One of the initiatives that the new English teacher introduced into the curriculum this year is a weekly journal to be written in English. The idea is that over time the students will get better and better and it will serve as a sort of benchmark for them to look back on. I too have had experience looking back at things I wrote long ago and it’s always very reassuring to see just how much progress has been made. Of course some students blow it off, since there are not specific requirements. I get a little annoyed at the kids who write the same single line about playing handball, they may also make mention to being tired. I tell them to write more and also to diversify their content, but so far to no avail. About half of the students write lines of text, and the other half will include pictures to help illustrate what they are talking about. At times their English will make no sense whatsoever, so these can prove vital to cracking the code.
Here is an above average, but fairly standard submission. I of course take a red pen to the mistakes, but there is no penalty for errors. These journals are scored on a basis of participation and are primarily for the benefit of the students. I wouldn’t want to discourage them from trying hard by either inking excessively or assigning some demoralizing score.
I don’t have much homework to check with this new teacher, so I’ve decided to put a lot of effort into commenting on these journals. Especially of those that make a genuine effort, I want them to know that their books are thoroughly read over and appreciated. Now, there are a few students who have started to respond to the questions that I ask about their journals. Not only do they answer those questions, but some of the students have begun to ask them of me!
Here was recent submission by Mina. (祝日 = holiday)
The furthest development from this project are the students actually showing appreciation for the effort I put into marking them. Even though I only have about 60 of these books each Monday, it takes over two hours to get through to the stack. I’ve had a few students thank me already, but this message I received recently really made my day. I’ve drawn acclaim to Momoka’s artistic talents before, and this was no letdown. As I said, I do think this is a really great idea and will be a fantastic means for me both to encourage them and learn more about my students’ hobbies and interests.