¦Private classes of English;

 ¦A group of 6 children aged 5-6;

 ¦Children attend the lessons once a week for 1h



1. Lesson / task description - before

Aim (sorting )

In terms of subject matter (revision of gender characteristics, vocabulary - clothes, appearance, counting, big - small)

In terms of thinking ( find similarities, introducing challenge to practice the ENV model via  finding similarities)


Materials I am going to use (Pass UNIVERSAL ACTIVITY CARDS - Sorting worksheet, acorns, nuts)

Tasks I am going to use (sorting tasks according to a given context)


2. Lesson / task description – after

 First I asked my SS to sit at two tables, because there were not enough place for everyone at one small table. I reminded them that they should explain why did they sit like this. First division was wrong - they sat chaotically and SS couldn't explain why did they sit like this. I suggested them to try again. They were thinking for quite a long time, so I gave them a hint, by moving a boy to the boys' table. After that some SS got the point and explained that one table is for boys and the other for girls. Then I told them to rearrange themselves. One girl (the oldest one) suggested to unite with a girl with the same striped pattern on her shirt. There was also a boy who was wearing the same pattern. The girls seemed to forget about him, so I had to put their attention to his shirt and they gladly took him in their "team".

Secondly, I shared the worksheets among SS with pictures of different objects (animals, insects, plants, fruit and vegetables). After the matching game, where they had to revise colours and show me what might be of that colour, SS had to find friends. One boy connected a carrot and a hare, explaining that hares eat carrots. Then he stopped searching feelling that his part in this job was done. Others connected a caterpillar and a butterfly, a dog and a zebra. There were poor (they are friends, because they like each other) and good connections (hares eat carrots). I noticed that SS at this age do not see the bigger picture. They have separate vision.

(( At the other age group (4 y.o.) children could not understand how to search for friends, or they connected them at a random, telling that they are friends, because they like each other...Here I helped them, telling to show me those who can run, crawl, grow in the soil, which are eatable or not. If I didn't tell it, the process would have stopped and I would loose group dynamics.))

 Thirdly, I asked to turn the page where there were sight words, starting with A and some pictures with explaining words (that had A inside). Here I wanted my SS to divide sightwords into two groups. SS had to idea how to do it. I suggested to put those words into long and short boxes (thinking that they would guess to look at the lenght of the words, at least to count letters). Only one boy guessed and divided the words by this feature. The rest of the group (5 children) still didn't get the idea.

 After these tasks we started games on the carpet. I divided my SS into groups of 2 and gave them a number of acorns and nuts. I thought they would work together in group, but as they are too little, they are still individualists and cannot share. So I asked each one in each group to divide acorns or nuts between a bear and a bird. (My two puppets – mediators. A Bear – is a language character and a Birdie is a thinking character). SS divided their items by quantity, in halves. Then I told them that the Bear is big and the Birdie is small and asked to divide the items so to feed both. Again, SS divided acorns or nuts by quantity, less - for birdie and more - for the Bear. I was stuck. How could I switch their attention to the quality of the nuts or acorns? I asked my SS to divide them otherwise and suggested that the Bear is very attentive to detail. He doesn’t like small marks on things. One girl (the oldest one, she is 7), got the point and divided her nuts to clean and dirty. Others didn’t seem to get it.

3. Overall reflection on the lesson / task

I think, that I poorly reached my goals – to teach my students to see more than one feature of the element. I didn't show or present them the range of feauters. Should I show or should I make them guess, think? HOw to do it if their knowledge is limited and they may not have these notions in mind? I wanted to be the least helpful, but I failed. I still gave them clues. I also failed to provide a suitable context for each task in order to motivate my students properly.

May be I should have discussed a number or features first and show them in a dialogue between my mediators and then ask my students to make the same with the objects? Wouldn’t that be copying, not thinking?

I decided to try sorting with the similar objects, like nuts or acorns and with different ones (pictures on the worksheet). The result at the first lesson was – very poor (up to 90 %) understanding of how to sort. Step 1 (start) – I gave the material and put them in the context. (Help find friends, who were lost in the forest on worksheet 1) and to feed a  big Bear and a small Bird). Step 2 (Build) – when I saw, that SS were stuck I offered help. Now I see, that a small dialogue between the mediators on the target language might show the way out. Step 3 (Summarize) – I forgot about this stage with my first group, but recalled with the rest 3 groups. My thinking character asked the SS did they like the game, what did they do first and then.  

I really should work more on the context – I seem to give bare tasks or if there is a context it doesn’t always work properly and I have to invent on the go additional situations and details, especially when surprised children start to ask clarifying questions.

At the moment I seem to know how to switch a child attention to the qualitative aspect of sorting in one way – to show it in the dialogue between mediators. But I haven’t tried it yet. It is only an idea, which needs my experiment. Still it may lead to a simple copying.  




# Alexander Sokol 2013-09-30 14:01
Diana, many thanks for the detailed sharing. I absolutely agree with you that it's very important to contextualise the tasks for the children. We never do sorting for sorting sake in real life, do we? So, it should be the same with tasks - the division into groups should help us. Some ideas for you:

- you tell the children that they will work in pairs today and there will be many different tasks. Each task they should work with a new person. With older children it might work as a real sorting (ie all pairs are formed according to the same parameter, eg colour of clothes). With younger ones, it might be 'Friends' game first to help them identify features;

- you ask the children to create a costume for one of your mediators. Children can again work in pairs / groups. Each group is responsible for different part of the 'costume', eg jacket, trousers, shows, hat, etc. They are presented with pictures of various parts (eg 6 different jackets, etc.) and should select one for a given purpose. The purposes can be presented through a dialogue of the mediator and the teacher: a) the bear is going to the 'sun party' where everyone is wearing 'sunny' clothes (sorting by colour), b) the bear is going to play snowballs with friends (sorting by how warm the clothes are), etc.

You might also note that sorting as such might be difficult for your learners as they don't have enough empirical knowledge to sort. In this case, you might need to organise some activities dealing with learning about various features of objects you will later ask them to sort (eg My Friends, Tower, etc.). This will not only help them with various features but may also make them more interested in the objects.
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