As I have already mentioned, the feedback I got from the editor in ELTteacher2writer (Eltteacher2writer.com) was highly constructive, and it contained a lot of positive comments which was of course very pleasant to read. As for the critisism, it was all very much to the point and justified.
I was writing this post simultaneously with modifying the worksheet, as I thought it would be interesting to not down what has been changed and why.
you can download what I’ve come up with here:
I started with the answers: as it was pointed out in the feedback, some of the answers started with the capital letters, and some – with the lower case letters, and instead of confusing the students (as sometimes it bore no signficance or connection to the actual context), I could use this distinction to help their orientation. So I looked through the answers again and made sure capital letters appeared only in the right cases, and not because Microsoft Word had decided so. Along with 2 different sets of colours used, this disctinction should work to shorten the time of actual gap-filling and save some more class time for working with the vocabulary itself.
Another thing (was half-expecting it, and am ready to agree) is too many reviews and even bigger number of answers used. I tried to shorten the number, sticiking mostly to higher frequency utterances.
Something else I agreed with was a need to decrease the ambiguity: in the first version there was a note that there are more answers than gaps, so some extra choices are possible. However, I was advised that this is something that could distract and demotivate my students. This is probably true: being not a very simple task altogether, it can easily do with a bit of simplification.
The main thing I was advised to change was the number of the points in the exercise. And I have to admit, I was also feeling there were too many of them, but it was so hard to choose the most appropriate reviews…
Leaving all the technicalities behind, it’s time to move to the context and the sense of the worksheet itself. I was recommened to stick to the most obvious, i.e., the least unambiguous phrases and combinations, especially to strong collocations like an unputdownable book, highly recommended, etc. My mistake was to include too many examples where any positive adjective like amazing, gorgeous or stunning would fit. That could make students feel misled and confused. Here I had 2 options: to make a point of showing that such words can be interchangeable, or – quite the opposite – get rid of any kind of ambiguity. I thought it would be very sad to have to delete most of the synonyms, so what I chose was to put all the adjectives together and indicate how many times any adjective from the list should be used, so that it would be clear they are interchangeable (see point a) in the answers list).
After a lengthy process of shortnening and deleting some of the reviews I was left with
19, no, 17 sentences, which is already an easier number to cope with…
As for the tasks after the gap-filling, 4b was considered a good idea as it lets students revise some of the vocanbulary and to focus on its form, but what the expert offered to do was to add some context, and again, I agree it works better this way. So I tried to put all the collocations and idioms into the context, e.g. now the students had to correct not separate phrases, but full sentences containg these phrases:
To wrap up, after having deleted everything I decided to get rid of, I have to admit, the worksheet stopped looking that massive and cpnfusing, just the opposite – it seems compact, neat and do-able))
I have once again modified and reviewed different parts of the teachers’ notes and the worksheet, and finally I am almost happy about them…
What do you think?