• A Talk between the Old Tree and the Benches in the School Yard

    Form 7

    Task . Look at the tree in the middle of our school yard. It is talking to the new benches around it.  It likes all the changes that have happened since summer in our school yard.

    Write a text. Your tree is very intelligent, patient, a philosopher or artistic, romantic, active, and sporty.

    Choose one option, add any other features to the tree if you consider necessary (you will get additional 2 points) to make the description more precise.


    What to speak about: - what was the yard last year; - what it is like now. You can write it as a monologue or a dialogue.


    Fragments from the pupils’ written works



    -          Oh! How nice is here! But the next morning will be more amazing, because I am going to ask birds and squirrels for skiing and skating on me!

         I know that you, benches, have been here for not long. Now I am going to tell you a story about our yard. Before the changes it was very empty and I stayed there alone, without friends. But now I have got you!, the big brown tree kissed all branches.



    2.  Tree: How about talking a little?

         Benches:  Ok, what about?

         Tree: You know that I’m romantic so can we talk about romantic things?

         Benches: sure, do you remember your most romantic moment?

         Tree: Yes, this year since you were made many pairs have sat here on you and have talked about most interesting things. One day one pair talked about where they were going to marry. The man offered to fly to Cyprus and to live there.


      Benches:Nice, but we need to stop, I need to go, Bye.



    3. “Hello everybody! Today is a very nice day! How are you, benches?”, said a big tree.


        “We are fine”, answered the benches.


    “Today in school there is a very big sport competition. There are two football teams that I like very much. After reconstruction in the school yard is a big place for children to play tennis, football, volleyball, etc.



    4. - Oh, Mr. bench, I am really sorry, my leaf is on you, but in fact it’s very bad for me because a leaf saved is a leaf gained. 

    -Hei tree, don’t worry! Be happy! Your leaves are very nice.

    - Mr. Bench (do you)  I remember that in 2005 Artem Nikulin went to this school and now he is writing a story about us and ….

    - Really? I will be a star!

    - Oh, about stars …. Do you know that I was a leaf football star and I I won over a Fir tree from the park…….  Are you here. ( he hears - - -).

  • Form 9. Thinking tools: Problem. Lesson 2

    October 10,2013

    Form 9

    Language aim: speaking skills -  discussion – reasoning and argumentation

    Thinking skill –Thinking tools -  introducion to the problem model- a problem description (lesson 2)

    Background.  After the previous lesson ( Sep 26, see the previous lesson reflection) the students’ home task was   „ Choose your 3 learning problems and formulate them according to the structure we came up during the lesson” So, i decided to step aside from the text for the time being and to work with ideas which are closer to the students. This approach has pluses and minusies, I think.  The plus is that the context is more clear and familiar for the students but the minus is that the stereotypes  are stronger. 

    After reading Alexander’s  advice to my previous reflection, I decided to concentrate on a more precise problem formulation, by specifying the problem solver,  the wish and the obstacle.

    The expected outcome of the lesson was, consequently a new variant of the problem formulation.

    After reading their problems, which they sent to me as their hometask,  I understood that they really still describe problems in a very general way. I decided that maybe I should work on evaluation of their problems first and for that we had to work out an evaluation tool. In fact, I decided to combine these things -  description of the wish  and obstacle and  evaluation of  the problem quality, or sooner, I thought that I would be able to come to a more specific  wish and obstacle description through  the evaluation tool.

    Thus,  I started  the lesson with finding out how satisfied with their problem  descriptions  the students  were. 

    Teacher: Do you like how your problems sound now?  (this was their home task –to formulate their learning  problems).

    Students : -3 students (out of 13) were not very much satisfied  , because  their problems didn’t match our structure .

    One  of the comments was  ‘I don’t know how to expalin the wish’    This was important for me as this could be a starting point of the discussion about how to describe the wish, but I left the idea for the time being. 

    All the others  said that ‘yes they liked their work , the problems are well formulated’.

    I asked:  How did you decide that they are good?

