• 2. lesson on feelings

    2. lesson on feelings (3 years and 5,6 years)

    Minis group (3 years)

    1. I placed pictures on the floor and gathered the children around. At first I let them just to observe and think, then we started to talk from what ever would come up first.  
    Pictures showed: people thinking of food, hungry dogs,hungry cats, tired teacher in a classroom of kids, two smiling dolphins,tired dogs, happy horse, happy tree, sad dog, sad cat, frozen tree, tired elephant teacher …

  • A grammar game (testing & using models) (with video)

    Below you can see a description of the lesson conducted in March 2012 in Daugavpils Russian Lyceum. I was a guest teacher and it was my first time with these learners. The learners are 13-14 years old and they have worked with the Thinking Approach for two and a half years. It was an open lesson and one of our intentions was to show a possible way with the Creative Grammar Technology of the TA.  In addition to my reflection, you are also welcome to watch the video of the lesson.

     

    1. Lesson description - before

    The idea of the lesson was to get the learners to test their models for choosing an appropriate structure to refer to the past in English with the purpose of further improving them later on. All the students had their models with them. An example of a student's model can be seen here. 

    In the previous lesson, the learners were offered a bank of sentences to be used for testing the model and asked to read it. This was necessary to ensure that there are no problems with understanding the sentences during the lesson. 

    In terms of competences to be developed, the lesson aims can be defined as follows:

    • find examples to support the model
    • find examples to contradict the model
    • present a model via parameters and values
    • define limitations in the developed models
    • understand different models of the same phenomenon and switch between them

    The following worksheet was developed to be given to learners during the lesson. 

    2. Lesson description - after

    The procedures for the lesson are described in the worksheet. The lesson itself was a game, where different groups of learners competed with each other in filling in the worksheet. This was pretty well as motivation to do the task well.

    Part 2 of the task was the key stage for the lesson, as it was here where most learning actually took place. The learners had to switch from the abstract model to specific examples in the text and find correspondences. The factor which made it even more difficult was the need to understand the model of fellow students as the task was set on the basis of someone else's rather than their own model. 

    The lesson was pretty dynamic and the students seemed to be enjoying that. The role of the teacher was to ensure that all groups understood the tasks and kept an eye of the task. The procedures themselves were defined by the task, so in this respect it was fairly easy for the teacher. It was more challenging to organise fellow teachers present in the lesson as they outnumbered the learners and it was essential that they are also involved in the work.

    3. Overall reflection

    The lesson definitely provided learners with enough data to reflect on their models and improve them later on. They could also experience what was more difficult for them and make conclusions for further learning. It was also useful for the teacher as it was easy to see which structures students notice better and understand and where they actually fall behind (fail to find examples or even fail to identify). 

    In terms of references to the Thinking Task Framework, the three tasks offered to the learners actually corresponded to the steps of the framework. It should be noted though that it is also possible to speak about the framework from the perspective of the multi-screen model of powerful thinking. In this case, one can speak about the three steps within each of the tasks offered to learners. For example, if some learners found it challenging to find examples, one can start thinking about developing a strategy for finding examples (Step 2) and then testing it and seeing if it works (Step 3). 

  • An Interesting Biography

    Lesson: Feb 08

    Aim:

    (student) improve their texts (biographies).

    (teacher) able to provide help with finding features that would make students’ biographies more interesting.

    Task (hometask):

    Finish rewriting the biographies

    Procedure:

    Previously the students were asked to write biographies of their grandmothers/grandfathers. They were told that the best biography will be chosen for the school newspaper. At the lesson on February 8 students got their first biography drafts corrected by me. At the beginning of the lesson I told them that I had encountered a problem: I couldn’t choose the best one. I asked the students why I had had such a problem.

    The S’s answers to the question:

    -biographies are long;

    -you didn’t understand them;

    -biographies are similar.

    My response: That’s right. The biographies are too similar. What shall we do?

    Students: We need to make them interesting.

    Teacher: How to make a biography interesting? I give you five minutes to think about features of an interesting biography and of an uninteresting biography.

    I reminded the students that their aim was to write a biography so that I choose it for the newspaper. I assured them that I won’t take into account their accuracy so that not to discourage the weaker students. Students were asked to draw two columns in their “Tips on writing” notes and to write down features of an interesting biography and features of an uninteresting biography, respectively.

    The student’s ideas were the following:

    Features of an Interesting Biography:

    -       not too long or too short;

    -       interesting facts;

    -       funny moments;

    -       written in verse;

    -       beautiful font type;

    -       different colour;

    -       photo;

    -       many adjectives.

    Features of an Uninteresting Biography:

    -       too long;

    -       not clear;

    -       too simple;

    -       too many dates;

    -       too impersonal.

    My reaction: I wanted them to add some more features of an interesting biography so I asked students to match the features of the interesting and uninteresting biographies

    As it was planned, there appeared several gaps. Due to this model the following points were added to the features of an interesting biography:

    -       clear;

    -       not too many dates;

    -       interesting structure/ style;

    -       some personal facts.

    My reply: Ok. Now look at your biographies and think what of the above mentioned features you can apply to your biography.

    The students started rewriting the biographies. For the rest of the lesson I monitored and helped.

    Some more reflections:

    It was difficult for me to decide whether the number of the parameters the students suggested is enough. I am also not sure whether we “named” the parameters correctly or whether we matched them appropriately.

    The outcome: since I have four groups of 5 formers I chose four biographies.

    One biography was chosen for the use of zeugma (in zeugma, the single word does not fit grammatically or idiomatically with one member of the pair): “She is responsible because she takes care of rabbits, cows and Grandpa”.

    In another biography a lullaby was used: “When I was small, she sang a song when I went to bed:

    Sleep, baby, sleep,
    Our cottage vale is deep;
    A little lamb is on the green,
    With woolly fleece so soft and clean — Sleep, baby, sleep”.

    In biography 3 the explanation of the grandmother’s name was given.

    In biography 4 a story was described: “ In 1970 she went to a very beautiful town-Palanga. She swam in the sea when she heard somebody shouting. It was a man. My grandmother saved him and they fell in love (it was my grandfather). Some time ago they got married.”

    These “gems” were added to the column “Features of an Interesting Biography”.

  • Class 4 Riddle Lessons

    Class: 4

    Subject: English

    Aim: These worksheets include a description and explanation of the series of lessons in which we used making riddles as a means to learn how to describe animals, as well as practising grammar and expanding vocabulary. The lessons also involved reflecting on parameters and building up an ENV or passport of an animal.

  • Class 5 English: writing and ENV cont.

    LESSON 3

    1. Description before lesson

    LINGUISTIC AIM: to practice writing a description of someone for a second time, using also new vocabulary and grammar learnt. Consolidation.

    THINKING AIM: to give them the opportunity to make use of the ENV model and other work done in order to improve their writing. To see if they actually make use of the model and are aware of it as a tool.

    MATERIALS: None in particular. Their own notebooks with their original descriptions in them, new vocabulary and examples of ENV models from their own writing and from the text in the book (WOW! 5)

    TASK: To write once again about a very special person. They could write about the same person as before or could write about someone else.

  • Clothes and Selling

     

    Overall Subject Aims: Clothes vocabulary, shopping situations (buying and selling, haggling, persuading), numbers, prices (based on Wow! 4 Ch 13 Cool!)
    Overall Thinking Aims: Practising looking for parameters and values (clothing), building up ENV through sorting task, and practising using the parameters through Yes/No Game. Recognising similarities and differences, seeing objects from new angle (through role play) and reflecting on tool (ENV) and tasks.
    Overall challenge and motivation / need:  Clifford, the class mascot ‘dog’ is enjoying visiting the pupils’ homes, but he’s missing his family in London and wants to go and visit them. He hasn’t got any money. How can we help him?
    Materials:  a box of old clothes, cards with pictures of items of clothing (24).

