Author Topic: WebBoard assignment  (Read 7458 times)

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Offline shanson1

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WebBoard assignment
« on: February 11, 2006, 06:23:34 PM »
I don't have an original idea for this, but am instead sharing what the Spanish department here at UIUC does in all of its 100-level Spanish courses.  The following is taken from the syllabus for Spanish 141: Introduction to Spanish Grammar:

... you will use WebBoard to write to your classmates and your instructor in Spanish.  WebBoard provides you with the opportunity to communicate your ideas at your own pace in written Spanish and to practice the grammatical structures learned in Mallard in an extended writing format.

You will be required to post one message per week for a total of 6 messages for the semester.  Here is how it works:
1.  The class will be divided into 4 groups composed of a number of students and the TA.  You will interact only with the people within your own group.
2.  A week prior to the due date, the TA will post the first message within each group.  This message addresses the assigned topic for the week.
3.  The next person to log on to WebBoard is required to read the TA's message and to respond to it.
4.  All remaining members who log on thereafter are required to read the TA's message as well as any messages posted on that week by other group members and to write a single response.

In the response:
-- You should react to the views expressed by other members in your group on the same topic.
-- Note there is a minimum length for the essays to get credit: entries must be at least 150 words long and written completely in Spanish.  Lists of words, songs, dialogs, and copies of other texts are not acceptable messages and will not receive credit.  Copying from your instructor's model or from another group member's posting will result in a grade of zero for that posting.  Remember that this is individual graded work, so students are not allowed to seek help from other instructors, friends, etc. or use electronic translators.
-- Your response should be posted as follows: [specific directions for posting on WebBoard]

The messages you post will be read by your instructor and by other members of your group.  WebBoard is not private.  After the deadline, your instructor will evaluate your message using the grading criteria below.  Please remember that late postings, messages not posted as specified above, or postings consisting of less than the minimum number of words will not receive credit.

GRADING CRITERIA:
95 or 100 points:  Addresses the topic assigned, uses a wide variety of vocabulary, control of grammar is above what would be considered typical for this level.

85 or 90 points:  addresses the topic assigned, uses a wide variety of vocabulary, control of grammar is what would be considered typical for this level.

75 or 80 points:  addresses the topic assigned, uses some variety of vocabulary, control of grammar is less than what would be considered typical for this level.

65 or 70 points:  addresses the topic, uses only minimal variety of vocabulary, control of grammar is significantly below what would be considered typical for this level.

0 points:  does not address the topic; lists words, sentences, songs or copies other text; posting is less than 150 words, late or is not posted according to the guidelines.


I found this practice good because it provided opportunities to practice reading and writing in Spanish, provided a communicative context for utilizing the grammar structures we had been learning in class, and generally provided topics meaningful to students as we were to write about our own opinions or experiences.  For example, one topic was something about describing our best friends, how we met, what we do together, etc.  Another topic was discussing whether TV was good or bad, how much TV we watch each week, what kinds of shows we watch, etc.  A third topic was our opinion on online dating -- is it good, dangerous, etc.  I also liked that we not only received a writing prompt (generally 1 or 2 paragraphs with some background information and then a series of questions posed to us), but we also had a sample response written by our instructor.  This was useful in providing some vocabulary or phrases for us to use, and it modeled the grammatical structures (such as past tense, future, etc.).

What I found frustrating about this is that we received no feedback on our writing.  I know my postings were loaded with grammatical errors or vocabulary that I didn't use in quite the right way, but no one pointed that out to me.  If the purpose of these assignments is to "communicate [my] ideas at [my] own pace in written Spanish... in an extended format," then this assignment met that purpose.  However, since we were also supposed to "practice the grammatical structures learned in [class]," then it would have been nice to receive feedback on those structures.  I'm not sure that a message board is the appropriate format for this latter objective, as it's tricky for an instructor to provide individual feedback in a public forum.  But in terms of building fluency and providing practice, these assignments worked well.

Stephanie

jinongster

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Re: WebBoard assignment
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2006, 05:02:06 PM »
hmm...seems like they're using the web borad for a very constructive and conducive way. the topics seem quite engaging in that they can generate lots of personal talks (opinions and such), and not too difficult to talk about. i definitely agree with your concern, stephanie, about the lack of feedback on the accuracy of individuall postings. it would've been another arena of learning had there been corrections or comments.

one small thing that i have a slightly different point of view than yours is the publicizing the personal feedback. you said:
Quote
I'm not sure that a message board is the appropriate format for this latter objective, as it's tricky for an instructor to provide individual feedback in a public forum.  But in terms of building fluency and providing practice, these assignments worked well.

i do agree with the possible trickiness from the teacher's perspective, but i think reading the instructor's comments on other people's postings can also be a great learning opportunities for students, since they can learn by observing other people's grammarical errors and how they are treated ;D

