Thinking aim for 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.

Making a tool (Step 2?) for a description of a person by sorting sentences. I gave out the list I’d made (see below) and our task was to sort the sentences to make them useful for us to describe any person. They stuck the handout in their notebooks opposite a blank page. On the blank page we drew two columns and we wrote the parameters they suggested  in the first column. Each time they wrote out a couple of sentences as examples of this parameter in the other column.

They themselves suggested that some sentences were talking about the same things (sometimes in a contradictory manner – one class thought she was tall; the other short), but they came up with height. Eventually we found the parameters, height, looks, character, clothes, family, likes/dislikes, hobbies, skills, home, possessions, age.

In the end this took the whole lesson as they found the parameters quite difficult to work out and we had a lot of discussion about ceratin parameters such as the differences between ‘hobbies’ and ‘skills’ (She can play the piano.) We also discussed why we might need to be able to describe or identify a person. They suggested they might want to tell someone about a friend. They also suggested themselves you need to be able to tell if a person is who they say they are. From that we went on to talk about real passports. Only two out of eight pupils had one, and the others weren’t even sure what it was. They explained to each other what it is, and then looked at our parameters and the sentences again. Which information would you need for an official passport? They had fun with the idea that you might write in a passport ‘ She wears lipstick.’ and we talked about which features of a person are permanent and which would actually physically indentify the person. In the end nationality was the only parameter we kept, thought we agreed height would be important if it was exact, as well as age, if it was exact.

They themselves suggested that for homework they would make a similar model of someone they know and use as many parameters as they could. (Below are the sentences they thought up.)

She is tall.                                 She’s kind.
She is short.                              She likes tea.
She’s got blue eyes.                   She likes coffee.
She’s got long hair.                    She’s from Finland.
Her hair is brown.                       She’s from Slovenia.
Her legs are long.                      She lives in England.
She’s got glasses.                      Her hat is red.
Her mouth is red.                       She sits on a chair.
She’s got a pet.                         She’s got a house.
She’s got lipstick.                       She is beautiful.
She’s got flowers on her hat.       She can drink.
She’s got a boy.                        She is smart.
She’s got red shoes.                  She is clever
She can play the piano.              She can drive a car.
She’s a mum.                            She’s got a black cat.
She’s got a dress.                      She’s got a boyfriend.
She’s a granny.                          She’s got a red car.        
She’s got a hat on her head.       She’s nice.
She’s lovely.                              She’s old.

My reflections on this lesson: I realise now that I’ve lost my way a bit here. I was so impressed by the number of sentences they thought up that I wanted to use them in some way immediately, and so I decided we’d build the ENV model from them, but we don’t actually have a purpose for it yet. In fact, they are basically thinking up purposes for themselves. Linguistically it was a very useful lesson and I think from a thinking point of view too, as they all worked hard and actively together thinking up parameters and suggesting uses. The discussion about what’s needed for a passport as opposed to describing someone to a friend made them think about the same parameters from different angles.

How does this fit into the framework though? It’s more like Step 2 followed by Step 1, and we’ll reflect on if the ENV model helped them do their homework at the beginning of the next lesson. Having a list like this of their sentences is also, I feel, the beginning of making a bank, but I’m not yet sure how to store it. Maybe we could have individual banks and also class banks of things we’ve thought up together?

Now I’m thinking I’ll give them a task connected to the characters in their books where they have a reason to describe them to someone new. This will fit into the next chapter we’re doing where the main character moves from a dream world to the real world. He will have to convince his real friends that his ‘dream’ world friends are real (the boundary between the two is still a little unclear to us.) What will he tell them about them and how can he prove it?

I only did this lesson in this way with one of my 3rd classes. With another we only thought about the lady and parameters, but didn’t discuss the ‘passport’ idea or differences in describing for a friend or for recognition. We’ll go on to do that when they think about a situation from their books. I think I might give the character task to the final class first, let them try it and then introduce the ENV model by using their sentences. They can then attempt the task again and we can make some ‘passports of a friend’ of some of the characters to practise using parameters and writing sentences about people. I think I’ve been spending too long on all this. However, they’re still interested.


# Alexander Sokol 2011-05-04 21:34
Susan, I agree with you that having a purpose is useful for making a task more thinking. Playing with parameters may be useful as well, however having a purpose makes it possible to evaluate various ideas and pose new questions for learning.

Another interesting aspect you referred to is a contradiction. Your pupils almost had it formulated - we would like to include height and age in the passport, however these things change. This could have been a step towards speaking about problems with them.

BTW, why couldn't making a passport be a purpose during this lesson?
# Susan Granlund 2011-05-08 17:55
Thanks for your comments - I agree, I felt I was on to something when we got talking about passports and heights etc,the pupils were full of ideas and interested and I just didn't know at that moment how to capitalize on it! There was I only thinking about the ENV model. It's partly that I'm often too slow about thinking on my feet, but I guess this part should also improve with experience and knowledge. How should I have used the idea of contradiction here..? Do you mean I could actually have started leading up to the use of the contradiction model and how to formulate a problem and decide if it really is a problem?

This is where I should know better where I'm going and the 'theory'.Then I'd be in a better position to change direction in a lesson according to the responses of the learners, and to still keep it 'thinking'. I find that very hard at the moment.

Yes, it would be good to make a passport now. Maybe we'll do that soon.
# Gillian Boniface 2011-05-20 12:11
I understand how you feel about trying to change direction to introduce new aspects, but I think what you write always sounds so well planned and it certainly comes across as if you have full control, certainly of the ENV model anyway! It would be great to hear if you do manage to introduce the contradiction model into the classroom.
# Larisa Sardiko 2011-05-22 09:54
I share your feelings, Susan: I am very slow with 'thinking on my feet'. And often after the lesson I realise how I should have acted. I think this is Ok for I am learning through this.
Thank you for showing clearly the situation and possibilities to handle it.
Re: homework - I'd like to clarify - they decided 'they would use a similar model' to describe somebody they know.Did I get it right? Do they know why they will be describing that person?
# Susan Granlund 2011-05-22 11:29
Thanks for your comments Gillian and Larissa. I'm afraid I haven't yet managed to introduce the contradiction model - I think it would be very interesting to try. Our school term is almost over, so it might have to wait until the autumn.
Larissa - no, they didn't know why they were describing the person. They were just desperate to tell me about their families - most of them wrote about their mum, or even the family pet. Of course a reason would have been better - I tried to correct this a bit in the next set of lessons (about the book characters.)
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