    Here are the answers of 4 students who were eager to answer. Not many I must admit.

    1.  (It is)  According to the structure ( the majority of learners kept to this criterion, but as I now understand the structure we have is not precise enough, that is why the problems the students formulated were not good enough )

    2. (It is)  Precise  because it has a lot of information ( there was another difficulty they had- their ‘problems’ were too long, I think it was my foult as I couldn’t properly explained what precision here is and they gave too wide explanations)

    3. Should include solution  ( I didn’t know and now don’t know how to treat this idea, I think there is some reason?????)

    4. The obstacle should be the real obstacle to the wish ( I think it is also a good idea as the student tried to express the idea of a contradiction formulation, though it’s my guess. At this point I had to decide what to do next – to discuss the ideas above or procede with the idea of creating an evaluation tool, I opted for the latter)

    I put down their  answers as a list  and asked them  what this list is like.

    Students:  description of the  problem formulation . In fact I wanted them to notice that these are certain features of the ‘problem ’, but as they didn’t mentioned this (probably because it was obvious to them and features and description  might be synonyms for them , so here is the question of terminology, which I have to settle down),  I kept asking questions.

    The teacher :  if we look at point 1 :  ‘According to the structure’ what are possible options? 

    Students:  either  Yes  or    No

    Students :  So,  they are parameters

    The teacher: parameters of what ?

    The student (Emils):  the parameters according to which we can  evaluate the problem.

    The Teacher: Are they enough? Should we add more?

    Answers differed – some said enough, some said not enough. But then the common agreement was, that we don’t know whether to add or not to add, but we agree that we should introduce some improvements to the list, thus, to continue working with this evaluation list.

    So our further discussion was about an obstacle ( introduced by a student) and the argument point was:

    Should we include in the problem description a  few obstacles  or one obstacle?


    for one  obstacle –  because  we can find solution for one obstacle only ;  

    for many obstacles   - because if we solve only one obstacle we don’t solve the whole problem as there is left another obstacle 

    As we couldn’t come  to a common agreement   we  left it open for further research

    To help them  find more features of a problem description I gave them a simple, in my vision, example.

    Example 1. It is raining. John is sitting at home. He is bored.  Are there problems?   -the students answered  ‘No’

    Example 2.  John wants to go for a walk but it’s raining so he is bored.  Is it a problem? – the studentsanswered  ‘Yes”.  

    The teacher: Will you,please, evaluate the problem description.

    The students:  Not good, because

    1. Wish is not explained .

    2. Not clear what a problem is.

    So we decided to add 2 more points  to the evaluation list

    - Is the obstacle clear?

    - Is the wish clear?

    H.T. choose one of the problems you wrote an evaluate it according to the parameters, if necessary – make improvements.  

    Conclusions. I can’t say that I  fully achieved my initial aim to specify the wish and the obstacle, though I think that we moved in this direction; I think that I didn’t achieve the aim of introducing the evaluation tool as well, as it was done not consistenly and in a systematic way, sooner just  like some unconnected elements, fragments and I am afraid not very helpful. So it is still a problm for me to react to the students’ replies properly, giving them clear enough examples and put proper question to provoke their thinking, as I myself am not very strong and sure  in the area.



  • Speaking about actions

     Age : 13-14 ( Form 7)

    Language theme: Speaking about actions – to revise the students’ knowledge of the area and to develop a more systemic vision of the ways of speaking about actions in the English language;

    Thinking themes: ENV, classification, noticing features of an element, reflecting on the process.

    The students’ background knowledge: they know the following verb grammar tense forms – Present Simple, Present Continuous, Present Perfect, Past Simple, Past Continuous, Future Simple and the use of these forms. They have an idea of the time of the action references. But I don’t think they can make proper comparisons of the meaning of different grammar tense forms or verb structures with the aim of choosing the most appropriate verb structure to deliver their communicative message.

    The students got a work sheet with seven tasks given in the form of questions.

    Q1. How do we speak about actions in English?

