All posts by Derek Czajkowski

Should Literacy Students Help Each Other With Assessments?


As I watched my literacy students doing, or, in several cases, trying to do, a formal assessment task recently, I thought of that old joke: schools are places where students go to watch teachers work. I questioned my competence. We’d spent over a week doing skill building activities, spiralling back to skills and activities, reviewing, repeating, repeating, and repeating. Oh, the repetition. I checked comprehension. Checked again. The students nodded. They did well in the lessons. Then the task. Back to square one.

The stronger students finished first, of course. However, instead of sitting quietly waiting for the others to finish, some of them did what they’ve been doing in class: helping their weaker peers. This being a formal assessment, my first impulse was to stop this helping, or as the academic term has it, cheating.

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Teacher Centred Literacy Classes


I know the orthodoxy of education is for lessons to be student centred. But I’m going to risk excommunication here by suggesting that there are times when it’s absolutely essential that classes be teacher centred. Literacy classes are such instances.

To go against one’s training and instincts by shifting focus to oneself (the teacher) is one of the many challenges of teaching a literacy class. It doesn’t take long, however, to see that the lower the level of a student’s English, the more guidance, scaffolding, and support they need from their teacher. 

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