veste; 2: a coat of paint/ une couche de peinture. I told them to use their logic and criticize what was the right translation for coat. I also shared with them that they will get used to using the dictionary and that finding a word will become a fast process. Thirdly, I showed them the grading scale I used which is the same one the Mels provided to teachers for the correction of their ministry exams. I decided to use that scale because I found it easy to use and straightforward. It allowed me to be equal with all the students’ texts. As you will see in appendix 1, the scale is divided in three sections. Once I read a text, I read the first question in the scale and answered it. As you will see, they are all yes and no questions that allows the teacher to answer easily without too much questioning. Once all the questions answered, a level is given to the text.
    • 22 Fourthly, I gave them a subject and precisions such as the number of words and the amount of time they had to complete their text. For the strong students, I increased the amount of words that was required. I explained to them that since they were strong, they had the ability to create a text of a greater length. According to my experience, students who were strong enjoyed writing and did not mind to submit a bigger amount of words. It allowed them to express their ideas with a rich variety of words. For the weaker ones, I proposed to them to come to remedial English at lunchtime, either after school or even on a pedagogical day in order to finish their text. I was also more present for them since writing was harder for them. Given that I planned to make students write a few texts, many subjects were given to students such as: The Mount Mercury Adventure, What would you do if you won 9 million dollars? and what will you do in fifteen years? For the first subject, students needed to write a narrative text in groups. (Appendix 4) Students were guided throughout a process to stimulate their imagination. The Mount Mercury Adventure was a writing project where students created a narrative based on a very simple structure. To start with, I taught target language such as in the beginning, first, next, after that, afterward, while, as, before long, finally, in the end. After, I reviewed the past tense: simple past and/or past perfect as well as adjectives. The written project required at least five periods. It gave time to students to process the information, write their story, make changes and type it on the computer. It also allowed them to correct their story and rewrite it. The materials needed for each group were a model of a story, a map, a hero sheet, an obstacle sheet, and a storyboard. All the materials are available in appendix 1. As far as the planning, I did almost all I had planned. First, I had the students read an example of a story. I gave one map to each group as well as a hero and obstacle sheet. I explained that they were
    • 23 going to create a story using this map as a guideline. First, they had to choose, gave their hero a name, and names to any other characters. Second, they decided upon a reason for him/her to be going to Mt. Mercury. I explained that on the way to Mt. Mercury their hero needed three major obstacles. I discussed some possibilities as a class (giant spider attack, giants from the mountains, a lake of fire, a waterfall and more). I had the groups decide upon three obstacles from the discussion period or on their own. Students began creating their storyboard. They elaborated on the events and created their story. When they got to the temple at Mt. Mercury, they brought the story to any conclusion they wanted. Once completed, they reviewed the target language and I asked students to go back and try to improve the flow of the story. I asked the students to type their story on the computer and they used the correction tools provided. However, before hand, I taught them how to be critical of Spelling & Grammar check on Microsoft Word or on translation websites. I recommended them to use an online dictionary. I asked them to insert pictures related to the story and to print their story, read it, correct it, and hand it in. While correcting, I noticed that many students were able to find their own mistakes. I underlined the mistakes that were not found and they brought the modifications to their story on the computer. As a follow up, I had the students tell their story to the class using their storyboard. This made the writing project more communicative. I could also have posted their stories in the classroom or asked the students read their story to younger students in the school. All kinds of follow up were possible; but the time limited the project. For the second and third subject, students needed to write texts individually. In one of them, they needed to use the future tense and the other, the conditional to write which is why I reviewed the tenses with the students prior to the writing. The subject was written on the board and students were guided toward the writing process taught previously.
