Sep 20.

1. Lesson/task description before

Subject matter: help learners find the difference between using 3 verbs forms that refer to the past (DID, HAD DONE and WAS DOING).
Thinking: help learners build the rule for distinguishing between 3 verb forms that refer to the past using ENV.


Materials/tasks I am going to use


2. Lesson/task description – after
Procedures (how we worked: time, organisation, etc.)
The majority of students in one group were ready with the table and answers to the questions. However, I made a mistake on the previous lesson and didn’t give them all the sentences for concept questions so they lacked some forms. Thus I gave them task 4.2. and asked to add these new sentences to their tables and reply the same 4 questions about them. This should have definitely be avoided and task 4.2. should have been given as a home task together with 4.1. To make the work quicker, I asked students to take only 4 sentences and leave the rest.
After students replied the questions I asked them to underline verb forms in every sentence and compare if they had the same replies ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for the same verb form. If their reply was different they had to agree with oneself and come up with either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for the same form.
When they agreed with themselves they had to summarise the ‘pre-rule’ in the following form (make affirmative/negative sentences instead of a question for every form).
The lesson was over before students could complete the tasks so their homework was to finish them at home.


Learners’ response and outputs (how they responded to the task and what they actually did in the lesson)
Students had to think about sentences when replying to concept questions. Students had to finalise the table by writing their replies. They had to find inconsistencies in their replies and come up with only one answer for every verb form. They had to summarise what they came up with in a certain form.


Teacher’s role (what the teacher actually did and how)
The teacher provided templates for analysing sentences and gave students hints to check their own replies about verb forms.


3. Overall reflection on the lesson / task

Aim aspect (to what extent did we reach the aims?)
I think the task had the potential to help students to move towards building the rule and thinking about differences between 3 verb forms. At the same time, the tasks were too long and time consuming and for some students sentences were too difficult. Some students were not doing the task as the difficulty was too high. I failed to preview this as a potential difficulty and make the task easier (e.g. in terms of number of sentences to be analysed, in terms of material that would already be printed out so that students would only need to focus on the content of sentences).


Tasks & materials aspect (how did we work on the tasks to reach the aim? Please make specific references to the steps of the thinking task framework)
As mentioned above, the challenge for some students was too high. Work with the system has already taken much time and we did not move towards the result quickly, thus students started to lose the thread and wondered what we are doing and why.


Questions / conclusions for the future
I would say that apart from the system being too long and time consuming (I had to reduce it and give students printed out tables to make them focus only on the analysis) there might have been too many forms offered to students so they just lost the track of what has to be done and why. So maybe it would be worth thinking if one needs to make so many pre-steps on the way to the rule or there is a shortcut. From my point of view, all the templates offered are useful if worked with properly, having less sentences for weaker students and being printed out instead of having the need to re-write sentences. But I might be wrong so any advise on shortcuts are highly welcome.



# Alexander Sokol 2011-10-25 19:54
Renata, can you say a few words about the type of difficulties students were facing? Were they connected with deciding on the answer to a concept questions, finding differences in answers to the same questions, moving from the list of answers to the rule, sth else?
When you are speaking about shortcuts, can you define the requirements to them? Shortcuts should help the teacher to ... in order to ...
# Renata Jonina 2011-10-27 18:43
Good question about the type of difficulties students were facing. I would say difficulties were different: a) some weakest students simply couldn't translate sentences. Maybe they would cope with few of them but once I gave the whole system they just got lost and didn't make any effort to understand; b) some students couldn't understand what is meant in the concept question (how to reply it), for example, "does the speaker want to show when the action started". It's not quite clear how to find the reply to this question in the sentence. In this case, I just asked what is the action expressed in the sentence and if they felt the sentence 'contains' speakers wish to tell us when this action began. In fact, I was not much worried here, just told them to reply the way they feel. I guess the transition from the list of answers to the rule and later rule application would have helped them to clarify many points. But this stage - moving from the list of answers to the rule - was the most difficult to my mind. I do not know how to make them move to it, thus instead of scaffolding them in this 'move' I merely imposed my model. I was trying to use students input for building the model but in fact I feel it was more imposing my draft model then using their results.

Re shortcuts. I would say shortcuts should help the teacher to control the level of the challenge of the task in order to make every student work on the level which is appropriate for him/her (shortcuts should help the teacher to facilitate the task for weaker students while stronger ones are working on the level of a higher difficulty).
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