  • Clothes and Selling Part 2


    Subject Aim:
    Consolidate use of clothes vocabulary. Expand vocabulary to categories – size, colour etc. Speaking practice.

    Thinking Aim: Building ENV as a tool to help with sorting clothes. Practising using parameters and values through sorting and YES / NO – understanding idea of elimination.

     

    First, reminding pupils of our dilema – we need to make 600 euros for Clifford to go to London. We’re going to sell old clothes and we need to sort them as well as possible to make people want to buy them, so that we make as much money as possible. How could we best sort them. Last lesson we tried and we noticed it wasn’t so easy. Now let’s do some tasks to help us think about it more clearly and sort better.

  • Colours (age 3-5)

    Children from age 3-5
    material: objects made of different materials and with different colours as well: a yellow hat,  sheets of paper,  yellow and red  balls , pieces of cloth, a pictures of  grapes, apple, cucumber, carrot, a  pen, a bag ,  a shirt, a box, a doll, an orange etc.

  • Describing families and people. ENV.

    OVERALL AIMS: Subject: Learning new vocabulary – families, parts of the body and adjectives; learning to introduce and describe people, showing similarities and differences; learning and using he/she and his/her.
    Thinking: Becoming aware of the parameters necessary to introduce and describe a person. Introduction to idea of ENV, practise in categorizing and noticing similarities and differences.

  • Describing a country

    OVERALL AIMS:
    Thinking: Working towards learners writing instructions for themselves on ’How to describe a country’, through looking at parameters and building an ENV model.
    Subject matter: Practising reading comprehension in English, learning and practising vocabulary necessary for describing a country in English and building up own English text about a country

  • Describing a country, Alternative continuation.

    This post is linked to my previous one on describing a country. As I teach three different Year 5 groups, I continued this in a different way with another group, as I got a little lost with the first group. We had reached the point of them writing sentences about Finland in pairs on pieces of paper when their first lesson ended and their homework was to read about Ireland. I took in the papers.

  • Describing Families and People, part 4

    Thinking aimfor this lesson: Building an ENV model of how to describe a person based on the sentences they had thought up. Working out parameters.
    Subject aim: further extension and consolidation. Seeing their own sentences in correct,written form, reading and writing.

    Materials: a list of the sentences which all three classes had thought up, with a picture of the lady in question.

  • Describing Families and People, part 2


    The overall aims are in my first posting (Describing families and people) and below, and they cover at least two chapters in the coursebook Wow!3.
    OVERALL AIMS: Subject
    : Learning new vocabulary – families, parts of the body and adjectives; learning to introduce and describe people, showing similarities and differences; learning and using he/she and his/her.
    Thinking: Becoming aware of the parameters necessary to introduce and describe a person. Introduction to idea of ENV, practise in categorizing and noticing similarities and differences.    
    In the first lesson we made a kind of ENV chart of the Simpson family and then did the same from the dialogue in the coursebook. In this next lesson my aims were as follows:-
    Subject: Expanding vocabulary learning to parts of the body + more adjectives and understanding his / her.
    Thinking: Working out the parameters for describing a person; noticing similarities and differences.
    Materials: Sets of Happy Families cards with the names removed, so that there were only pictures.

  • Describing Families and People, part 3

    The overall linguistic aims are still to learn the vocabulary necessary for describing people and to be able to use it, as well as using he/she and his/her.

    The overall thinking aims are learning to build an ENV model and to think in parameters; noticing similarities and differences.

    Thinking aim of this lesson: Brainstorming what learned so far in order to start building paramters for describing a person.

    Subject:Expanding and consolidating vocabulary and sentences for describing someone and starting to link these to other vocabulary they’ve learned.

    Materials:One of the cards used in the sorting task from the previous lesson.

  • Describing Families and People, parts 5 & 6

    Language aims - learning to describe and talk about people, appearance and families, using he / she, his/ her and many new adjectives, revising and expanding vocabulary. Thinking aims:  - learning to build and use the ENV model when decribing a person, noticing similarities and differences, using the same material to look at people from different perspectives.

    The main character in the coursebook, Chris, ‘wakens’ to find himself in the middle of the maths lesson. It seems that his visit to  Ice-cream Island and the friends he made there have all been a dream. Or have they?

  • English Class 5 ENV

    Class 5 English(11 year-olds)2 x 45 min lessons a week

    3 groups (17 pupils, 13 pupils, 13 pupils)

    I am trying to teach the next unit in their course book using more thinking tasks than before, so this is what I’ve done so far, over two lessons. The aims for the whole unit are as follows:-

  • ESP Course - Background Information

    October 2014

    Having made various observations of TA Teachers, I discovered three main differences that make expert TA Teachers different from non-expert ones (follow this link if you are curious to read my article where the issue is discussed in more details). These are

    • (a) involving students in formulating learning aims;
    • (b) holding qualitative dialogues with students;
    • (c) building spiral-shaped (loop-like) instructions.

    Starting my teaching at the University of Strasbourg with my new students, I decided that I will be trying to construct my lessons having in mind these three steps. I am clearly aware that I do not implement TA at all. My main task for the first semester is to learn to make pre-steps for bringing thinking into my lessons. Moreover, my previous teaching experience showed me that I have poor classroom management skills. So this semester I will be focusing on developing these skills as well.
    I work with 9 groups of students: four groups of first year management students, three groups of third year law students and two groups of first year master students.

    This is a series of my reflections on my new teaching experience.

    1. WEEK 1: October 06-10, 2014 - First Data
    2. WEEK 2: October 13-17, 2014 - Some Notes on Aims and Classroom Management
    3. WEEK 3: October 20-24, 2014 - General Notes
    4. WEEK 3: October 20-24, 2014 - Vocabulary Trap
    5. WEEK 3: October 20-24, 2014 - English Sound System
  • Feelings

    1st  lesson plan on feelings for preschoolers and minis (age 3 and age 5,6)

    Feelings: How are you?
    Methods:  thinking approach, song
    Material:
    thinking approach Lexical Tasks /Angry vampire - happy dog /modified
    Genki English material (sheets, song)
    Aim: to understand feelings from different points of view, to learn vocabulary of basic feelings, to know how to ask How are you in English.

  • Framework for lesson on Video clip. Form 7+

    The framework for a lesson based on a video clip.

    Preparation:
    1. Each Student chooses a video clip he/she wants to suggest for watching.
    2. Teacher decides how 5 clips to be watched are chosen out of all clips submitted:

  • Geometric figures lesson

    Discipline: math ( science)
    Time: 30 -40 min
    Theme: geometric figures; rectangle
    Pedagogical goal: strengthening the knowledge about geometric figures in general and in particular learning about rectangle; the development of ability to discriminate, to recognize and to name the geometrical forms
    Type of lesson: mixed ( consolidating and learning)

  • Handout for sorting sentences about Finland.

    Read the sentences below and sort them into groups (write only the sentences number). Try to name the groups.

  • Happy Family Cards

    The pupils had to divide the cards into two groups, and the after that into three or four groups. One group divided them one more time, into as many groups as they wanted.

  • Infinitive vs. -ing sorting

     

    Date: February 17, 2010 

    Aim:students will be able to differentiate between the verbs which take infinitive and Verb-ing.

    Task: Classification.

    Materials:

    My parents love working in the garden.

    I really hate buying some food.

    They are going to go for a walk in the evening.