    • 24 Once they were completed their writing process, I had planned to ask students to fill out a self- evaluation (appendix 1) but I forgot. Answering these questions would have allowed students to reflect on their performance. Questions 1 and 2 ask students to evaluate successful and unsuccessful aspects of their papers. Both of these questions seek to uncover students` developing awareness of their intentions and to ascertain how accurately and specifically they are able to explain these intentions. Questions 3 and 4 ask students what aspects of writing the paper were easier and more difficult. I believe these two questions prompt students to think about changes that may be occurring in their composing processes. The correction methods that were used are the following: first, as the students were writing, I read parts of their writing and gave immediate feedback to the students. Some of them enjoyed this method but others were disturbed when I looked over their shoulder and they froze which meant that they were losing writing time. After doing that, I corrected students’ text using a rubric (appendix 1). While I used this rubric, I corrected every mistake with a red pen. I also had planned to label the characteristics of students writing skills using a rubric such as in appendix 1 but I did not do it. While correcting, I gathered mistakes that were made often by many students and brought it to the attention of the class. This way, other students benefited from it and learned from others mistakes. After that, I handed back their text and gave them time to read and reflect on their results and mistakes. I was also available to answer their questions. I could also have asked them to rewrite their text and include the corrections that were made but I did not. Since students were expected to write two texts individually, I asked them to refer to their first text done individually while they were correcting their second text. I thought this method allowed them to recognize their mistakes and not reproduce them. In other words, they had a corrected text as a resource to follow. For the second text, my correction method was supposed to vary since I had planned to only underline the mistakes and then ask students to correct them. However, on the day of the writing activity, I substitute teacher replaced me and she corrected the texts using the same method
    • 25 I had used previously. I was not expecting her to correct them. If I would have known, I would have specified how I wanted it done. I was also considering other methods such as to use abbreviations while correcting to let students know which type of mistakes they made. I believed this method might be too difficult for grade six students to understand but will keep it in mind for secondary students. As mentioned in the review of the literature, the three traditional approaches to rate learners writing are holistic, analytic, and objective scoring. I used the holistic scoring method since I based myself on whether or not the text was understandable. However, I also corrected every mistake but did not count them to attribute a score. If I would have done that, most students would have failed since even the stronger students made minor mistakes. I did not use analytic scoring method because I believe that it is time consuming for the teacher. I already used this method to evaluate projects and oral presentations but never for writing. I will develop a scoring grid for writing and assessing text using this method. I used the objective scoring method for stronger students. I asked them to write longer texts but stopped correcting their mistakes once I got to the 250th word. I believe it is fair to all the students. However, since I was asking for a specific amount of words, I found that the students focus too much on counting them. They wrote one paragraph and then counted the words and as soon as they got to 250 words, they stopped their text, besides the strongest ones who were instructed to continue. So, asking for a specific number of words motivate students who tend to write short texts and discourage the one who tend to use their imagination and produce long texts. The students’ texts provided information to be shared. For that reason, the texts were put in the students’ portfolios in order for parents to see them during parent-teacher night and for students to refer to them when needed. I was not present during that night since my practicum was over but I am sure that parents enjoyed seeing their child’s assignments.
    • 26 I found out that the level of English of students varied greatly. Therefore, it was almost impossible to use the same correction method for all the students. Some of them did not understand my correction so how could I have expected them to do better and correct their own sentences or texts. I was astonished by the correction students did as a group and by how letting them correct their own mistakes helped in encouraging students to use English rather than to worry about making too many mistakes. As I predicted, there were a number of common mistakes that learners face such as spelling and structure. I realized that mistakes are an important of life. I tried to transmit the importance of making mistakes to students. I told them that mistakes are the stepping stone to learning. It is like anything we learn or are learning, we make mistakes until we get used to the technique or skill. We do not get everything right on the first time and sometimes we need to be corrected. In order to improve their English language skills, students need to have a good understanding of what they are doing wrong. Being able to recognize the mistakes they are making early on in their English language studies will help them to correct those mistakes and avoid bad habits in the future. By allowing students to make mistakes, I reinforced the errors they were making. I felt that if I did not correct mistakes immediately, I would be helping to reinforce incorrect language production skills. This point of view was also reinforced by students who often expected me to continually correct. The failure to do so often created suspicion on the part of the students. If I did not allow students to make mistakes, I would have taken away from the natural learning process required to achieve the writing competency. Learning a language is a long process during which a learner inevitably makes many mistakes. In other words ESL students take a multitude of tiny steps going from not writing a language to being fluent in the language. According to some students,
    • 27 the ones who are continually corrected become inhibited and cease to participate. This resulted in the exact opposite of I try to produce, the use of English and motivation. In the regular group, I did not have enough time to teach strategies and I realized that my criteria were not clear enough. I thought that students understood the task that they had to do but when I was correcting, I realized that some of them did not understand at all my explanations. I did not really do my research action with the appropriate level. I will pursue it in high school eventually in my career. Since I corrected all the mistakes one of my hypotheses was that it might be confusing for students. Some of them tried so hard to write a sentence or a text and they got sad and upset when they received their work back. In the future, I ought to focus on one, two, or three main errors and correct only those which is call a selective correction. In this case, I decide to correct only certain errors. Which errors will be corrected is usually decided by the objectives of the lesson, or the specific exercise that is being done at that moment. In other words, if students are focusing on simple past irregular forms, then only mistakes in those forms are corrected (i.e., goed, thinked, ...). Other mistakes, such as mistakes in a future form are ignored. I could let the students know which grammar point will be corrected. Therefore, they can pay attention to that grammar point when they are writing. Using this method, will not penalize students for other mistakes they do apart from the grammar point demanded. My second hypothesis was that I was hoping to help the weaker students more but I realized that my methods were easier for stronger students to understand. Basically, it was the opposite that happened. I helped the stronger ones. I think it was because they were more motivated and that they already understood the basic of the English language, which made it easier for them to grasp their mistakes and not reproduce them. It was easier for them to learn more and get better. Some were motivated to get better grades but others did not care since they knew that they were doing better than most of the students.
