Recently somebody asked how do I reduce my marking load? This is a crucial question. Anyone who is overloaded/tired makes poorer, short term choices (and is functionally less intelligent than) the non-overloaded.
Blaine Ray once joked that TPRS was developed partly to improve his golf game. There is a solid kernel of truth here: when teachers have family lives, hobbies and rest, they are much better focused in class. Same for kids!
So…here is a look at the workload in Spanish 1 to offer people perspective.
Background: my language teaching is about 50% classical TPRS. On top of that, we have Movietalk, Picturetalk, opening routine, Story Listening, zero-prep activities and of course reading (and I use OWIs in TPRS-style stories. I more or less base everything around a story cycle.
I also want to spend as little time as possible testing and marking (these take away input time, and are boring).
The Marking Workload
I deliver C.I. for 75 min/day for a total of 6 hrs/week for five months per year. My testing includes
• one or two 5-7 sentence-story listening quizzes per story cycle (about teo weeks). I read a 5-7 sentence story aloud, sentence by sentence, the kids copy them down, then translate into English.
• one reading assessment per story cycle. Here, kids translate any of the following: a short story (using recent story vocab), a Wooly story, sentences from the novel we are reading, or I upload a class story to Textivate and use that.
• At the end of every story cycle, we test writing. First, kids have 5 min. to describe a picture. Second, they have between 15 and 50 min. (depending on grade & time during semester) to write a story.
It takes me about 15 min/block to mark & enter quizzes, so 30-45 min every two weeks for quizzes (faster if it’s Textivate or I’m using Wooly for listening).
5-min writes = 15 min/class to read & enter.
Stories take about 40 min (you don’t have to read all of each story— reading 5 random sentences will give you a very accurate picture of their writing.
So 95 min biweekly of work.
Marking load per block per week: 45 min.
The Preparation Workload
I have a vague idea pre-story what vocab (usually verbs, adverbs and prepositions) I want in each story. So prep is zero.
Once a story is asked, I type it up (15 min), look for & cue up some Movetalks (5 min), look for & load pics for Picturetalks (5 min) and type up the most recent bits from the Soap Opera (10 min). So the prep takes 35 min/two weeks = 20 min/week.
So Spanish workload = 1 hr 5 min per block per week outside of class time.
This seems to be a bit lower than the workload in English, about comparable to Philosophy, and much higher than for guitar. One thing is for sure: I get waaaaaay better results, have much more fun (as do the kids), and work a lot less than I did when I used the textbook.
In other words, as research shows, C.I. is not just fun and effective, it’s efficient! 😁😁
So…what did I do to reduce marking?
- I stopped giving out & marking stupid cahier/cuaderno homework.
- I stopped planning “activities.” C.I. stuff delivers everything we need to acquire language.
- I ditched huge projects. Output and translate-into-TL don’t do much for acquisition.
- I got rid of most electronics. I’m too lazy to plan QR-code this and Quizlet that. A flashcard on a smartphone is still a flashcard.
- I stopped giving stupid “unit exams” complete with multiple-guess questions which took forever to mark.