The overall aims are in my first posting (Describing families and people) and below, and they cover at least two chapters in the coursebook Wow!3.
: Learning new vocabulary – families, parts of the body and adjectives; learning to introduce and describe people, showing similarities and differences; learning and using he/she and his/her.
Thinking: Becoming aware of the parameters necessary to introduce and describe a person. Introduction to idea of ENV, practise in categorizing and noticing similarities and differences.    
In the first lesson we made a kind of ENV chart of the Simpson family and then did the same from the dialogue in the coursebook. In this next lesson my aims were as follows:-
Subject: Expanding vocabulary learning to parts of the body + more adjectives and understanding his / her.
Thinking: Working out the parameters for describing a person; noticing similarities and differences.
Materials: Sets of Happy Families cards with the names removed, so that there were only pictures.


We’d been singing ‘Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ quite a bit and the learners were becoming familiar with parts of the body in English.  Now I told them they were going to work in pairs with pictures which they had to sort, and I hoped that they would be able to explain the groups they had sorted at least partly in English (I was naively still working in old-fashioned ways and expecting to elicit ‘ His eyes are blue’ and the like, which would have been perfect for my linguistic aims!).

Step 1: (I was thinking the challenge here was connected to the sorting – having to find more and more parameters – and to having to explain their choices in English.) I divided the cards among the pairs of pupils (so they had about 24 random cards each - see, Happy Families.) and asked them first to divide the cards into two groups. They had a few minutes to do this, and some did it immediately, while some took the whole time, but came up with something in the end. I then wrote all their suggestions on the board. The groups they made were not what I’d expected – they had IN THE COUNTRY / IN THE TOWN; WORK / FREE TIME; MACHINES IN THE PICTURE/ NO MACHINES IN THE PICTURE – over three class 3 groups only two pairs came up with MEN /WOMEN or BOYS / GIRLS, which was what I’d expected. Of course, the pictures in the cards showed too much, as the people were all doing something, and this ‘distracted’ from my idea of looking at appearance. However, I accepted them all and obviously had to tell them a lot of new words along the way. Many of the things they suggested fit into the parameters for describing a person, such as job, hobbies etc. They enjoyed doing this and were all dying to tell me their own groups.

Next I asked them to divide the cards into 3 or 4 groups, but they couldn’t use the same groupings as before. Once more there was a time limit. They got busy, but found it hard, and the groups they came up with were often totally unrelated – like PEOPLE WITH HATS / PEOPLE WITH NO HATS / PEOPLE SITTING. Very few actually came up with what I thought they might – MEN / WOMEN / BOYS / GIRLS and FAIR HAIR / BROWN HAIR / RED HAIR / BLACK HAIR.

Step 2: (Working out parameters from their groupings.) We discussed the groupings they had come up with and thought together (see materials section ‘Blackboard groupings’) about whether or not they would help us to describe a person to someone else who couldn’t see them. We then eliminated such suggestions as OUTSIDE / INSIDE as they themselves suggested this didn’t help to describe what someone looks like. From their groupings we came up with parameters such as Hobbies, Jobs, Clothes, Hair Colour, Where they live, Boy/Girl.

Step 3: (Reflecting on the parameters we’d found out). I gave each pair one picture and asked them if they could describe this person – did the parameters we’d thought of help? Was there anything missing? They got stuck trying to say ‘His hair is brown.’, as they didn’t know ‘his/her’, so I showed them examples of sentences about two people and they worked that out. It was hard for them to write sentences in English, and they didn’t have much time left, but they managed a few using ‘He’s / She’s..’, ‘He’s got / She’s got..’ and his / her… They also came up with extra parameters – age, family , pets.

The lesson finished here and they had homework from their books on ‘his’ and ‘her’, drawing faces in their workbooks on the basis of a written description.

My reflections on this lesson
: During this lesson I began to wonder what I was doing! There should have been fewer cards for each pair and the pictures should have been clearer for my purpose without so many distractions, although maybe in the long run they weren’t a bad thing and led to quite a good discussion (in Finnish) on what is and isn’t important in describing a person. The thinking aims were partly met as we came up with some parameters for describing a person, though we didn’t actually build an ENV model. That we’ll do in a future lesson. At least the pupils enjoyed it and thought hard.

My linguistic aims of learning and using his / her were only met at the very end, although they did start to use them right away. All the primary children find his and her very hard to use as Finnish only has one word ‘hän’, which covers both, so I was trying here to get them to realise from the beginning how important it is to look at male / female. They didn't use the parts of the body or family words much in English, as they noticed different things from what I expected in the pictures. However, they learned other words instead.

Again I’m not quite sure if I went through the Thinking Task Framework properly and if I had a proper challenge. Should the pupils maybe have known why we were doing the sorting task (to find parameters to help us describe someone)? I’m finding it very hard to integrate the learning of very basic vocabulary with thinking, making a ‘proper’ challenge. Is it enough at the moment to be practising categorizing and learning to think in parameters? This can then lead on shortly to the example you suggested Alexander, of them finding something Finnish about the Simpsons, which would be more of a real challenge and where I could see if they realise they can look at the ENV model to help them.

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