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Using an Eraser Effectively in Class

Here’s an activity that we use to improve reading and writing skills rapidly. It involves something we’ve heard the modern teacher is sometimes reluctant to use these days, the much maligned eraser.


I read the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle .   In it he talked of the importance of correcting mistakes in order to master a skill.   This was a constant theme and got me thinking how we could it employ it in our classes to get kids to learn English faster and more effectively.    We’d noticed that some of our students would progress through text books and still not be able to read and write well.    They were not learning structures deeply and having trouble remembering various phonics blends. 


We then decided our new policy would be to circle incorrect spelling or grammar in red pen and allow the student to figure out what the right answer was.    It might be an errant capital letter, a missing s, or a spelling mistake.    This seemed to work well and students would help each other to fix the mistake if necessary.    


Then we took it one step further and teachers began to circle homework mistakes in red pen, erase and leave a red circle of uncertainty for students to correct. It’s a little time consuming, but we think the results are the price we pay for getting our hands dirty, furiously rubbing away in a corner.   [ Students will want to watch for some reason.]   With our My English Book and Me…/ books, we have 3 spaces for the teacher to write the score (how many did the child get correct?), the date and a comment.   Erasing and re-doing (up to 3 times), solidifies the learning.    If a child makes many mistakes the first time, by erasing the mistake and re-doing a 2nd or 3rd time, they teach themselves and build their confidence. 


One, final note: the type of eraser used is of utmost importance!   We frown on cheap, nasty erasers, ones that almost shred the page as they get stuck like a nitcomb going through a particularly tatty head.   I implore you always use a top quality rubber.    This enables the rubber to glide without any friction, banishing the horrible grammar and atrocious spellings to history.


So there it is, get down to the hundred yen shop and splash out on the essential tool that every spunky teacher must have in his pocket, the rubber.


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