    • 28 Results I did the planning I described above and then I collected some assignments from the students. I gathered tests, letters, stories and texts. Some were drafts others were final copies. I got some original copies and photocopies since I had to leave some assignments to the students. First, let’s focus on the research I did with the regular group. I got them to write letters, Appendix 4, and I decided to correct their mistakes with a pencil and asked them to correct it and come back to show it to me. I think this method was useful since students had to look at my correction, remember it, erase it, and then copy it. After, I was convinced that their letter did not have any mistakes unless they did not follow what I told them. Since they knew that a student from another school would read it, they did the best they could to correct it. They wrote their final copy and I did not need to have another look at their letter. When they wrote their second letter, they were answering questions that their pen pal had asked them. Most students did not ask for my help because they knew how to write a letter. They only came to me when they were finished in order to be corrected. They did fewer mistakes in their second letter. When I corrected their second letter, I underlined their mistakes and asked students to correct their mistakes. For the stronger ones, it was easier to see the mistakes they made but for the weaker ones, it was an endless process because even if they had access to a dictionary, they seemed to be struggling. Some of them came back to me having in mind that they had properly corrected their mistakes, which was not the case. I told them it was still wrong and they were frustrated they had to start over. At this moment, I asked stronger students to help the weaker ones. This method helped me a lot to save time. I hope they will continue to write letters and that they will remember the format. Now, let’s focus on the irregular verb test. I decided to focus on eight students of various levels. The average for the first test was 49%. The average for the second test was 60%. I am convinced that
    • 29 the average of the next tests would have been higher. Their results are in an irregular verb test grid in appendix 3 and a few tests are in appendix 4. The first student was bilingual. He was confident therefore, he told me he did not need to study. I was expecting him to perform well. Like a native speaker, he used irregular verbs but had a hard time when it came to put one specific verb at the past. I related to him since I went through that same thing. I thought I knew my grammar but when it came to exercises, I had a hard time since I learned how to speak it before writing it. Even if he only got 60% on the first test, he clearly did not study for the second test even if he got a score of 72, 5 %. I thought he would have studied for the second one to get a better grade but he did not care at all. He knew that he did better than most of the students and did not bother studying. The aspects that got better were that he did not forget to put his period at the end of each sentence and he made less spelling mistakes in nouns. He lost more points for the verbs on the second test and got more points for the sentences. It showed that he took into consideration my correction and tried not to reproduce the same mistakes. It proved that as a strong student he progressed using the corrections I had done. The second student, Appendix 4, got bad results on the two tests, 30% on the first one and worst results on his second test 20%. Before the second test, I sat down with him and explained his mistakes and told him what he should have done. He did not ask me any questions and when I asked him if he understood he said `yes`. Once I corrected his second test, I clearly saw that he still did not understand since he made a lot of similar mistakes. Since a shorter amount of time was attributed to write the second test, he did not have time to write his last four sentences. He also had an attitude problem that influenced him. He knew he was not good in English and did not try at all. He did not care that he was not passing. I talked about it with his homeroom teacher and learned that he did not performed well either in his class. I also noticed that he made a lot of mistakes when he wrote in French because he wrote a note in French on the test. He wrote `verbe: doit se fénire par S quant il est devant he/she/it just
    • 30 au présent`. He did not write correctly in his first language so how could I expect him to write correctly in his second language. The third student, Appendix 4, got 20% on the first test and improved to 62, 5% on the second test. After the first test, I clearly saw that she did not know which verb to use. I showed her that the verb was written at the infinitive and that she had to write it either at the present or past. I also explained to her that she did not need to use the verb to have like she had done in the first test. She did fewer mistakes in her verb which meant she understood my corrections and learned how to use irregular verbs. Other than that, she did spelling mistakes she could have avoided by looking them up in the dictionary. The fourth student improved her mark but did not get a passing grade on either of her tests. She got 12, 5% and a better mark on the second one, 45%. As I was observing the results and the correction I did, I realized that I was not as strict on the second test. I wanted their score to be higher and I did not want to discourage them completely because I knew that some students, like her, were very disappointed on their first mark. Instead of removing one point for each sentence if there was a mistake, I removed only 0.5. I noticed that this student had trouble with her verbs. On the first test, she wrote one verb correctly. She confused the verb tense. I had a talk with her and explained her which verb to use for each sentence. On the second test, she wrote a `to` in front of each verb as if it was at the infinitive. I told her it was not necessary to write the `to` in front of the verb. I am convinced she would have done better on the next test. The fifth student got the same mark on the tests, 32, and 5 %. He had no motivation at all in class. He sat down beside a student who was bilingual and could have used him to progress but instead, he just lost his time and kept saying ``j’comprend rien en anglais. `` He was not motivated and did not believe in the fact that he could become better in English. He gave up on himself and did not pay attention to my corrections.