Julieta

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Re: WebBoard assignment
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2006, 09:27:33 PM »

In terms of feedback, I have some ideas about possible solutions  :-\. I don't know how big your Spanish class was, but since all of you had to do a total of six postings throughout the semester, the instructor could have chosen the most salient, recurrent errors and explained what the source of the error was and how to fix it. This needn't be in the same board, maybe he could have printed out copies and given them to you in class (maybe pointing to outside resources or your textbook). I don't know how often you met (I'm assuming twice a week), but he could have chosen to provide feedback to different groups each week (maybe spend a couple of minutes in class going over some of her/his comments while the rest had already started with the activity of the day). Another idea is to address as a class general issues that came up in all of the postings and that are common to all students (such as the use of "un otro tema" o incorrect use of articles).

I also have some questions about the topics. Were these related to discussions you had in class or connected to your readings? It is stated that you couldn't copy from anybody else, ask friends or use translators. How did you acquire or find the vocabulary you needed? Were you able to provide feedback to your groupmates?

Very interesting post, Thanks!
Julie

   

Offline shanson1

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Re: WebBoard assignment
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2006, 10:36:10 AM »
Juli - the topics were not always related to discussions or readings that we had done in class, but sometimes there was a little overlap.  As for finding vocabulary, I used a good old-fashioned dictionary, and my 501 Spanish Verbs book.  :)
Stephanie

Lisa

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Re: WebBoard assignment
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2006, 09:27:05 PM »
I like it! I agree that this is great writing practice regardless of any other drawbacks mentioned.

I wonder how to increase the interaction between the students.  Do you go back and read other students' posts if they post after you?  It seems like you don't have to so if you post early you can have an easier job of it.   It would be nice if several posts per topic were required-or at least encouraged. 

This is a concern with boards in general though.  It isn't always easy to follow a thread all the way through and lots of things get missed or repeated. 

Offline shanson1

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Re: WebBoard assignment
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2006, 11:01:45 AM »
How did you become a FULL member?!?!  Jeez louise!

jinongster

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Re: WebBoard assignment
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2006, 01:58:16 PM »
you're a full member now too, silly!  ;)

Julieta

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Re: WebBoard assignment
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2006, 05:03:35 PM »
You are right Jinong, but she got to be one with this reply! I want to be a full member too! :'(

Offline ssrun2

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Re: WebBoard assignment
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2006, 06:43:27 PM »
I think there should be feedback from the instructor if this assigment is designed to practice grammar learned in class. Since individual feedback is not very appropriate in this public forum. The instructor can select the most salient ones from everyone's messages and post them in the webboard as a class feedback. Then the students can read the feedback and edit their postings if possible.

Offline dr7710

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Re: WebBoard assignment
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2006, 08:57:23 AM »
It can be such a well organized activity. I would like to use it for my EFL class in the near future, but I am just wondering why studnets are not allowed to seek some help from others around. As we know, we can learn by asking, especially we are comparatively lower level students, and actually asking can be considered as one of the most important processes or sourses for learning.
What do you think of the grading critera? I am afraid that it may prevent those students whose vocabulary or grammar is lower level from writing something in a more comfortable condition. As you know affective filter is always an important factor in ESL(EFL) situation.

Offline Mete

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Re: WebBoard assignment
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2006, 03:39:48 AM »
Hmm,

I guess the lesson plan is good, but i am totally obsessed with the idea of using the forums not just for the sake of using them. So, here the instructor is only using the advantage of Message Boards' being time and place independent. Do our students really have something to say when they go online is the real matter i guess. Otherwise, telling them that they will get credits by their posts does not create a real authentic environment. In class forums i guess do have this drawback, we need to find outside forums where our students can get authentic feedback.

CMC's main purpose is not to get rid of paper.

Julieta

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Re: WebBoard assignment
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2006, 03:22:57 PM »
Hmm,

I guess the lesson plan is good, but i am totally obsessed with the idea of using the forums not just for the sake of using them. So, here the instructor is only using the advantage of Message Boards' being time and place independent. Do our students really have something to say when they go online is the real matter i guess. Otherwise, telling them that they will get credits by their posts does not create a real authentic environment. In class forums i guess do have this drawback, we need to find outside forums where our students can get authentic feedback.

CMC's main purpose is not to get rid of paper.

Hi Mete,

I agree with what you say about our students getting authentic feedback. And I can understand why, in your opinion, the the main purpose of CMC is to get rid of paper. However, as a teacher, I'm still thinking that being able to track what my students post in different message boards and the replies they get (something that I would like to do, even if I decide not to provide "language" feedback) would be very time consuming, to say the least. I'm already having problems to follow all our posts and different threads in this one!!!!! (well, maybe it's me  ;), ha ha).

Julie