  • Learner based work with videos - Salman Khan's TED video

    This post will describe two lessons I conducted with my colleagues' students in Daugavpils Russian Lyceum. My personal aim as a developer was to test some ideas related to the new TA technology I am working on now. This technology should provide teachers with a framework for developing tasks to any type of text they would like to work with (fictional and non-fictional texts, videos, film excerpts, etc.). It's still far away before it's shaped into something tangible but I would be really grateful for all possible comments from the colleagues reading it as it will help me understand some of the aspects I might be missing. So, please feel free to ask, comments, argue and react in any way you feel like.

    1. Lessons description - before

    I asked Irina (the English teacher of the group of learners I was going to work with) to offer five different videos to her learners and get them to choose one they like best. Most students opted for Salman Khan's 'Let's use video to reinvent education'. The learners were asked to watch the video once again before the lesson and were also given the text of the presentation to read and clarify whatever might not be clear in terms of language.

    My idea was to get the class to think what kind of questions this video poses and if there any questions they would find interesting and useful to focus on and dig into. It is these questions I wanted to use for organising further work with the text. The questions could be different for various learners. 

    As soon as the question was chosen, learners would plan their work on investigating them (either individually or in groups). This would turn into a kind of mini-research project, where each learner identifies the problem to deal with, develops a plan for collecting necessary information and doing the analysis needed, implementing what has been planned and presenting the results. Then, depending on how the process unfolds, we could either focus on some of the problems we have faced and / or evaluate what we have produced, compare with peers and see what can be improved about learners' model for conducting a mini-research.

    In terms of the technology to be created, the sequence looks as follows:

    getting to know the text --> activating one's knowledge to be ready to interact with the text (prototype: content generation tasks in the Text Technology) --> deciding on the problem to deal with / an inquiry question to investigate --> conducting mini-research --> sharing the results / responding to the text

    All of the above refers to the analytical part of the technology. There is also a synthetical part (see below) but I was not planning to deal with it during the lessons.

    The following worksheet was prepared for the first lesson. I've also prepared six possible inquiry questions as a back up plan to make sure we don't get stuck at this stage.

    2. Lesson description - after

    The structure of the class can be seen from the worksheet above. The thing that immediately became clear is that pupils had only superficial knowledge of the text. It had been anticipated but it happened so that we didn't have time for activating their knowledge part described above. The superficial reading was also reflected in the questions they chose for investigation. I shared mine but most of them were not clear to learners (again a failure at activation part) and I didn't insist on them.

    After selecting an inquiry question, students were asked to divide it into sub-questions to ensure that they would not miss important aspects to focus on when conducting their mini-research. During this process, it became obvious that dividing into parts is difficult for some students. Instead they just came up with possible additional questions (this is something to focus on with this group in terms of the list of thinking skills).

    All the students worked with their own questions. There were three groups and three students worked individually. The first lesson ended with each group / student having an Action plan to follow. This was homework which they were asked to submit by email, so that we could work with it during the following lesson.

    Before the second lesson, I decided that the outcome I'd like to bring them to was a list of drawbacks in their model for conducting an inquiry, so that they could be more prepared the next time they do it. As an input I decided to provide them with samples of their homework and I also added my example (I basically did the same task I asked them to do) to provide them with more parameters to pay attention to when analysing works (see the handouts with homework for analysis). I also prepared a worksheet to follow during the lesson

    3. Overall reflection

    When students starting evaluating works, it became clear that they are choosing parameters without thinking about the function. The parameters were either randomly chosen (whatever came first to their mind) or these were the parameters usually used for the evaluation of written works (like task achievement, clarity, etc.). The right thing to do would have been to stop and compare the same homework samples to arrive at new parameters (I consciously chose not to do that as I was not sure Irina would be interested to continue the line of lessons, therefore I wanted to reach some logical end by the end of the class). Therefore we just had a discussion where I pushed them towards the need for a function in order to be able to evaluate something. By that time they had already generated quite a few parameters, therefore they could consider if all of them were relevant to the purpose / function of an inquiry, the quality of which they were meant to evaluate. There homework was to look at the parameters, select the relevant ones and produce the second version of their model for conducting an inquiry.

    In terms of the technology to be developed, it is apparent that there are still plenty of gaps and things to specify. As I wrote above, I am sure it's necessary to spend some time (and to have certain types of tasks) for activating learners to be able to respond to the text at a deeper level. Types of tasks here might include responding from a particular role (eg you are a student or a mother of the student who is in the pilot group that will be starting mathematics on the basis of Khan Academy during the coming semester. You have just seen the video and have mixed feelings about the idea. You've decided to talk to the class teacher. What are you going to say?).

    Then, of course,  these tasks would need to be tested in terms of the extent they allow learners to define possible inquiry questions. The next group of tasks should deal with shaping the chosen question to ensure it's not superficial.

    After that there are tasks that get the learners to conduct their mini-research. This mini-research / inquiry can probably be of two types: a) requiring additional resources to answer the question (reading, experimenting, etc.) and b) those that can be done here and now (using own resources or classmates). 

    The final group of tasks in the first part is connected with sharing the outcomes and making changes / drawing conclusions for the future. 

    The synthetical part is currently seen similar to transformation in the Text Technology. Here learners could be asked to transform the text they have worked with in some way. It could either be an adaptation for a particular context (eg making Salman Khan's presentation for the mathematics department in students' school), telling it from another point of view or making into a different medium.

    Possible project tasks (larger scale inquiries or tasks that require more time) can also appear as a response to the text. For example, one can see the development of Khan Academy over the past years in terms of problems they have solved, compare Khan Academy with a similar project in own country (eg www.macibuvideo.lv in Latvia) and make suggestions for improvement to either one or the other or make a translation assessment tasks comparing the translation of the EN version of the presentation into other languages the student in fluent in.

    I realise that it's probably difficult to say much on the basis of this fragmented description I've shared but I'd be grateful for the comments and suggestions. All kinds of questions are welcome as well.

  • Letter from???

    The aim of the task:

    • to practice the beginning sounds;
    • to repeat what is an address and what it consist from.
    • to use solve a problem- we got a letter, we have no address on it and we can not open the envelope, unless we know for who it belongs.

    The procedure. The class of 4- 5 year old kids has got a letter. They really want to read it, but they can't- the address is not written exact.What to do:

    1st step kids are looking at the envelope. But they can not read it.

    2nd step  they trying to read, but they can only recognize sounds- a, d, a.

    3rd step they come up with idea, that teacher can read it.The teacher reads anda class. For them that makes no meaning.

    4th step they are looking at the envelope again and finds an address on another side of the envelope. They already know, they can ask the teacher to read it. We read- China, Big green forest.

    5th step they come with idea this is for Wang Zhou, because the letter is from China. But in front of the letter we can not find his name.They are stuck again. But they try to play with opportunity- who lives in a forest and they are looking on a footprint on the envelope. The kids thing this letter came from an animal in China.

  • London vs Paris

    Topic – London vs Paris.(2-3 lessons)

    Grade – 7th grade

    Introduction:

    This lesson plan is based on an infographic. Infographics are a great source of information. Many learners are more visually stimulated and research tells us that the use of colour and imagery can help to make learning more effective and memorable. The lessons progress through a range of tasks that engage student’s interest, encourage them to interact and share information, develop their abilities to extract information and push them to view information critically.

    Aims:

    • To develop students’ abilities to think critically and form informed opinions, to find points/parameters according to which students can present the city or compare it.

    • To develop students’ abilities to study effectively using digital tools.

    • To develop students’ abilities to read and understand visual information.

    • To develop students’ abilities to speak about/present the city.

    • To develop students’ abilities to ask questions, to make dialogues.

    • To develop students’ abilities to compare.

    The structure

    Discussion task

    I start lesson with a discussion task to start the students thinking around the topic so that they start to access their existing knowledge of the area. This task is also created to generate interest and curiosity.