    • 31 The sixth student, Appendix 4, was a great example of hard work and improvement. She got 95% on her first test which meant that she made one mistake and got 105% on her second test which is more than a perfect score since she got a bonus point for writing the date correctly. He results showed that she did not reproduce the same mistakes twice. The seventh student asked me a lot of questions when I explained that they had to study irregular verbs and then write a test. She understood and clearly was well prepared to write it. She got 95% on the first test. Her mark was lower on the second test, 85%, but it was not because she did not look at my corrections. It was due to the fact that she wrote different words in which she made spelling mistakes. She could have used her dictionary to correct herself. Her mark was still above the average. The eighth and last student spoke Spanish and no French. Therefore, he was learning his second language which is French as well as his third language, English. At first, I did not really know what to ask him to do. But, as far as the verb test, I got him to write the irregular verbs according to the tense. I allowed him to use his irregular verb list which I did not allowed others to do. When it came to correct him, I had to change my method since I could not give him a mark for each sentence. Instead of marking him on 20, I marked him on 10 and gave him 1 point for each verb that was written correctly. Even if he had the list, he did mistakes; he got a 7 on 10. He got 4 mistakes and a bonus point for writing the date correctly. During the second test, he was absent. So, I was not able to compare his results and his progress. As you can see, my research had different impacts on students. They learned differently and were at various levels when it comes to English which was why they did not all react the same way to my corrections. I hope they learned from my corrections and that they learned how to write sentences. It is an ability that will serve them in the future.
    • 32 Second, let’s focus on the research I have done with the intensive group. After I corrected their texts, Appendix 4, I put their marks in a grid (Appendix 3) in order to compare if there was any improvement. I then noticed that only four students got a lower grade on the second text which meant that most of them did better. 15% of the students got a lower mark, 44% got the same grade which meant that their texts were similar, and 33% got a better mark. As you can see in the 1st circular graphic in Appendix 3, on the first text, four students got A+, twelve A, one A-, three B+, three B, three C, and one C-. These marks showed that all the students passed the writing assignment. Since the intensive students were asked to write these texts at the end of the program, most of them were strong in English and had the ability to write well structured texts. On the second text, fives students got A+, eleven A, one A-, three B, three B-, one C+, one C, and one E (Appendix 3). Most students got a better score, some got the same score and one student did not submit her second text since she finished her first text instead of doing the second one. She was a weak student and did not follow the same rhythm as the others. I focused on four students of various levels. The first one was strong in English, the second one was weak, the third one was in between and the fourth one was not motivated to write more than one text. The first student made fewer mistakes when he was writing alone. In the story written in teams there was many mistakes that he did not reproduce when he was writing alone. Or maybe it meant that he understood my corrections and did not do the same mistakes again. His teammate was possibly writing and he was dictating what to write without paying attention to spelling mistakes, I did not notice. Perhaps he did not concentrate in a team and worked better alone. He got A+ on both texts written individually. He separated his first text with paragraphs like he was instructed to, it was well structured. The 2nd text was written as if it was only one paragraph and it was more spontaneous which means that he wrote as if he was talking. I gave him the same mark since his texts did not need any
    • 33 interpretations even if he did minor mistakes. In his 1st text, he got about 18 mistakes on 307 words and in his 2nd text, only 7 mistakes on 276 words. In both of them, he forgot to capitalize some of the pronouns `I`. But, curiously at times it was written correctly. I concluded that he took into consideration my corrections which are why he made fewer mistakes. Once he read his corrected text, I am convinced that he understood the mistakes he had done since he was a strong student. The second student decided to do the narrative story alone. Since she had a model to follow, it was easy for her to construct a story. However, when she wrote a text and only had the subject and the amount of words to follow, it was difficult for her. A lot of words were missing in her texts and some words made no sense in the context. She looked up words in the dictionary and wrote a translation without looking at the proper meaning in English. I corrected mistakes she did repetitively. It seemed as if even if I corrected her and taught her using a different method, she never acquired the correction I was trying to fix. She learned differently