How Should I Use Smart Sentences?
FeedbackPanda’s smart sentence feature was created to give teachers the option to quickly insert frequently written words of advice to their students. How they are used varies from person to person, but they save time for all of us! Since I’ve been signed up with feedback Panda I’ve amassed my own collection, numbering almost a hundred. Because I was building the smart sentences as I was doing my student feedback, the time spent was unnoticeable. Now, I rarely create new sentences because I have all that I need.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ed Nace’s book Loud and Clear; his advice was instrumental in creating my oft-used snippets. (Full disclosure–he has no idea I’m giving him a complimentary plug in this blog post!) You might wonder what you would write in your smart sentences, so let’s go through some of the ways I use them.
Bossy E and Other Words that Don’t Follow Rules
English-language learners face the challenge of figuring out which English words follow pronunciation “rules” and which ones break them. When one doesn’t grow up with the language naturally, learning and memorizing these rule-breakers often proves difficult even for the best students.
I write my smart sentences specifically–to the rule-breakers I’m trying to address. If it’s the “Bossy E” rule, I give clear examples of the words that don’t fall in line, and then how I want them to go about learning it–which is usually memorization.
Parents will sometimes wonder if their child is the only one who is having problems with these rules. To show that this is a normal occurrence for language learners, I have another smart sentence telling them how I spent hours in my German classes memorizing irregularities in the language.
Adding “-uh” at the Ends of Words
Anyone learning a new language encounters pronunciation difficulties specific to speakers of their native tongue. English speakers often have a hard time with the “ch” sound in German words such as Mädchen. And of course, they will usually find tonal languages such as Chinese very challenging! Similarly, Chinese speakers often finish off words with “-uh” at the end, resulting in “cat-uh” or “dog-uh”. Ed Nace has a great fix on this issue, explained in his aforementioned book. I use his advice in creating my smart sentence in asking parents to keep vigilant about what Ed calls a “tail sound.”
English uses inflections to show changes in time, number, mood, gender, person, and case. For example, dogs is inflected with an s at the end in order to show a change in number. Most European languages are inflected as well, which proves to be tough for people who don’t speak a language in the same family. I create smart sentences for each type of inflection I wish to address. One that I commonly come across is the strong verb inflections, especially as the student progresses to learning about past participles. I tell the parents the only way to learn these strong (irregular) verb inflections is through memorization. Again, to let the parents know this is a common obstacle among all language learners, I insert another smart sentence about how I had to spend a lot of time memorizing German verb inflections for past participles.
Vacation Time or Asking for Parent Feedback
I suggest making smart sentences for scheduled absences. If you choose to ask for parent feedback, I would also use the smart sentence feature. Some teachers use their signatures in order to communicate these, which is a great option too. However, the Smart Sentence feature allows you to generate pronouns and [name] specific to your student. The signature feature doesn’t permit this.
Smart Sentences Save You Time
Writing feedback is not only about the time that you spend actually typing it out; it’s also about the time that you spend thinking of how you’re going to phrase your feedback, how it’s going to translate to the parents, and how to form your sentences to get your meaning across. There’s also the mundane editing for spelling and grammar–all of this after you’ve finished 10 classes in a row, and you’re going on four hours or less of sleep. Smart sentences take away all of that thinking and preparing time. You don’t have to think about what your sentences are going to say or how they’re going to be structured. All you have to do is pull it from your smart sentence library and insert it into your feedback…done!