    Reading tasks

    For each of the infographics I’ve tried to design some reading tasks. The first is a scanning task so that the students look for specific information in the infographic to give them a superficial overview of the structure of the information.

    The second task demands deeper comprehension of the content and the ability to understand the information

    Post reading discussion tasks

    Post reading discussion tasks gives the students the opportunity to share what they have learned from the content and give a more personal response to the information.

    Follow up tasks (9, 10)

    Presenting task gives students the opportunity to consolidate their learning in the form of recorded presentation using digital tool.

  • Raising awareness of the use of ENV model in yes/no situational game.

    Date: 16.05.2011

    Aim: raising awareness of the use of ENV model.

    Material : yes/no situation: 30 Countries without a Passport

    A man managed to visit over thirty foreign countries without his passport. He was welcomed in each country and left each one of his own accord. He did this in one day.

    Procedure: finding the answer for this situation.

    Step 1: the students read the situations and we clarified all the words that could prevent the students from finding the answer for this situtation.

    Step 2: they worked individually and tried to write down all the parametres they could think of. Then they compared the parameters in pairs and choose 2 parametres out theis lists. The whole class discussion let us choose the key words of this situation and select the parametres to find the key for the solution of this situtation:

    - without a passport, welcomed, 30 counries for one day: 1. particular place he visited, 2. the job he had.

    Step 3: the students asked the questions with the selected parametres in their head trying to find the answer of the situation.

    Feedback: It becomes already a good tradition to practise the yes/no situation with the colleagues before implementing it during the class. It is not only fun but also anticipating the possible questions and the parametres to choose during ENV model practice. I tried to be more like a quide for the students and let them choose the parametres and test them. The students did not find the answer for the situation but their questions became more conscious.

  • Re: May 27: Reviewing the ENV of a fiction text - draft

    Reading the text for the first time. On this level (after the first impression is gotten)  it is possible to define such parameters as:
    1.1.    Is it a whole text or an extract
    1.2.    The general idea, theme (what is this text about)
    1.3.    The functional style;
    1.4.    The problems which are raised in the text
    1.5.    The genre
    1.6.    the cultural and historical background
    1.7.    the form (layout)

     

  • Self-study technology (1)

    Sep 09

    Defining aims & objectives (1)

    Aims
    - introduce the notion and procedures of self-study that are going to be used during the first school semester;
    - develop skills to formulate learning problems, aims and objectives: make students think about their own problems in EN, aims and objectives;

    Time: 20 min.

    Procedures
    In the beginning of the lesson I gave students back their tests with their results. It served as an introduction to why we need to do self-study: a) results are poor we have only two years to make them better b) Time in the classroom is not enough to improve the results to an acceptable and good levels; c) Students’ level is so much different that it’s impossible to work on their specific problems during the lesson.

    In order to start doing self-study I suggested students to define their wishes, identify their problems, and formulate their aims and objectives. The following questions were put on the blackboard.
    1. What do you want to be able to do in Eng?
        a. I want to be able to…
    2. Difficulties you find in trying to do the things above.
        a. I cannot…
    3. Define the goal you would like to reach by Dec 30
        a. What needs to be improved;
        b. How the result will be measured;
        c. How realistic the aim is.
    4. Define the objectives for the goal above.
        a. I will be able to…

    I read every question and in one group gave an example of what might be written under each point e.g. wish – watch EN movies without subtitles;
    I cannot – distinguish words in a fluent speech used in movies
    Goal – improve …
    Objective - distinguish every single word when watching a movie ‘title’

    Students were given 5-7 min. to write down their replies.
    I asked them to be more specific when they write their wishes, goals and objectives.

    Then I asked some students (one by one) to present his wishes, problems, aim and objectives. I put replies under every question.
    One of the replies was:

    • I wish to go to England and be able to speak and understand native speakers.
    • I cannot understand native speakers & I cannot speak fluently.
    • I want to improve my speaking skills.
    • I will be able to speak correctly and understand native speakers.

    When students gave me their answers I could only make general comments asking ‘is it specific’? You say you want to ‘improve your speaking’. How should I check it after 4 months if you improved it or not? When you say ‘I want to understand native speakers’, what are the topics you want to talk to them about/what should their conversations be about that you would like to understand. If in Dec I’ll give you topic ‘theory of relativity’ and will ask you to talk about it, would you be able to do it? Will you be able to understand everything in 4 months, is it realistic? etc. I think the main problem is that my comments were not systematic. I suppose they made students think that their replies are too general. But they did not give clear directions on how to improve them.

    Students’ reaction

    • Do not break their problem into sub-problems (e.g. I want to improve my speaking in general);
    • Do not distinguish between different problems, put every problem in one (e.g. Wish – to improve my speaking. Objective – I will be able to understand texts better when I read them).
    • Are not specific in their objectives (e.g. I will be able to speak correctly and understand what native speakers say).
    • De-motivated reply – I want to go to England and I will learn English there. I just want to finish school and I do not care about my mark.

    My problems

    • I did not think of exact procedure of how to process students’ replies - did not pre-thought their replies and thought of the ways to direct them.
    • I did not prepare good examples of wishes/problems/aims and objectives. This might be very useful.
    • I did not think of good analogies (connected with other topics than language). For example, in my life I want to be able to travel to different countries every month…etc.
    • Why is it difficult to prepare an example with analogy? I guess it’s because I still need to make a clearer distinction for myself between wishes/problems/aims/objectives.
    • Probably, I was talking too much myself without inviting students to evaluate their peers aims. I should have offered a better alternative to the presented aim/objective and ask which one sound more specific and realistic. In order to be able to do it on the spot I have to be more prepared at home, listing typical answers and pre-preparing possible alternatives.

    General reflections
    Forms 10 seemed to take self-study more seriously, at least their formulations were more elaborated, i.e. still too general but the wish to identify real problems was evident;
    Form 11 (one group) is too difficult for me to control (more impatient and disturbing) so I need to be more systemic in my replies and find the ways of keeping them all busy.

  • Self-study technology (2)

    Sep 12

    Defining aims & objectives (2)

    Aim
    Help students see the difference between specific and measurable goals and objectives and less specific/measurable ones.

    Time: 20 min

    Procedures
    One student is asked to read his/her problems, goal and objectives. I put them on the board. I ask students to evaluate if goal/objectives are clear and specific enough. When students give their opinions, which is not well-thought as they say ‘yes, everything is clear’ I ask students to check the coherency of their problems/aims/objectives by asking themselves the following questions (taken from http://en.thinking-approach.eu/). 

    a) Will you be able to [GOAL] when you are able to do [OBJECTIVES].

    b) Will the problems [CANNOT] be resolved when you are able to [GOAL].

    Students see that the formulations are not coherent. So I ask them to come back to their own plans and check their own formulations.
    I also give an analogy on being specific and coherent:
    I want to be able to cook. VS I want to be able to cook lasagne bolognaise as Italians do.
    I want to buy something in a shop. VS I want to buy products for cooking lasagna bolognaise.

    I ask students which statement sounds more specific and is easier to measure in the end. They agree that the second one.

    In addition, I offer them examples of goals/objectives formulation (taken from http://en.thinking-approach.eu/) and ask to work in pairs and decide which goals/objectives are more specific and why.
    After they work for few minutes (though I should confess they do not do it willingly and seems do not quite understand why they need it) they are asked to express their opinion. Some students claim that ‘I want to improve my English because I need English in my life’ is still a better aim than, for example, “to improve my listening skills in understanding unstressed words in a fluent speech”. I ask them what does it mean ‘to improve my English’ and how they would be able to judge if English is improved or not. Probably I lack arguments and more good examples here as some students still claim that “I want to improve my English is better”.