and it took her a longer time to grasp my corrections. However, she evolved greatly since she could not even write a sentence. She went a long way since the beginning. The third student story was hard to interpret and confusing, which showed that he did not work well with his partner. After correcting it, I asked them to type it. They were more serious and followed my corrections carefully. Once it was done, their story made a lot more sense. On his 1st text, he got B and wrote only 114 words which meant that he did not follow the instruction of 250 words. He also used French words instead of looking for the translation in the dictionary. On the 2nd text he got A- and it had more words but still did not achieve the number of words that was asked. I realized that I did not penalize him for the lack of words, I only wrote a comment saying that it was not long enough. In both of the texts, he made many mistakes in the verbs. I do not think my corrections had an impact on him. He just did not care and clearly did not try hard enough.
    • 34 The fourth student obtained an A on his first text which was a satisfying result and he did not think it was necessary to apply himself when he was asked to write the second text. Therefore, his first written production was very well written, the second one was terrible according to the potential of the student but was still acceptable since he got a C. He did not take the time to review his mistakes since his score was satisfying to him. Even if I told him that it counted, it did not matter to him. He had no motivation at all and did not pay any attention to the modifications I brought to his texts. I concluded that students have different ways of learning. Some took the time to read the corrections and did not make the same mistake twice because they acquired new knowledge and understood it. Others did not even take the time to look over the corrections. I do not think that one correction method can reach all the students. In order to gather opinions from many ESL teachers, I created a questionnaire (Appendix 2). I was curious to see what teachers thought about writing. I have my thoughts on the subject and I realized that I might be expecting too much from the students especially when it comes to writing. Elisabeth Magerlein, a teacher at the CEGEP de Sherbrooke, brought to my attention that students in the Basic English class at the CEGEP de Sherbrooke were expected to only write a text of 250 words. (Appendix 3) This means that secondary students are expected to write even less. Basically, I got elementary students to write as many words as a CEGEP student is expected to produce. Ann George, a teacher at the CEGEP de Sherbrooke, had a similar observation to mine. For the past 14 years at the Cegep, every time she corrected a writing assignment, she used a code. She handed back the paper and told the students that it was their responsibility to correct their errors to make sure that they were learning something. Quite often, she found the papers in the trash can! If she was lucky, maybe three or four good students actually made the effort to concentrate on their mistakes. This year, she tried something different. Her students were told that correcting must be done in class, that it
    • 35 had to be handed back to her, and that they could not sit in the final writing exam unless they had made their corrections. This meant that they rewrote all the incorrect sentences on a special sheet that she provided, they encircled the errors, and then they rewrote the whole sentence with the corrections encircled. She kept the corrected sheets, made a file for each student, and handed the files back just before the writing exam. She did this three times, which meant three hours less on other things. I think her method was useful and innovative. I will definitely consider her method later on during my career. Her reflection made me realize that students do not pay attention to their teachers’ correction even at the CEGEP level and at university. Principal effects of the research on professional development Conducting an action research and teaching at the same time is not an easy task. Nevertheless, I managed it even if I had to modify my planning along the way. At first, I concentrated on my practicum and then I realized that I should start getting my students to write and gather data. I concluded that getting students to write in regular grade 6 is a lot harder compared to students in Intensive English. Most of the students in the regular group were not prepared for what I expected of them. They did not do much writing with their teacher so it made my task more difficult. Some of them had no clue how to write a sentence in English, some had a lack of vocabulary while, others had the ability to write and wrote well structured sentences but did not try hard enough. Those who were more advanced wrote basic and short sentences even if it was easy for them to elaborate. If one day I teach at the elementary level, I will teach my students how to write basic sentences as soon as in cycle one. If the writing competency is developed earlier on, students might get better scores and might be more motivated to write. I do not believe that my research had a big impact on students. I wish it would have, but it did not. If I had spent more time which each group, it would have probably made a bigger impact.
