This is a continuation of Making dog adverts Lesson 1. We finished the last lesson with the pupils writing their dog adverts. The task had been slightly different for each half of the class. Half were writing an advert to sell their dog, and they really wanted to sell it; the other half didn’t want anyone to really buy it (see Dog adverts 1 for details).

Content aims: Vocabulary, using third person ’s’ and doesn’t, writing and speaking practice.

Thinking aims: Still point of view,in particular looking at the same issue from different sides; making ENV and looking particulary at the function of the element (changing it) .

STEP 3  Reflecting on the adverts and the ENV      (We had finished the previous lesson at STEP 2.)

I took in all their adverts and for the next lesson I wrote them out on one sheet, so that we could all look at them. I also had adverts which two other classes had made, so there were  about 10 in all. (See Dog adverts by pupils.) We looked at any new vocabulary which came up and I mentioned one or two common mistakes. After each advert they put up their hands and said ’I want this dog because...’ or ’ I don’t want this dog because...’ and they had to give the reason from the advert which was strongest for them. At one advert many of them said, ’I don’t know if I want this dog.’ We wondered why and they said, ’There’s not enough information.’

It was great that they realised this themselves and it was then natural to start making a list of what was missing and then of all the things you need to put in such an advert, so that they were basically thinking up parameters. We agreed that the parameters for selling a dog had to be different from those for describing a dog. We ended up with a ’checklist’ or set of instructions for selling a dog, with age of dog, male/female, character, breed, price,contact number – after a discussion we decided the name wasn’t immediately important, nor maybe the colour of the dog. These adverts were fun, though the pupils did realise now that they didn’t all contain the kind of information that was needed.

STEP 1 again:  a new challenge. Now I told them they have to do the same task again, but they’re not allowed to lie. They must tell the truth. They had to go through the old adverts on the sheet I’d written out and cross out any sentences which couldn’t be true (we had a lot of discussion about what’s cheap and what’s expensive). Now they found it difficult to make the adverts, especially the ones who didn’t want to sell the dog.

STEP 2: building the stairs. Making an ENV. To help them I referred to our checklist and we made it into an ENV for selling a dog. E was selling a dog, N was the parameters we’d come up with, and for V the pupils chose suitable (true and either negative or positive) sentences from their adverts.

Reflecting on how we can use the ENV to help us. They agreed that this helped, but they still didn’t know how to be negative and truthful when they really like the dog. To help them with this I asked them for some negative and positive traits and we made a list with positive (good) at one side of the blackboard and negative (bad) at the other. They asked for quite a lot of English vocabulary and I gave it to them. We then began to think about how to say these things in a different way, so that it sounded better or not so good. For example we came up with...

                                           GOOD                                         BAD            

                                           energetic                                     too lively

                                           beautiful                                      has too long ears

                                           loves people                                 never leaves you in peace

                                           friendly                                        annoying

                                           furry                                            hard to keep clean

STEP 3 Doing the task again in a different way, using/testing the ENV.  By this time we had done a lot of work and I said they had to look back at their own original advert and make a new, truthful newspaper advert in three sentences only as an advert in the newpaper is so expensive. This forces them also to pick out the most important points in the checklist. (Many of the pupils now wanted to write a profile of their own pet, so they did that for homework.) We will review their newspaper ads together and store all their work in folders to return to at a later date.

Teacher refelctions on the task. The pupils enjoyed doing these tasks, and also the poorer pupils were motivated. In the process of thinking about and reflecting on the advertisements they read their (corrected) sentences many times and learned many new words and also began using ’s’ and ’doesn’t’ in context better and better. They had a lot more ’input’ than usual and themselves produced more language, both written and spoken, than usual. Although we spent more time on this topic than I had intended, it will help us with the next chapter in the book which teaches ’doesn’t’ and describes a person. They can look at the idea of an ENV of a dog (based on their sentences about the dog and on the profiles they write of their own pets), and then make an ENV of a person to help them to write a profile of their own grandparent after an interview.

This topic began to take off by itself once it started and it would seem to have endless scope for going round and round the framework – when I stop it to go on the next chapter, I’ll feel I’ve left something half done.

I realise that this idea of being negative and truthful when they really like the dog could lead to work with contradictions, but I really don’t know how to go about it. Where would I start? I think thinking about how to express things positively and negatively helped, but it don’t know if it was the best way to do it.

I was thinking that these particular tasks could be referred to later to look at adverts in general and at how they only give the positive sides of  a product: we could write the  ’truths’ from a particular advert negatively. This might be step towards them becoming critical readers.



# Renata Jonina 2011-11-25 12:37
Susan, i like that in your post you stick to describing steps. Especially i appreciate that you indicated what you mean under E, N and V in your task. Glad to hear you manage to reflect with your students, i feel that i skip this step all the time.
# Irina Buchinska 2011-12-04 22:08
Susan, I like your lesson, especially work with opposites, like seeing that a friendly dog can be sometimes annoying. I am working with a similar thing with my 7 formers. I think that introduction of limitation - the number of words and being realistic and truthful is really challenging, it's good that kids are ready to meet this challenge. I agree with Renata about using ENV and reflection. And I absolutely understand those kids who don't want to sell their pets. :)
# Alexander Sokol 2011-12-16 22:10
Let me join the group of people who like the task. In addition to proposing a real challenge that was accepted by learners (a very important part), I really like that it gives much more opportunities than we can seize at a given time. In other words, the task potential is quite high and this is great.
Many things are interesting to discuss but let me take one point. When speaking about Step 2, you are referring to building an ENV. May I ask why? Why exactly an ENV? Generally we say that at step 2 we help learners build stairs for copying with challenges. What exactly was the challenge for the learners? What did they need an algorithm / strategy for?
And one more moment. About the actual ENV you are describing. I am not sure I understand how elements, parameters and values work together here? May I ask you to give me an example of your ENV in action?
# Susan Granlund 2011-12-30 11:36
Thanks for all your comments! Alexander, you were asking why I built an ENV. The pupils actually started to make the new dog adverts, but got into a mess, and then I stopped them. My idea was that making an ENV for selling a dog, as opposed to just describing one in general, would help them to better organise their thoughts on how to make an advert which concentrated on the most relevant facts. Although we hadn't actually made an ENV for describing a dog in general, we had made a list of parameters. We now thought about the parameters necessary for selling the dog. So the element was Selling a Dog, and the parameters (which they suggested) were the information you'd need to give to sell a dog - price, character, age, breed, maybe reason for selling etc. Some of the sentences they'd written in their original adverts fitted as values - It costs..., It's friendly etc.

Maybe this wasn't Step 2 after all, but Step 3? In a way it was reflecting on their original adverts in a new situation and the ENV was supposed to help them to improve their adverts and make them more truthful. They did seem to see many of the flaws in their original adverts when started thinking about exact parameters for selling a dog. However, I must admit, I'm not at all sure about how and when to introduce the ENV in a particular topic and then to expand work on it to really help the pupils to see why we're using it. I'd be very grateful for any ideas/suggestions?
# Susan Granlund 2011-12-30 12:32
I just realised that in the reply above I was more or less restating what was in my actual post. The ENV at Step 2 came as a result of the reflections in Step 3, just before it, when we looked at their original adverts and discussed them. We talked about the parameters necessary for selling a dog, but at that stage didn't actually make an ENV, and the idea of the ENV was to organise the information more clearly.
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