    In the end I ask students to add to their plans activities they will do to achieve their objectives and time they are planning to spend on it. I tell them that for the next lesson (Sep 13) I will collect their self-study plans.

    Students’ reaction

    • Some students argue that ‘improve my English’ is a better aim. Probably, it would have been useful to make a distinction between ‘short-term’ and ‘long-term’ aims. It might have helped to see the difference between small steps that one needs to make if he wants to climb on the top of the mountain. 
    • Many students in both forms 10 and 11 do not write anything and thought I try to explain the reason behind self-study they do not understand why they need it. The phrases ‘why do I need it’ and ‘why do we need a teacher then’ starts being pronounced on my lessons.

    My problems

    • This time I was more ready to face students reaction and replies but I still lack good arguments/analogies to turn students on the right track. For instance, one analogy that came to my mind now is connected with planning activities that are not connected with students wishes and aims. I might be able to use this analogy later on so it is good to have it in the pocket:

    Your girlfriend/boyfriend is Italian. (S)he will celebrate her/his birthday in 3 month. You wish to make her/him a good present and you know that (s)he adores lasagna. Your wish is to organise for her/him an unforgettable birthday. You know that apart from other things your girlfriend/boyfriend adores lasagna bolognaise. Thus, your aim is to learn how to cook a truly Italian lasagna bolognaise. If during these 3 months that you have till her/his birthday you will be learning to cook in general (for instance, you will learn how to make a good steak with boiled potatoes) then as the result, you will learn something. The question is – will it help you to achieve your aim and will your girlfriend/boyfriend be happy if for her/his birthday instead of her/his favourite lasagna (s)he’ll get a steak?

    • Other possible analogies might be: I want to improve my skills in playing the piano. VS I want to improve my skills in playing waltzes of Chopin on the piano.

    General reflection
    Though in general it looks like some students understand what you want from them, the majority either absolutely ignore your tasks or do the things very superficially. So I am looking forward to get their self-study plans to see what they have written there.
    So far, I start thinking that it is not a good idea to break self-study planning into parts ‘aims/objectives + activities/time + materials’. I am not sure why I started this breaking but if I had to do it now I would ask students to think about everything at once.

  • Self-study technology (3)

    Sep 20

    Thinking about Activities, Materials and Time

    Aim
    to share general feedback on the self-study plans (goals/objectives/activities/time) and highlight common problematic areas.

    Time: 5 min

    Procedure
    Students were given back their self-study plans. Words ‘aim’, ‘objective’ and ‘activity’ were put on the board. Students were asked to express their opinion on the differences between these 3 notions. When listening to students opinions, I reminded them that (adopted from en.thinking-approach.eu):

    • ‘Aims’ include new things/improvement that one will be able to do and there should be simple ways of checking this improvement. 
    • “Objectives” are the result of learning, i.e.what one will be able to do as the result of doing certain activities. 
    • ‘Activities’ are specific actions the person will do to reach ones goals.

    Students had to look back at their study plans and improve them, taking into account the feedback and the differences just discussed. Many of students did not put any time or activities for their plans so the task for the next lesson was to put down time and activities and start selecting the material for working on one’s self-study.

    General reflection
    Many of students in both form still do not believe self-study is going to be evaluated, they continue either keeping silence and doing nothing or ask every time ‘why do we need it’ and ‘what is this we are doing on English lessons’, ‘you are not teaching us anything’. It feels really discouraging. Probably, I need to think more about motivating students for self-study. The first motivation I tried to use was connected with their results of diagnostic test but seems it no longer works. Reminding them about their exams also does not seem to work. In the form 10 the reply is – it’s still too far – or – don’t worry, we will pass the exam.

  • Self-study technology (4)

    Sep 26, Oct 07

    Materials and Work implementation

    General reflections

    Every lesson before starting a lesson I asked students if they need any help with selecting the material. I reminded them that starting from October they will have to implement their self-study plans. In general the reaction was neutral. Many students were just smiling and it was clear that they are not going to do anything and they probably still believe that this is a joke and I will forget about it soon. Some students raised from time to time the eternal question ‘why do we need it’. I reminded them that they need to be able to understand their own problems and work on them and I also referred to the aims of education nowadays. Probably I have better to think of a better motivation telling them that they can learn English easier if they do things they are interested in (listen to the music, watch videos) and at the same time learn English.

    From time to time it seemed that some students start thinking about doing something (for instance, one student from form 11 told me if he can listen to RAP where many swear words are used. I replied that he can listen to whatever he wants and if he listens to one new RAP song every week and works with the text then at the end he can ‘read’ any RAP song he wishes to the class, thus showing that he had been working with it). It seemed to work as an argument as he didn’t expect me to agree and allow such an activity but I know that he hasn’t started doing anything yet so probably he was just looking for an excuse.

    There were only 3 people (out of 53 students) who asked for help with materials. One student told me he wants to become a lawyer so would like to work with the text connected with law, another student needed links to online English books. I send them some direct links to possible resources they might use (for instance, to some newspapers where the ‘law’ topic is discussed). I am not sure if this is the best resource but for the start it might work.
    One more student found a website (http://lingualeo.ru) and looks very enthusiastic about it. He shared the information with his classmates and is regularly working with the website. Of course, it makes me glad he does something and shares his positivism. On the other hand, a little bit later I will try to make him think if the work he does on the website corresponds to his aims.

    In general, I would say that there are only around 5 students out of 53 who do something. Al other are either complaining all the time ‘why do we need it’, ‘we do not understand what you want’, ‘why do we need the teacher’ and ‘why don’t we follow the programme as all other students do’ or just doing nothing and I expect that at a certain point they will join the group that is complaining. And it honestly is very hard to bear.

    In order to follow what my students are doing I offered them a template that they have to fill in regularly and show me once a week (normally, it should be Monday but for some days due to some reasons it might also be Friday) together with some evidence of their work: what did you plan to do; what have you done; what have you learnt.
    Let’s see how it works. So far, almost nothing looks positive.

    On Oct 14 one of my groups (form 10) made a real riot saying they do not absolutely understand what I want from them with that self-study and what we are doing on our lessons and why they are so much different from ‘normal’ lessons. One student asked me if I really believed that if one watches movies and stops them every minute to understand the text (s)he would be able to learn English. When I said ‘yes’, the student said I am telling nonsense and she does not believe me and would ask her class teacher for the right to change the group. I will have to be able to come back to the question of self-study the week that is coming and honestly that obviously won’t be easy.

    When I asked two students from form 11 if they understand what I want from them about their self-study, they told me ‘yes’ and ‘you are the only one who wants us do something’ and ‘those who normally work will do self-study as they understand why they need it but those who generally do not do anything will continue doing nothing’.

    At certain points you start asking yourself if you really do good things. If almost ALL your students are unhappy isn’t that the reason to go upset?

  • Sorting autumn leaves

    Sorting autumn leafs

    The aim- to sort autumn leafs in to 2 groups. To improve English language vocabulary  with words: size, color, shape.

    The thinking aim- to analyze what is common and different between leafs (color, size, shape).

    Procedure- the kids are getting a bunch of autumn leafs and they are asked to sort them in to 2 leafs and to explain why.

    Comments- this was the 1st sorting activity for kids (the group was formed from kids who are the second year at school and from the new one). It was not easy to concentrate and make a task. It was more a game of opportunities, then the task. Some of the kids just put the leafs in one group, some made 2 gruops.The group of kids has very different language experience (somebody speaking fluent, some has no English at all).

    Thinking framework- in this activity we used the only thing from Thinking task framework- listing the typical answers.

     

     

  • 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.

    Task.1.

    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
    dinner

    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.