    The students got some time - 2 min, to answer the question individually. I usually follow this pattern when students first work individually and then discuss with the whole group, otherwise many pupils wait that  'somebody else'  will answer., the other reason for this procedure is taht later on we can refer back to their initial formulation or difficulty.  For many students this question caused difficulties, which I think was because of not very clear formulation of the question. In fact I expected them to answer that we use verbs to speak about actions in English, by the way the same as in their mother tongue :). Some pupils managed to understand what I meant and gave the answer. Thus we agreed that we are going  to discuss using verbs in English to speak about actions.

    Q2.What verb forms and verb structures do you know? 

    The students were given also 2 min to put down all verb forms they know. and then we discussed them together and I got  V; V1/s; V2; V3. Ving;  and possible verb structures with these forms - V1; V2; is/am/are +Ving; have/has + V3; will +V

    Then I asked a question  Why are there so many verb structures? The students answered that they show different time of the action. So I asked them to put down the differences between the verb structures which was Q3 of the work sheet. We didn't discuss their answers, I planned  to collect the students' works and analyse them, because I used this task as a kind of diagnostic of  their present knowledge.

    As a result of the after the lesson analysis I can say now that they didn't have problems with differentiating between will+V- as referring to an action in the future, is/am/are + Ving as referring to the action happening now/at present. But  V2; was/were +Ving; have/has  +V3 - all refer to the action in the past. In fact that is a sign that they really need a more specific and full system to make proper comparisons of the meaning of different grammar tense forms or verb structures with the aim of choosing the most appropriate verb structure to deliver their communicative message, as they operate within only one parameter , the time of teh action and there is a necessity to find more parameters, which gives me as a teacher the context for discussing a system of features for describing an action.

    Q4. In this task I asked them to reflect on their work and identify what difficulties they faced or what question appeared after this part of the lesson. I think it is important to introduce regular reflection parts to get the pupils used to analysing their work, identifying difficulties and later on learn to build the tools to deal with these difficulties.

    After the lesson: Mnay students didn't write anything but here are some questions/conclusions the students made( I keep to the original writing without correction of mistakes):

    - Should to know the grammar tense and how I should to use it

    - I don't understand inn who forms do writting structures

    - I don't know differences in the meaning of these structures

    - I forgot about V1; V2; V3

    - Present or Simple? was/were + Ving, this is Past continuous?

    - When do we need to use be+V3  ( they didn't study passive, but this form somehow appeared during the discussion)

    - For what describing actions?

    - V2 and V3 are using with past

    - How many differences in the meaning is in English?

    - One verb form we can use in different structures

    - Some structures can mean actions in the past but can be finished, they can be not finished or can be like a fact?

    - It was difficult to understand a diference between Past Simple and Present Perfect

     I think that this exercise or task is useful in terms of developing a habit to reflect on 'difficulties' to know what to focus the further work on and to put questions for further work.

    After this task I offered them to try to deal with the difficulties tehy mentioned for themselves ( we didn't discussthe results all together, I had them for my reflections)


    In the next task (Task 5) I asked them to think what features 'an action' can have. Again the task was not clear for some students and  i invited them to look back at Q3 and start with this feature, so we together putdown such feature as "Time of teh Action" and then I offered them to think about more features. After they had worked individually I asked them to name the features they found.

    Here is the full list we have so far

    Time of the action

    Person of the action ( I offered them "doer of the action")

    Result of the action

    Place of the action

    Length of the action

    Speed of the action

    'Finishness' of the action ( I offered them "completenes" of the action)

    Form of the action

    Task 6.Here they had to write the names of the features in a table and think about possible values of these features. We didn't have enough time to finish the table, which we are going to do during the next lesson. 

    Task 7.Again there was not much time but I still asked them to reflect on their work during the lesson in terms of what conclusions or what questions they have. 

    Here are some answers:

    - What is completeness?

    - What different in time of the action, Doer of the action

    - I have problems with doer of the action

    -I don't know about length of the action and completeness

    - values in completeness and length of the actions.

