This year I started something new related to the students' writing. I used to collect their compositions, stories, or essays, then circle their mistakes along with a code so they knew what the problem was. For example, if they wrote "los vacas pequeñas", I would circle the word "los" and put "ag" next to it, which stood for "agreement". In this way students knew that they made an error with agreement. The students rewrote the writing piece with the corrections and submitted it again for a higher grade.
The problem with this practice is that It Did Not Improve Their Writing! I found myself circling the same mistakes with each new writing that they submitted. I was spending a lot of time finding the errors, circling them, coding them, and then rechecking their papers when they were resubmitted, but all that time and energy wasn't helping the students to become better writers.
Instead of investing time that leads to no positive results, I changed my approach on writing. This year, the emphasis is on how much they can write AFTER they have had a lengthy amount of comprehensible input. Many times I've heard the experienced CI teachers say, when the students no longer feel pressured to concentrate on the grammar, but rather focus on writing their thoughts, they write more and what they write is better grammatically. But, it depends on comprehensible input before the writing activity... a LOT of comprehensible input. As Bryce Hedstrom once mentioned Input ≠ Output. Input, Input, Input, Input, Input, Input, Input, Input, Input, etc = Output.
To date this school year, my Spanish 2 students completed two writing activities that were handed in. For these beginning writings, I didn't count the number of words. I did a "writing analysis" on the students' work to help me know what areas I need to focus more on during the instruction. For the writing analysis pictured above, I chose several structures and verbs that were used in the stories or the questioning and then looked for only those errors in the students' papers. This took much less time because I didn't physically circle the errors, just glance over the writing and make tally marks on the chart. On this analysis, it's clear that there are several verbs that I need to recycle into this week's input. The estar + ando/iendo doesn't surprise me because they only touched on that at the end of Spanish 1. And, of course, ser vs estar was the next problem, but the number of errors for the amount of writing they did didn't cause too much alarm. It appears as if I'll need to include sentences that include these structures in the next few stories.
I don't plan on doing a writing analysis each time the students hand in a writing assignment. However, I will do it from time to time to make sure I am including more practice in the areas that show up as weaknesses.