  • Speaking about Past - First Attempt

    Date: 19.02.2013 

    Form: 10

    PRESENT PERFECT/PAST SIMPLE

     

    1. Lesson / task description - before

    Aims:

    Subject matter: help SS find the differences in usage of PS and PP

    Thinking: to give SS a notion about TA and create a draft ENV for distinguishing PP and PS

     

    Materials: handouts with an entry test and sentences containing both tenses, tasks prepared for OHP (materials and ideas used from http://www.thinking-approach.org/index.php?id=872, V. Evans. FCE Use of English 2, V. Matisane, I. Bučinska, Z. Kremptone..Challenge for Secondary School. Language Development Book, M. Harrison. Oxford Living Grammar)

    Abbreviations:  SS – students, PS- past Simple, PP – Present Perfect, TA- thinking approach, WHC- whole class

    It was my first lesson of using TA, so despite having studied a number of materials devoted to  applying TA in teaching grammar, I was a bit worried about my students` attitude towards the new method and about whether I will be able to achieve my aims.

     

    2. Lesson / task description – after

    Introduction

    I started my lesson with presenting the topic and asking SS if they would like to do something challenging. After getting an affirmative answer I told them a little about TA and admitted that we will learn together how it works.

    So, the first question was how much the SS remember about PP and PS (they studied Present tenses in September and Past tenses in December). SS appeared to know very little, apart from some key words like ‘yesterday, last…’ for PS and ‘ever, already, and just’ for PP. Some of them named the forms – V2 for PS and ‘have+V3 for PP. That was all.

    Entry test

    I gave them handouts with a dialogue where they had to put down the verbs in brackets either in PS or in PP. While monitoring I noticed that despite the revision, some SS still used verb forms like ‘did you went?’ ‘I have been there in 2007’,’he goes’, etc. During WHC checking, I asked SS to justify their choice of verb forms.

    Sorting out

    The SS were given sentences with underlined verbs in PS and PP and were asked to divide them in two groups with an explanation for their division. Most SS divided the verbs according to tenses (PS and PP), but there were some who divided the verbs according to the number of words, e.g., verb form containing 1 word (e.g., arrived, got, packed) and containing 2 or more words (e.g., has been, didn1t pay, have never had). Surprisingly, but at this stage quite many SS had problems with sorting out. I wonder whether they couldn`t see the difference or simply didn`t want to do anything. They just sat and waited for the answer. After we have discussed the most common division in PS and PP, I asked them to divide the verb forms in 3 groups, then 4 groups. I saw that for fast- learners it was really challenging and they seemed interested, while some SS remains passive as usually. On this stage I tried not to interfere in SS` work, my role was only to monitor and sometimes ask a student why he/she thinks so.

    Creating a draft ENV model

    As it was the very first experience both for me and my SS I used the following task to help SS make conclusions: 

    have taken over the cooking at home for my parent's dinner parties, and I have startedto make up my own recipes.

    a) Do we know the time of the action? Are we interested in it?

    b) Did the action start in the past?

    c) Did the action finish in the past?

    d) Is the time connected to the present?

    e) Are there any special words used?

     She has won many prizes for her writing.

    a) Do we know the time of the action? Are we interested in it?

    b) Did the action start in the past?

    c) Did the action finish in the past?

    d) Is the time connected to the present?

    e) Are there any special words used?

    We got up at half past six this morning.

    a) Do we know the time of the action? Are we interested in it?

    b) Did the action start in the past?

    c) Did the action finish in the past?

    d) Is the time connected to the present?

    e) Are there any special words used?

    She jogged five miles every day when she was young.

    a) Do we know the time of the action? Are we interested in it?

    b) Did the action start in the past?

    c) Did the action finish in the past?

    d) Is the time connected to the present?

    e) Are there any special words used?

     

    After that we made a very simple draft ENV model:

    V2/V-ed

    Have/has+V3

     

    Time : known (particular time)

     

    Action: from past to past

     

    Time : unknown (in general)

     

    Action: from past to present (result)

     

     

    Key words: Yesterday,  ago, last year, in 2012

    Key words: Already, yet, just, ever, never, since, for

     

    This was all we managed to do at the lesson.  As a home task SS were given 2 exercises from Solutions Intermediate Workbook: one deals with choosing a correct verb form and the second task is to put one verb in PS and PP according to the context. 

     

    3. Overall reflection on the lesson.

     

    Looking back at the lesson, I think that for the first time it was quite satisfactory: I managed to involve the most part of SS in work, for fast- learners there were additional tasks so that they could not feel bored, SS created a draft ENV model, though very simple, but I think it`s enough for the first time.SS seemed interested and reflected positively.

     

     

     

    4. Questions/conclusions for the future.

     

     

     

    At the next lesson I am going to apply ENV model for tenses analysis, we will do more exercises on PS and PP and I would like to ask SS to do entry test again to make sure of their progress.

     

    I think, I didn`t give SS enough time to do the sorting out: it took much more time than I had planned, so we started checking even when some SS had nothing in their exercise-books. Sorting out in 3 and 4 groups was just an oral discussion. I am still not sure whether we should devote so much time on sorting out. How can I motivate SS who do not want to work or just can`t do it due to the lack of knowledge?

     

    In future I would like to do the same with Present Perfect and  Present Perfect Continuous.

     

     

     

     

  • Speaking about the Past II (2): Imposed model

    Support materials for the Diary Entry “Speaking about the Past II (2)

    Imposed model (Present perfect/Present Perfect Continuous)

    Parameters HAVE DID (Ved) HAVE BEEN Ving
    Action completeness

    Completed

    I’ve read this book.I’ve written to Aunty to wish her Happy birthday.

    (Possibly) not completed

    I’ve been reading a great book, I’ll give it to you when I’ve finished.

    I’ve been writing my essay all morning.

    Action/Process repetition 

    No

    Paula has left early today.

    Yes

    Paula has been leaving work late this evening.

    Action temporality 

    Permanent action

    I’ve lived here for 10 years.

    Temporary action

    I’ve been swimming 20 lengths today.I’ve been living with my friends for 10 days.

    Speakers interest in/attitude towards the action 

    Interested in the result

    She has painted the bench.

    She has talked about this subject before.

    Interested in the process

    She’s been panting the bench the whole day, she’s tired now. 

    Action duration

    No

    I’ve saved up about 200 euro.

    Yes

    I’ve been saving up to buy television.

  • Starting TA with Class 3 beginners: 4 Lesson 2 Descriptions, Using and testing the strategy

    LESSON 2: Using and Testing the strategy. (STEP 2) This post follows on from the three posts on starting TA in Class 3, Aims, Lesson 1 and Reflections

    Aim: Content: to reinforce new vocabulary, especially the words, shape, type of food, colour and size, and round, oval, long, big, small. To broaden vocabulary further and practise speaking and listening through the password game.
    Thinking: to reinforce the idea of parameters through vocabulary games , and to use the password game with different food words from last time in order to find more parameters for describing a food than we had in our original ENV.


    Warming up, remembering what we learned
    1. Describing and guessing. I described a fruit and they guessed. ‘It’s oval. It’s yellow and green and brown. It’s quite big. It’s a fuit.’ They guessed a pineapple.
    2. Then I asked them to try. One of them said, for example, it’s long and orange. And the others guessed a carrot. They then did it in pairs. To do this they had to use the vocabulary they’d learned in the last lesson.
    3. Vocabulary. While they were describing the foods I wrote up the ‘new’ vocabulary from the last lesson on the board. One class in particular had forgotten a lot and had to ask for help from classmates or me. One class seemed to remember everything very well, although during the previous lesson I’d felt they were less responsive (maybe they were concentrating well then?).
    4. In the end we had the same words on the board as the previous time – round, oval, long, big, small, medium and fruit, vegetable and berry.  I asked again what the words told us about the food. Now they were able to say immediately shape, colour, type of food and size. We then pronounced the words again, acted them and played with them a bit.
    5. Game to reinforce the vocabulary and the idea of parameters. I hid all the words and we played a game where I said a word (eg ‘round’) and they had to say the parameter (shape). In one class I played it with teams getting points, in another I just asked them to shout out the answer together, which actually turned out to be more fun, quicker and more effective. As soon as I could hear different answers they had to put up their hands and I kept repeating the same ones, in mixed up order, until they were getting them right.