    - What values can doer have?

    -Which result can be?

    - Can anything object, for example a book be a doer of the action?

    Well  the questions are pretty general and my task as I see it is to help students to learn how to use come to more specific, aim oriented and helpful questions which should with time become research questions or hypothesis questions. But at the moment I am quite happy that they have started putting questions and agreed with me that the questions will hopefully help us build our way in learning how to speak about actions in English.





  • Speaking about objects

    Age -13years old

    Language aim: Speaking about objects - to develop a more systemic vision of the ways of naming and speaking about object in the English language

    Thinking theme: ENV, classification, noticing features of an element.

    Background. I have just started to work with the students, they didn’t study with Thinking Approach during the previous. years.

    Previous knowledge (students’ background knowledge): they have an idea of countable/uncountable nouns; plural/singular, articles, pronouns, adjectives.

    Previous activities: at the first lesson we got acquainted with each other and the students told me about their classmates, they described their classmates, the text The Hobbit (http://thinking-approach.org/text-technology1/the-hobbit-by-j-r-r-tolkien) was given to the students as a home task to read and to translate the words they don’t know.


    Re-read the text „The Hobbit” and

                       - Find and underline nouns

                     -   Underline words which are used to describe the objects/ to speak about the objects

    Teacher’s after lesson reflection: Now I think that I should have given the task to underline words that name objects, not ‘underline nouns’. When preparing the task I had a big problem how to distinguish between ‘noun’ and ‘object’. I always tend to get into grammar aspect more than refer and describe ‘real objects’. I think that many teachers who try to work with thinking approach face this problem.

    The following is an example of what I had expected from my students to do.

    The Hobbit

    In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins.
    What is a hobbit? I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are (or were) little people, about half of our height, and smaller than then the bearded Dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quickly and quietly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like large stupid folk which they can hear a mile off. They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colors (chiefly green and yellow); wear no shoes, because their feet grow naturally leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can get it). Now you know enough to go on with.  

    (J R R Tolkien, The Hobbit)


    We work in the classroom where every students has a PC, so the students did the task electronically. They started working with just underlining nouns, then I offered them to highlight similar cases, which some of them did. Working with the topic ‘speaking about objects’ turned out to be pretty difficult as there a large amount of material to deal with, at least at the moment it seems like that. And my questions here is: Is it better to work with a large amount of information or to focus first on some limited amount of information, e.g. articles ( sorry for again speaking about grammar)I personally prefer to work with a large amount of information, but in this case there is a great probability to get into a mess. How to avoid this?


    Task 2.Divide all the words you have found into groups. Give names to the groups.

    This is a variant of a table with different ways of speaking about objects which we got after discussing what students did individually.


    Article ‘a’ Article ‘the’ No article pronoun ?
    a hole the ground Baggins This hobbit some description
    a hobbit the Big People hobbits his name no beards.
    a hobbit the bearded   Dwarves little people our height no magic
    a noise the ordinary   everyday sort Hobbits their feet no shoes
    a mile the stomach large stupid folk their heads
    a very   well-to-do hobbit large stupid folk
    bright colors
    leathery soles
    thick warm brown   hair
    long clever brown   fingers
    good-natured   faces
    deep fruity   laughs

    I am afraid that I somehow helped students to come to this table, but I think that at the very beginning of working with in this case 7 Formers (12-13 y.o.) we can give them some hints. But my major question is:

    Does this result is the one we should go to or not? If not what should be changed?

    In fact, now I am thinking about the parameters any object might have and it’s pretty difficult but interesting. Can I have some advice on this?

    Task 3. What conclusions can you make about the ways we speak about objects in English.using this table? What questions do you have?

    A summary of the students’ conclusions

    1. We use articles   a; the; without articles

    a – with singular nouns; the – with singular and plural nouns; without articles – plural nouns; uncountable nouns, proper nouns.

