1. My aim: to get students to create a list of parameters relevant for the understanding of a fiction text

Subject matter: developing the understanding of a fiction text

Thinking skills: using the ENV model (without their realising it yet) to build the algorithm (the text ENV) for describing a fiction text

Materials:

Text 1: The Importance of Being Earnest, Act I (an extract from the play by O. Wilde )

Text 2: I Should Not Have the Guts To Do It (an extract from "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger)

Task (to be done at home before the lesson): describe/characterise each of the texts (do the task in writing.

2. Lesson Description - procedures:

Step  I:  working in 2 groups (3 students in each) the students (on the basis of what they have done at home) put together the characteristics of one of the texts (create list 1a and b)  (to their choice). Required time: 10 min; actual time: 15 min

Step 2: the same groups comparing the two lists of texts (a and b) characteristics look for common names of the features mentioned: e.g. one text is a play, the other is a story (the name of the feature - genre). (List 2 a and b) Required time: 10 min; actual - 15 min

Step 3: working all together students in turn (group after group) call out the names of features they have on the lists (2 a, b) and their values for each text.

Through discussing the relevance of the features and their values for each text a new list (3) has been made. During the process, some students added the parameters they came up with on the spot (e.g. time of creating the s etc.)  The discussion took us around 30 minutes. As a result, the students have got a rough list of parameters to describe a text which will later be developed into an algorithm (or text ENV).

Teacher tole: set the tasks, explained, provided the copies of the lists devised by groups, monitored the discussion (at step 3).

At home they will have to revise the list we have come up with and describe the way they did the task before the lesson and during the lesson focusing on their learning points at both stages.

3.Overall reflection:

Achieving the aim: we have got the output (a list of over 10 parameters) so the aim was partially achieved. The students seemed to be interested in the task:e.g. one of them had a suggestion to consider  "word count" important as before reading the text it gives an idea of which words are repeated or mostly used thus allowing to make some inferences of the content, plot, style etc. They asked for more time to work on the tasks, asked questions, asked if they can suggest a text for the analysis in the future.

Reference to Thinking Task Framework : in my opinion, we have passed step one (when we were comparing the lists of texts characteristics (values) referring to one an the same parameter) and step 2 - when we were  discussing and accepting the common parameters relevant for understanding any text. When they apply it to analyse a text and reflect how it will work - it will be step 3.

Conclusions: we have got a certain outcome, although the students still have a mixture of parameters and values on their lists, sometimes do  see which value refers to which parameter exactly. However, they are interested and feel positive. I felt quite good and not stressed. What helped me was giving them a chance to  work in groups before working all together.

# Alexander Sokol 2011-02-18 14:45
Larisa,
thanks for such a detailed post. A few ideas / questions below.

- for the students to test their ENVs of the text (and improve) you might want to ask them to describe a text using the ENV they developed. Or, better, the ENV of another person in the group.
- I don't know if you managed to do it, but it might be a good idea to get the students to reflect on the tool as such - the ENV of the text in this case - and the approach to creating it. In this case, it could allow you to specifically introduce the ENV as a model they can use for improving their tools. For this, they should become aware that a mix of parameters and values may be a problem. In other words, they need a task that could help them become aware of this. One possibility is the task I suggested above but more options are possible, of course.
- one interesting tools for visualising the text vocabulary and its frequency in a given text is www.wordle.net

Re the framework. Would you say that students felt that they needed a special tool for describing a text well? I'd say that Step 1 in this context would have been students' realisation that they can't describe a text well. Step 2 would then be working out a tool for describing a text (sth you called the ENV of a text) and understanding that the ENV model can help in this process. Step 3 would then deal with both the process of reflecting on the development and application of the tool (the ENV of the text) and how the thinking model (ENV) helped them in this process.
# Larisa Sardiko 2011-02-24 20:34
Alexander,

thank you for the ideas: I tried one of them this week.
Thank you for the site wordle.net - it is great to use, I hope I will when I figure out what I need to install, so far it did not work.

Re: thinking task framework. Thanks again for clarifying how to identify which steps we are passing. I agree with your interpretation.
However, I am inexperienced in getting them to realise that they cannot describe the text well. In fact, some of them were quite satisfied with their analysis and wrote that they did not learn anything new. And I have not introduced the ENV model yet - we were operating with the characteristics and names of features (parameters).
# Alexander Sokol 2011-03-09 10:54
Larisa,
students (and not only students) often believe that what they've produced is close to perfect. To my knowledge, the best way of challenging this is to get them to experience that it doesn't work. For exampple, it should be possible to find a text or a few that would be rather unconvential and thus any description based on the standard parameters students identified will inevitably contain lots of gaps. This might help them FEEL the problem.
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