• Language Theme: Speaking about past and pre-past

• Thinking aim: Concept questions – building a draft model

There isn’t any background regarding Thinking approach. Students mostly concentrate on signal words in the text and have never analysed actions.
During the previous lesson they wrote a diagnostic test on the topic ‘Speaking about past.”

Task.1. Students had to find all past grammar structures in the text.
Task 2. Complete the story with the verbs in brackets in the past
Task 3. Tell about the time of graduation from the basic school. (use various grammar structures in the past).

The results varied.
The results showed the necessity of working on the area.

I give a handout with the task on different examples of past grammar tenses :
1. Some minutes ago water boiled at 100 degrees C.
2. Water was boiling when I entered the room.
3. When I entered the room water had already boiled.
4. Water had been boiling for the last 10 minutes before I entered the room.

and 4 concept questions:

• What time is the speaker referring to?
• Does the speaker want to show that the action lasted for some time?
• Does the speaker want to show when the action started?
• Does the speaker want to show when the action ended?
3. The students translate the sentences and do the Concept question task as a group
4. I ask to write the verb structure for every sentence on the handout with the task individually.
The result. The students gave their ideas and I put them on the Smart board.
1. V2
2. Was/were+V-ing
3. Had+V3/-ed
4. Had+been+V-ing
The discussion.
Students give their answers and I ask for several ideas and put the common decision on the board.

V2 Time of the action: Past; Length of the action: short+ time line
Was/were + Ving - past; a long action + a time line + discusion and comparison of the time line for this form and Past Simple ( the previous)
Had+ V3 – Students’ ideas about the time of the action: past; I started asking questions - Did we know when the water boiled? Is it about past? When did it happen?
The students pretty quickly came up with the answers before past – pre- past .
I asked them to give the names to the structures – Past Simple; Past Continuous; Past Perfect Simple; Past Perfect Continuous.

5.I give the students their diagnostic tests, the task where they had to find verb structures and asked them to do this task one more time. I think it is a tool how to improve their tasks and correct mistakes. On a smart board we do it as a group after the students have done the task individually because I notice that not all students could find all past verb/grammar structures in the text.

I draw a table with verb structures vertically and parameters horisontally on the board and ask the students to fill it in. The students fill it in and then compare.
Home task: The students get the task on filling in the gaps with a correct verb structures, analysing the situation according to the model they have just made in the classroom.

I suppose that I work on Function of STEP 2 for learners: change learners approach of coping with the challenging tasks/problems from “not knowing how” and “guessing” to “using specific thinking models/skills for building a solution/algorithm”.

My students have never analysed any actions. They chose grammar structures according to signal words seen in the text/ sentences. I invite and encourage them to analyse actions by describing their function according to the parameters (time and length of the action).

My plans for the future- continue to work with this approach because it makes students think and make right decisions, decisions they can prove.

Following the process of students’ work it was seen that they had difficulties to find the point of reference in the parameter-„ time” for the action to decide whether it is past or pre-past.


# Edgar Lasevich 2013-11-02 18:04
Dear Inna,
Thank you for sharing a nice example of how the TA principles may be used to increase students' awareness which helps overcome difficulties in using grammar.
Your example is very good if we take into account the degree of experience your students have in working with such "open" grammar exercises. From teacher's perspective you had to understand the core of students' problems, analyze them and work out plan to overcome the difficulties. Another really good point was to make your students accept the challenge - the need to improve in the topic was created by previous work. I also assume, that there were also strict time limits (still based on very much lesson-by-lesson planning) which explains a rather abrupt move to comparison of the forms.
Due to this, just to make some things visible:
- the procedures were much teacher-driven (much based on teacher's resources);
- concept questions were very much limiting the possible formulation of draft model;
- rather limited number of samples available for analysis also narrowed the possibility to interpret differently;
- there might have been a bit more communications on the way to reach the result and thus a little more emphasis on how we analyze grammar (what we do) and evaluation of results (what we reached).
Further movement can be to increase of analyzable inputs (bank), longer and less teacher-centred period of sorting tasks, and more awareness of models of how we deal with grammar phenomena.
Thank you for a nice example, good luck.
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