    Checking homework, which was also reflecting on the tool we’d made in the previous lesson (STEP 3)
    6. We then took out the charts (more or less ENV) which they’d filled in with values at home. Before we checked them, I asked them if they thought it was an easy task and they said, yes, so they looked to see what their partner had written and realised that not all their answers were the same. In some cases the colour was unclear, and there were many variations on what was big and what was small, so we had a discussion about why size is unclear, and we decided it’s not a good parameter unless we compare it to the size of something else.
    7. Many had written extra explanations of foods in their notebooks and one had added a parameter to the chart. She wrote: Where it is born, and the value was ‘flower’. It turned out she meant ‘Where it grows’ and we learned new words to put in the values – on a plant, under the ground, on a tree. They all added the new parameter and values to their charts.


    Now we needed a new challenge which would let them see clearly what else was missing from the ‘tool’ we had. When they notice what is missing they can adapt it – all the time we are gradually moving towards making a tool which can be of general use, and not only for the foods we are describing now.


    STEP 1   NEW CHALLENGE
    1. One of them came to the front and another of them wrote up a food word on the blackboard for the rest of the class to describe and for the one at the front to guess. I wrote up the sentences they suggested. At first it was very easy, and they used the same familiar foods again. They didn’t need to look at their charts at all.
    2. I then increased the challenge by saying that they could put up any food, not just the fruit and vegetables and berries we’d been talking about. This made it much more interesting.
    3. The first pupil to write up a word chose ‘Pineapple’, though I’d just described it and it was a fruit. However, the pupil at the front didn’t get it immediately. The rest of the class was very surprised she didn’t, so it was a challenge for them to think of more to say!


    STEP 2 REMINDING OF THE TOOL
    In the process of thinking up more sentences I asked them to check their charts, and they said, but we’ve said colour, size and so on. Eventually they started to think up more and asked for new words which I wrote up. In the end they had 10 sentences before she’d guessed. 

    The sentences they suggested, in this order, were:
    It’s yellow.
    It’s oval.
    It’s green.
    It’s a fruit.
    It’s big.
    It’s medium.
    It’s hard.
    It’s not from Finland.
    It’s like a rock.
    It’s hard.
    It starts with P.


    STEP 3 REFLECTING ON THE TOOL
    I asked if there’s anything we should add to the chart to make it more useful and eventually they suggested the new words they’d asked for during the game (hard, from Finland, It starts with P). We tried to think what the parameters actually were, and we came up with ‘How it feels’ (hard and soft) and ‘Where it comes from’ (countries), so we added them to the charts and added the values suitable for the fruit and veg they had on the chart. We also wanted to add ‘The first letter of the word’, with letters of the alphabet as values. There wasn’t room for this on our present chart, so now we’re thinking together about what kind of chart would be useful – should we make a bigger one with more foods on it to fill in, or should we make a kind of ‘general’ chart, which could be used for any food? They had to think about this for homework, and again, as an extra exercise, they could practise describing more foods themselves.

    Reflections on this lesson (here) also describe how the different classes reacted to it.

  • Starting TA with Class 3 beginners: 7 Lesson 3 Reflecting on descriptions

    This post leads on from the post on keeping TA going (only just!). Having been keeping it going somehow, I felt I wanted to have some TA in the next test I gave the classes. This meant that when they had a traditional test at the end of the next unit they had a voluntary extra exercise which was to describe a food in English. They didn't have to say what food it was, only describe it, and I, the teacher, should be able to recognise it. I wanted to see if they could still do it, and how much attention they paid to choosing good parameters. At least half of the pupils did this and this is what they wrote:


    DESCRIPTIONS OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES: EXTRAS IN TEST, February 2014
    • It’s green. It has water inside. It’s really big and it’s a little red too.
    • It’s green or red or yellow.  (an apple)
    • It’s brown. It’s big or small.  (a hamburger)
    • It’s small. It’s red.
    • It’s a vegetable. It’s oval. It’s orange. It’s medium. What is it?
    • It’s round. It’s red. It’s small. It’s a vegetable. What is it?
    • It’s long. It’s green. It’s oval. It’s a vegetable. What is it?
    • It’s brown. It’s square. It’s a rectangle. I like it.
    • It’s green. It’s a circle (It’s round?)
    • It’s yellow. It’s a crescent. I don’t like it.
    • It’s red. It’s oval.
    • It’s small. It’s round. It’s green.
    • It’s blue and very small. It’s a berry. It’s round.
    • It’s long and orange. It’s also big.
    • It’s yellow. It’s oval.
    • It’s red. It’s round. It’s small. It’s soft.
    • It’s long. It’s orange.

    Lesson 3    February 2014
    Some of these descriptions were very clear and easy to guess; others not.  After the test we looked at them together and I asked them some which were easy and they guessed them easily; then I asked some which didn’t work so well, like, ‘ It’s green, or red or yellow.’ They agreed there wasn’t enough information.  I asked what information’s needed and they said they needed to know if it was a fruit or vegetable. With this we got back to their parameters and revised them, looking at their charts, to help them remember what parameters they could use.

    I then showed them their own sentences for ‘Cheese’ from an earlier lesson and we started to evaluate the sentences. They agreed that ‘A mouse eats it.’ was the best. This discussion didn’t take long, but it did remind them of the vocabulary we’d used and the ideas.

    My reflections
    I should have had this discussion with them with a clear idea in mind of why we need to look again at these sentences, and I didn’t have, so their interest began to wane. Of course they need to know why they're looking at this, they need to know our aim very clearly, as I myself have discussed, but as a teacher I just keeping forgetting things! Maybe I need instructions to myself on the wall! We played a game of Password and this helped them to be more creative in looking for other parameters, relevant to a particular food. All in all, I hadn't thought this lesson out well enough, but at least I saw from their test descriptions what they'd remembered.

    I need to remember: - motivate learners for task, find a good context, share aims with learners! I was really just seeing how this went, but it should have been linked to a clear further plan.

    One group was more interested and I asked them what else we could describe in this way so that it could be recognized easily. They suggested animals, which was good as it was just what I had in mind. Unfortunately many things turned up after this and we didn't manage to continue with the animal topic in the way I'd envisaged. However, we did return to to TA and food at the end of the term when practising a shopping conversation. (See: Starting TA with Class 3 beginners: 8 The Chump Problem, practising parameters.)

     

  • Starting TA with Class 3: 2 Lesson 1

     

    You can see the overall aims here.

    Below are the aims for the next few lessons.

    Content Aim: to learn and use vocab (fruit and veg) and phrases. To begin to notice and understand DO you…?

    Thinking competencies / learning strategies: being able to categorize vocab in different ways. Using this (ENV) to describe and recognise (eg a fruit), by making a ‘passport’ of fruits and playing games with it / them.

    LESSON 1: Challenge and aim.
    In the previous lessons to this one we had been reading Chapter 3 of Yippee! 3, in which the character, Whiz, is in a food shop for the first time and doesn’t know what the foods are.
    Aim: Content: to learn group words (parameters) – food, colour, shape, feel (?) and vocabulary associated. To use these in context to describe a fruit or vegetable.
    Thinking: to become aware of some of the parameters of fruit and vegetables, leading on to finding more parameters through sorting. To make them reflect and be aware of how they’re learning. Introduce reflective / learning notebooks.