    2. pronouns – ‘this ‘with singular; their - with plural; his – with singular, our –with singular; some with singular, no – with plural and with uncountable;

    Task 2. Read the text   “Does Money Really Make You Happy?” from your course book ( Opportunities Pre-intermediate) and add examples of phrases with nouns to your table.

    They added pronouns – few, those, any, many; a lot of;

    And here are additional conclusions they made:

    -       ''Not any' and 'no' are used when we speak about negative.

    -      Any  - about people

    -      no -  about things.

    -      Many, some, a lot of , a few - about more than 1 object, When we don’t know how many

    -      Many -  with people

    -      A lot of  - with both people and objects

    And their question was : When do we use ‘some’ and when ‘a few’?

    Teacher’s after lesson reflection. The students came with ideas about speaking about nouns not about objects, which I think is wrong. And now I am thinking how to come back to the objects. At the same time they tried to group things, and many of them did it choosing one parameter, though not all. They tried to make observations and conclusions, they put down questions which I took as direction for our further work.

    Home task Read the following sentences find and highlight the pronouns and add the sentences to the groups you made at the lesson.

    1. There aren't any car parks in the centre of Oxford.

    2. Eating out is expensive here. There aren't many cheap restaurants.

    3. Liverpool has a lot of great nightclubs.

    4. Hurry up! We only have a little time before the coach leaves.

    5. We saw some beautiful scenery when we went to Austria.

    6. There are a few shops near the university.

    7. It's very quiet. There aren't many people here today.

    8. There is little money in the wallet.

    9.  I’ve got a few books.

    10.I can’t wait for you. I’ve got little time.

  • Vocabulary learning problems


    Teacher: Irina Bučinska

    Observer: Larisa Sardiko

    Form 7



    Thinking:  learning to see the problem situation and to formulate the problem

    Subject-specific: working out the effective selecting vocabulary system

    Abbreviations: T (teacher), P (pupils), POV – point of view, *vocabulary provided by the teacher, O (observer), TTF (thinking task framework)

    Vocabulary problem 1: how to select the words – pupils share your ideas – 15 min

    P.1. think where we want to use words

    P2. Do not learn difficult rarely used words

    P3. Think about words you can use everywhere, talk or write about them.

    4. use translations or read books on the theme you are interested

    5. Make a list of words and  learn words you have written out

    6. divide words into parts of speech

    7. if somebody is a gamer s/he may play only English games and learn the titles

    8. watch films with subtitles ??? because in films we can hear how to T. pronounce? P. yes

    T. reminds of the problem: how to select

    9. make two columns – for lesson and for life but learn all. T. why do we learn them for a lesson???

    10. learn the words basing on your hobbies but in various areas; it can be on any aim

    11. read books and learn words that are in dialogues of heroes because we first need words for speaking T. Why? P. our aim is to speak in English T. focuses on the AIM here

    12. you should think about the words you used most in Russian and translate them into English

    15 min passed

    T. draws attention to the best experience: Pupil N uses n12 technique and then uses words in compositions (through self-study) and chooses the topic on the words she learns and writes the composition

    Home task: read the text, choose 6 words and evaluate why and how you selected the word

    Teacher's comments: this lesson was meant to make pupils reflect on their vocabulary learning, see the problems and start looking for effective strategies to solve problems. Further steps:next time in class we will make the list more systematic and create an ENV model proceeding from the list

  • Как выдвигать идеи? (How to generate ideas?)

    Дата: 28 февраля 2013 года
    Класс: 10
    Тема: «Как выдвигать идеи?»
    Урок английского языка
    Учитель: И. Бучинская
    Наблюдатель: Н.Ковылина

    1.    Цель:
    •    Предметная: повысить качество аргументации (обдумывание содержания текста)
    •    Мыслительная: использовать ЭИЗ для выдвижения/создания идей.
    •    Материалы/задания: цитата из текста, модель ЭИЗ (построение модели)

