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.


THINKING: My overall aim is still for them write instructions for writing about a country, but for this particular lesson I wanted them to try to work out for themselves what the main parameters for writing or talking about a country might be.
LINGUISTIC: Improving their English sentences, reading and listening in English.
MATERIALS: The sentences they had written previously about Finland. A handout consisting of these sentences and space to group them.

The first part of the lesson wasn’t particularly ‘thinking’. We watched some video about Irish dancing and about hurling and looked at their Irish text, so they are becoming interested and asking about things. Later we will be able to compare things with Finland and look at the parameters we’re talking about.

Next I gave them the handout with their sentences on it and I guess that was Step 2 on the Thinking Task Framework, as it continued from the previous lesson when they got stuck with the idea of grouping their own sentences. I had meantime looked through their sentences, numbered them and written them out, so that they were correct. I didn’t repeat the same facts when they came up often. I then left space on the handout for them to group the sentences in any way they wanted and to name the groups they formed. As I hadn’t got to the stage with this class of talking about opinions and facts, I actually named one group ‘opinions’ myself, so that they could separate these before deciding which groups the other sentences would fit in. They each filled in their own sheets, but they could discuss it with their partner if they wanted.They groaned when I gave out the sheets, but then became very interested in the task, and didn’t want to stop when the bell rang! They had only managed to sort a few, as they had to spend time reading the sentences first and then had to start thinking about possible groupings. They only had to write the number, not the whole sentence. Next time they’ll continue and then we’ll discuss their groupings and see what parameters they’ve come up with.

This seemed to work better than having them stick their sentences on paper, in that they’re having to work out the groupings for themselves and they’re seeing corrected versions of the sentences. I think that using the parameters they find to look at the rest of the Irish text will also flow on more naturally. However, this is taking time! I’m afraid they might get bored with it before I get to the point (writing instructions), so we’re doing a little of other things at the same time.


# Alexander Sokol 2011-03-09 10:19
Seems to be an interesting task to keep their motivation. They might need a new challenge here to see the point for writing instructions. Have you thought about it?
One idea might be a yes-no game where they have to guess a country. You may introduce it as simple geographical yes-no game getting them to reduce the research area by dividing the map. Then, you can invite them to choose a country they like (not Finland or Ireland) and be leaders of the yes-no game (in group / class). Plus limit the type of question - here you can use the parameters that appear from your grouping. If they like the idea, they will have to read about the country they choose (individual task), describe it via parameters (this will bring you quite close to the instruction already) and then giving a yes-no game to the class could be a bonus (might work if they like the idea of a yes-no game).
But this is just an idea - feel free to use if you like it but it'll probably be even more interesting if you do it your way.
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