subject matter:  to develop the skills of drawing the evidence from the text for describing characters; to develop the skills of distinguishing between synonyms
thinking: to get the students to find a common basis (the ENV model) for the tasks on describing (characters of the story, synonyms)
Tasks: a) guessing the character (Beryl); b) content generation tasks of part 4 (4.4. and 4.8), Language Task 2.2.
Materials: the text 'Weekend' by Fay Weldon + the system of tasks (same as in Lesson of 10.03)


Task 1 Guessing a character

Timing: 20 minutes. 
I got them to guess one of the characters from the text with the purpose to make them aware of the ENV model to be used here. I limited the number of questions to 5 and excluded questions mentioning the names, like: Is it Martha? etc. They did it all together. I scored their questions from 2 to 0. The questions were: Is it man or woman? (2) Is she busy? (1) Is she married? (2) Does she work?(2)  Does her name start from 'M' (0)?   Then we discussed why we failed to guess, which were the best and worst questions (hence, the scoring), what could have been the last question like, the strategy of doing a similar task .

Task 2. Listening to and evaluating content-generation tasks

We listened to and commented on content-generation text-based tasks delivered by the students who chose to do them individually:  

4.4. - What would be an ideal man for Martha? Motivate your answer. The presentation of the task took 3 minutes. The student has taken two aspects of Martha's life: her being busy and being worried. Hence, she assumed that the ideal man for her would be the one who would help her and cheered her up. The discussion took 15 minutes. It started from the remark made by one of the students: 'From what you have described Martin seems ideal for her.' I did not manage to note down all the turns of the discussion, but the main question it led to was: how to check whether it Martha's ideal or what we think would be ideal for her.

4.8. In this task the student, instead of describing Martha-Martin relationship as Katie and Colin would discuss it, described Katie's attitude to Martha. One of the students noticed this. The discussion also took about 15 minutes.

The conclusion about the quality of doing the tasks: 1) no strategies described, 2) no thinking model used, 3) the tasks done superficially, 4)task 4.8. instructions are not followed.

My role as a teacher was guiding the discussion, keeping them on the tasks, getting them to summarise the information provided on the tasks during the discussion,  and to get them to deduce the character description ENV. I was not very successful in it. I still need to restrain myself from saying too much and to develop the skill of elicitation.

I had an intention to get them to evaluate the tasks, but the discussion took too much time, I could not stop the students, so we did not do the evaluation this time.

Task 3.  Discussing the Language Task: exclude each word in turn (on distinguishing between synonyms): vain, arrogant, conceited, boastful, proud, show offy

They did it at home. The discussion took about 20 minutes. It was their first experience in doing such tasks. Most of the students just compared the pairs of synonyms, described the meanings. One student excluded all, some even for more than one reason. While discussing, some reservations were revealed. Alongside this, others started suggesting other reasons to  exclude words. I drew the grid on the board - to present it visually. The parameters of exclusion they suggested were: polysemy (vain), structure (show offy), derivation (suffixes - ed and -ful)), connotation (proud - positive), first letter vowel (arrogant), number of letters (four and more than four - vain - I am not sure if this can be considered valid). Some could stop and offered more parameters: e.g. base for deriving an adverb (show offy).

Then we discussed what is in common in the way the tasks are done and came to the conclusion that the ENV model is used and we need to start from considering the parameters of the element.

Their homework will be to write a co-authoring task from part 3 (to their choice).

I am not sure about which stages of thinking task framework we passed.

We discussed the tasks content they produced, but we did not reflect  on how they did the task and whether the algorithm did not work. We have not discussed the algorithm for Language Task yet. They just found a common thinking tool - ENV -  for the tasks done.



# Alexander Sokol 2011-04-04 16:26
Larisa, can I ask you to share what you think about the results of working on the tasks above from the point of view of the aims you set in the beginning?
My first impression is that you're trying to deal with too many tasks at once. It puts a lot of pressure in terms of time and doesn't give you a chance to go deeper, even when you feel like doing it. However, I admit I may be wrong here - I need to listen to you first.
Re the algorithm. Perhaps it could help if you looked at your comments during the class in the context of the steps of the algorithm. For example, at Step 1, the aim of your comments is to ensure that the challenge exists and is accepted by the students. For me, it always makes things easier. My task is not to go into a discussion (easy) but to ensure we face a challenging task.
Do you see what I am trying to say?
# Larisa Sardiko 2011-04-29 16:05
Re: aims achievement - a failure (my aims are too broad)
subject matter: to develop the skills of drawing the evidence from the text for describing characters - not achieved, too broad;
to develop the skills of distinguishing between synonyms - got a certain awareness;
thinking: to get the students to find a common basis (the ENV model) for the tasks on describing (characters of the story, synonyms) - partially achieved with my help

Re: number of tasks.
Yes, I feel that, too. I will try to set fewer tasks. Here my problem is in not knowing how to go deeper. I am learning.

thank you for the idea
I think I see what you mean. I still have a difficulty with setting challenges.
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