    • 36 Although I am sure that I managed to teach some students how to be critical of their writing, most of those students were stronger in English and understood quickly what they mistakes were. I only had to underline the mistake and they would correct it right away. To continue my professional development, I need to find innovative ways to get students to write. For example, ask students to write a postcard to someone and then the teacher (me) plays the mailman and replies. Afterwards, the students can write back and the activity goes on. I think students should be drilled with short writing tasks in order to make them enjoy it. Once students will be motivated to write, hopefully, they will look forward to writing and not see it as a boring task. I also need to come up with a few easy steps to follow when writing. I need to develop strategies and a routine I could use with my students every time I ask them to write. As I performed my action research, I kept in mind that error correction should be helpful and lead to better learning, not become a huge burden on the students and I. Correction needs to take place, and is expected and desired by students. However, the manner in which teachers correct students plays a vital role in whether students become confident in their usage. I viewed error correction as a necessary and important part of student learning, not just testing. I will definitely pursue my research throughout my career, especially at the secondary level. I will push my future students to write as soon as they can and as much as they can. I find it wonderful to be able to express myself in two languages and I would like to transmit this ability to all my future students. Learning a language is a rewarding experience that could influence a lifetime.
    • 37 References Bailey, K. (1998). Learning about language assessment: Dilemmas, decisions and directions. Pacific Grove, California: Heinle & Heinle Publishers. Beach, R. (1976). Self-evaluation strategies of extensive revisers and non-revisers. College Composition and Communication, 27, 160-164. Bereiter, C. & Scardamalia, M. (1987). The psychology of written composition. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. Bitchener, J., Young, S., & Cameron, D. (2005). The Effect of Different Types of Corrective Feedback on ESL Student Writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14(3), 191-205. Retrieved September 17 2009. British Columbia Ministry of Education (1999). English as a Second Language Learners : A Guide for Classroom Teachers. Special Programs Branch. Chandler, 2003 J. Chandler, The efficacy of various kinds of error feedback for improvement in the accuracy and fluency of L2 student writing, Journal of Second Languag Writing 12 (2003), pp. 267–296. College International Marie de France (2009). Anglais Intensif. Retrieve March 14, 2010, from http://www.mariedefrance.qc.ca/siteweb/documents/ anglaisintensif.pdf Dana R. Ferris & John S. Hedgcock. (2004) Teaching ESL Composition: Purpose, Process, and Practice. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Mahwah, NJ. Publication. Fathman and Whalley, 1990 A. Fathman and E. Whalley, Teacher response to student writing: Focus on form versus content. In: B. Kroll, Editor, Second language writing: Research insights for the classroom, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1990), pp. 178– 190. Ferris, 1999 D.R. Ferris, The case for grammar correction in L2 writing classes. A response to Truscott (1996), Journal of Second Language Writing 8 (1999), pp. 1–10. Gouvernement du Québec (2003). The elementary English as a Second Language (ESL) Program. Programme de formation de l’école québécoise. Québec : Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport. 351-362. Gouvernement du Québec (2003). Secondary Cycle One ESL programs: Core ESL and Enriched ESL. Programme de formation de l’école québécoise. Québec : Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport. 579-631. Gouvernement du Québec (2003). Secondary Cycle Two ESL programs: Core and Enriched.
    • 38 Programme de formation de l’école québécoise. Québec : Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport. 1-56. MEQ, RCCPALS, SPEAQ (2003). L’anglais Intensif pour l’apprentissage de la langue seconde. Retrieve March 14, 2010, from http://www.speaq.qc.ca/ pdf/intensive _francais11juin03.pdf Payne, Silva. Writing pen pals has numerous benefits in today's society. Retrieve February 12, 2010 from http://www.helium.com/items/1597558-does-having-pen-pals-have-any-real-benefits Shum, K. E. Mark. Effects of Four Methods of Evaluation of Chinese Composition in Hong Kong Secondary Schools. Peer checklist at a closer look. The University of Hong Kong, China. Williams, G. Jason. (2003). Providing Feedback on ESL Students` Written Assignments. Retrieve September 7, 2009, from http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Williams-Feedback.html Woodhouse, Ros & Page Joan. (2006). Strategies for Assessing and Giving Feedback to ESL Learners. Retrieve September 29, 2009, from http://www.yorku.ca/cst/ faculty/ nfty/ resources/nfty_assessment-esl.ppt#