    2.    Описание урока
    •    Процедуры
    В начале урока учитель поинтересовалась у учеников, чему они научились, выполняя задания  к тексту Э.Сигал «История любви», какова была цель выполнения этих заданий. Ученики ответили, что, выполняя задания, они учились анализировать различные ситуации, учили слова, пробовали выдвигать идеи.
    Учитель определила цель урока: научиться выдвигать качественные идеи.
    Ученикам было предложено следующее высказывание: «Начало - самый лучший этап в отношениях» (The beginning is the best stage in the relationship)
    Задание: написать как можно больше идей, почему именно начало – самый лучший этап в отношениях. Время выполнения задания – 5 минут.
    Ученики не справились с заданием: кто-то написал одну идею, кто-то вообще ничего не написал.
    Учитель спросила, почему не удалось выполнить задание. Ученики отметили, что не было идей, не знали, что писать. Один ученик сказал, что для выполнения этого задания ему нужно больше времени.
    Учитель спросила, что нужно сделать, чтобы создать/выдвинуть идеи. Ученики назвали анализ ситуации. Учитель предложила проанализировать ситуацию: вспомнить начало любых отношений и подумать, почему именно этот этап был самым хорошим. Ученики стали отмечать различные чувства, которые они испытали.
    Учитель уточнила: что на самом деле надо анализировать? Отметили: «начало» и «самый лучший этап». Учитель поинтересовалась, как понять/доказать, что какой-то этап самый лучший. Ученики сказали, что надо этот этап сравнить с другими этапами.
    Учитель уточнила вопрос: как мы обычно что-то с чем-то сравниваем? Выбираем параметры для сравнения.
    Учитель: что будем сравнивать?
    Ученики: начало с другими этапами.
    Были названы следующие этапы: 0.ожидание – 1. начало – 2. развитие - 3.середина –
    4. кульминация – 5. конец. Вся информация фиксировала на доске (учитель)и на рабочих листах (ученики)
    Учитель: что поможет найти параметры?
    Ученики: признаки отношений (эмоции) и то, из чего состоят отношения (поведение, влияние, цели, конфликты).
    Учитель: что будем делать со всей информацией, которую  мы сейчас получили?
    Ученики: выбрать параметры, найти хорошее/плохое на разных этапах отношений, сравнить по параметрам.
    Учитель: это поможет более качественно выполнить задание?
    Ученики согласились.
    Учитель попросила учеников описать шаги, с помощью которых можно прийти к новым идеям (домашнее задание).

    •    Работа учеников
    Обычно ученики этого класса стараются отмалчиваться. На протяжении всего этого урока ученики работали увлеченно, все были включены в работу, обсуждение.
    •    Работа учителя
    Учитель умело направляла работу учеников, задавая вопросы.

    3. Общее впечатление об уроке
    • Цель на этом уроке была достигнута: ученики потренировались в использовании/применении ЭИЗ, который поможет прийти к новым для учеников идеям.
    • Задание (работа над заданием для достижения цели; шаг 1 – проблема, шаг 2 - построение ступенек, шаг 3 - рефлексия):
    Шаг 1 – проблема появилась тогда, когда ученики стали выполнять задание.
    Шаг 2 – построение ступенек – вопросы учителя, ответы учеников, фиксация ответов, построение модели ЭИЗ на уроке.
    Шаг 3. – домашнее задание. Снова меня не покидало ощущение, что вообще-то весь урок ученики рефлексировали, определяя целесообразность «своих шагов», хотя, может, я и ошибаюсь.
    • Вопросы/выводы на будущее:
    Мне понравился урок: мне даже показалось, что это что-то из ТА-классики: четко прослеживались все три шага на уроке. Удачно было выбрано высказывание (ученики действительно работали с интересом), четкое ведение учебного диалога, вовлечение в работу каждого ученика, понятная форма фиксации результата работы.
    Я увидела для себя перспективу использования подобного рода заданий: выполнение заданий из системы заданий к тексту (сайт ru.thinking-approach.org) на уроках русского языка - создание с учениками инструмента выполнения задания (выдвижение идей).

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