Nearly a week has passed since my workshop at the ISTEK conference in Istanbul. After giving a few reflections on the overall experience in my last post, I thought I’d go back to the notes I made after the workshop, engage in some reflection and hopefully get some feedback from anyone in attendance who happens to be reading this.
For a recap of what the session was about, read my preview post and take a look at the slides below:
What went well
- Good attendance - with so many workshops running concurrently, I thought turnout might be low so I was pleasantly surprised to see a full room. Thanks to all of you who came when you could have chosen any one of a number of other sessions.
- The chance to share some useful ideas - it seemed many of the teachers present tended to focus on linguistic and stylistic errors when reviewing students’ writing so I hope my examples of giving feedback based on content led to some of them re-thinking their approach.
- Timing - I managed to cover the majority of what I had in mind prior to the session with no need to cut large chunks out or rush towards the end.
- Seeing the same ideas presented elsewhere - I always enjoy it at conferences when I can see a crossover or link between different sessions so it was great to see one of the keynote speakers Rob Bolitho also mentioning the importance of giving feedback in response to what was written rather than just focusing on the language used.
What I could have done better
- Seating arrangements - I should have organised the chairs into groups to encourage more interaction in even numbers.This is a weakness of mine when doing group work in class as well and I should have been more aware of it.
- Slight change to the activities - as always, I had a great idea after the session had finished! If I were to do it again, I would give a sample piece of work for the attendees to mark as they would normally do so and then build the discussion about what we look for when marking and why from there. By doing this first, there would have been more of a contrast when giving feedback based on content.
- Questions - although my timing in terms of the stages of the session was good, I didn’t leave any time for questions at the end. I did manage to speak to a few people individually afterwards but it would have been better to share the discussion with the whole group.
Problems beyond my control
- Hardly any teachers of YLs - even though my session was flagged in the programme as one for teachers who work with kids, a fact made even clearer in my abstract (also printed in the conference programme), most of the teachers in attendance were working with adults or university prep classes. That rendered my sample pieces of writing from 10 year olds a little unsuitable and alien for them!
- No internet! - my session turned from ‘error correction’ to ‘connection error’ as the promised wireless internet was not available in the workshop rooms (there was a signal but nobody knew the password). I had my 3G modem as back-up but I wasn’t able to get a 3G connection, only a painfully slow GPRS one. Eventually, one of the pages I wanted to use, Cecilia’s guest post on feedback for Ken Wilson’s blog, loaded but my own blog posts on error correction did not. Neither did a Google doc I had set up with the intention of making collaborative notes as we shared ideas in the session and neither did a page I had created on typewith.me, which I was going to use as part of the collaborative error correction activity.
So those are my reflections. If you were in my session and you have any comments, constructive criticism or feedback for me, I’d love to hear from you!