    Introduction, pre-tasks

    1. We looked at nine pictures of fruit and vegetables on the board (taken from the vocabulary page in the book.)

    2. I asked them,’ Do you like..?’ about these foods. Then they had to imagine they are Whiz and I asked, ‘Do you like..?’ The answer is, ‘I don’t know.’  We discussed why? Because Whiz says, ‘I don’t eat food.’
    3. They acted out the chapter in pairs to remind themselves of the situation.
    4. The characters were in the shop, but now the pupils had to imagine they’re not in the shop any more. Whiz asks them, ‘What’s an apple?’  They have to describe it to him.  ( I explained why it would be important to be able to do this  in general. When speaking a foreign language, before you know lots of words often have to describe them so that other person understands.)
    5. So I asked them ‘What can you tell him about an apple?’  They were slow to get started. But then came up with a couple of sentences. I wrote up their suggestions, putting new vocabulary at the side: It’s green or red. It’s a fruit. This is all they could say in English.


    Challenge (Step 1)
    6. I wrote on the board HOW can you learn to describe food well in English?  With the third group I was best able to sell this, to present this as a challenge and convince them that it’s a very worthwhile thing for them to be able to do. I told them that I’m often stuck when I forget a Finnish word in a shop and have to describe what I’m looking for. One pupil explained that his mum (who’s English) had had to describe a reindeer in Finnish when she couldn’t remember the word, and it was funny. Another pupil said to me, ‘Why don’t you try English?’ Good suggestion! I said that that can work, but their native tongue is Finnish, so it’s not so easy for them when abroad!
    It seemed important to have this conversation as they seemed afterwards to be more focussed on what we were doing and why than the other groups had been.
    So the challenge was, how can we describe foods well in English? I asked them,’ What don’t you know? What do you need to be able to do this?’  They didn’t know how to react to this question. Someone suggested, ‘ It is..’ and someone suggested more words. I wrote up, WORDS, SENTENCES, A STRATEGY.


    Building the stairs (Step 2)
    I suggested to them that a strategy to help us with words might be to sort the foods.
    7. I had small cards with pictures of the 9 foods from the board. I gave each pair a set of these and asked them to sort the cards into two groups. They quickly came up with fruit and vegetables, though a couple of groups were confused, because they thought there should be three groups – berries too. Only one group came up with colours at this stage.
    8. They then sorted a second time, and came up with round, long and oval foods, and big and small foods. I gave them the words in English if they didn’t know them, so eventually we had a 4 lists on the board:
    Fruit, vegetable, berry
    Blue, green, red
    Big, small
    Oval, round, long.
    We briefly practised the words by acting a bit, and then I asked what each of the lists told us. With a bit of prompting, and starting with the easy one (colour), they seemed to get the idea. So in the end we had four parameters,
    TYPE OF FOOD, COLOUR, SIZE and SHAPE.


    Trying out the ‘strategy’ (ie using the parameters and new words to help us describe)
    1. In groups of four the pupils were then given a brown bag. Each bag had a different food in it. There was a potato, a banana, a carrot and a mandarin orange. They had to keep their own food a secret and had 3 minutes to write as many sentences as they could about it. The other groups would then guess what the food was. They were very enthusiastic about this, and asked for more words too, though I said to use the board and stick to what they know. The potato caused problems – what colour is it actually? Is it big or small? It also turned out to be the most difficult to guess, mostly because they decided to say it was brown, yellow and black (it had black bits in it!).

    ENV
    9.  The lesson was almost over so I showed them ‘Whiz’s Food Gadget’, which I’d made in advance. It was basically a chart which forms an ENV of the foods, a passport of the foods.  They stuck them in their notebooks and we filled in the parameters of TYPE OF FOOD COLOUR, SHAPE and SIZE. Their homework was to fill in the values, ie information for each of the foods given (blueberries, a strawberry, a carrot and peas). Their extra, voluntary homework was to write about more foods, so that their classmates could guess them next time. They could also try to think of other parameters.


    10. I asked if they might have problems with the homework and they thought they might forget the new words. I had made a sheet for them, which they also stuck in their notebooks.
    My reflections on this lesson are here.

  • The Lost Dog. Descriptions in English

    TA lesson   My Lost Dog

    Subject:English

    Class:4 (age 10), 2nd year of English

    Lessons per week: 2

    The children have been learning about pets in their books and, based on playing the password game, they built an ENV of pets in general. They have just been learning, 'It has...'.

    AIMS:

    CONTENT:to practise using 'It is..' and 'It has..'. Writing sentences in English, expanding vocabulary. For teacher also diagnostic aim - sentences and grammar to be dealt with later.

    THINKING:to practise working out parameters to be able to give an appropriate description of something for a particular purpose. Building and using ENV as a tool.

    CONTEXT AND CHALLENGE:You are on a motoring holiday abroad and your dog gets lost. What should you do? At the Lost Animal Shelter you have to describe your dog very exactly to find out if it is there. They won't show you the dogs at the shelter, nor will they ask you many questions. You must decide what you need to tell them.

    The children made their descriptions, tested them out and worked out the necessary parameters. A more detailed plan for this lesson and the worksheet used are attached.

    Teacher's comment: This challenge turned out to be too easy for the pupils, and the final task would have worked better as the first task. This would have been more difficult and perhaps led to the need for banks to help the pupils make better and more appropriate descriptions and would have helped them to learn more new vocabulary. 

     

  • Vocabulary learning problems

    Date:05.04.2012

    Teacher: Irina Bučinska

    Observer: Larisa Sardiko

    Form 7

    DISCUSSING VOCABULARY LEARNING PROBLEMS

    Aims:

    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

  • Word guessing game

    Rules:

    1. Divide the group into the teams of two (three is also possible), it's better to sit so that all the students could see each other, and the partners shouldn't sit next to each other.

    2. Every student writes 5 words (usually nouns but еру teacher can choose any parameter or determine the subject area according to his/her goals..) on small pieces of paper and folds them twice (the words can also be written by a teacher, or some – by students, some – by a teacher (e.g. 2x3)).

    3. All the sheets are placed into one pot (bag or hat..)

  • Yes/No guessing game.

    Date: February 17, 2010

    Aim:students will be able to understand the algorithm.

    Task: Yes/No guessing game.

    Procedure:

    The student should guess the object in the classrom with the help of 10 questions.

  • Yes/No number guessing game.

    Date: February 21, 2010

    Aim:students will be able to understand the algorithm.

    Task: Yes/No number guessing game.

    Procedure:

    The students should guess the number from 1 to 1000 with the help of 10 questions. This time it was Yes/No number guessing game. It was rather logical as the next step of our class was the revision the way numeric data like 0,6; 11.68; 12,356 is said.

    First af all we have revised the characterristics of the strong questions. Then students had a chance to guess the number for 10 questions. They succeeded and the questions they have asked surprised me as they were thinking ones like:

    Is this number more than 500? 

    Is this number more than 250?

  • Yes/No situational guessing game

    Date:10.03.2011

    Aim:raising awareness of the use of ENV model.

    Material :The Broken Vase. A young man wanted to give a present to his girlfriend. He bought a broken vase at a very cheap price in a second hand shop. He wanted to drop that wrapped vase when his girlfriend opened the door. So, he did as he had planned. When she opened the door he dropped the vase. The girl started to pick up the piece and suddenly... she slapped him in the face.

    Procedure:finding the answer for 10 questions.

    Step 1: the students read the situations and thought about the possible questions individually.

    Step 2: they worked in pairs and discussed the possible questions to ask.

    Step 3: the students asked the questions but they did not find the answer of the situational guessing game.

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