Sep 23.

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.)
At this stage I was already quite stressed as we were too slow and it seemed that students were understanding less and less what’s going on. Moreover, I didn’t know how to make them build the model out of their replies they have come up with for this lesson. So I used their replies as an input for the draft model but it was actually my model that I imposed them. It was too ‘wide’ model which definitely had to be reduced but at that stage the most important thing for me was to finally come up with the rule.
So I provided the template on the board for depicting the model and asked for their input (what they came up with when analysing sentences) and was trying to formulate their replies in terms of ENV giving examples for every case. I asked them to put this model down and to motivate them to write I mentioned that I will allow to use the model on the test.
When the model was ready I asked students to do exercise to check it. We managed to check only 1 sentence and the rest had to be done at home.
During the next lesson we checked all the sentences and every time I asked students to explain their choice by using their ENV models. I encouraged them to introduce changes into their models and put down new examples but apparently everything was too imposed and for slower students too fast. Students had to do other tasks at home and try to use their models but I confess that I did not mange to control the result as I should have. We had to work on other topics before the test and taking into account I made too many mistakes with grammar task I just dropped them as the were without moving to the logical conclusion and any form of reflection.

Learners’ response and outputs (how they responded to the task and what they actually did in the lesson)
Students were providing input for building the model but apparently there were already too many templates they had to fill in so they barely saw the reason for filling in the new one. I failed to connect all their previous effort with the new one.
At a later stage, students also had to apply the imposed model and introduce changes/examples. But I should confess again that it was done very poorly due to unnatural and ‘painful’ appearance of the model itself.
So it is no surprise that the majority of students lost the thread of what and why they are doing and some of them were doing nothing at all.

Teacher’s role (what the teacher actually did and how)
When building the model the role of the teacher would be to help students to build their own models. But on my lesson I imposed my own poorly elaborated draft, though still trying to use students input.


3. Overall reflection on the lesson / task

Aim aspect (to what extent did we reach the aims?)
I would say that I failed with the aim and managed only to create negative feeling among my students.

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)
I didn’t know how to help students build their own models. I tried to use their input and build a common model together (sort of a parody on step 2 – build the steps with learners) but I did not manage to do it properly. If we speak about Step 3, then it was absent in my system just because I didn’t cope with the challenge of ENV-based system of tasks about past.
For the test, my students got the task to underline verb forms that refer to the past and group them. And they also had the task with putting the verb in the correct past form and explaining the choice with ENV (they were allowed to use the models if they had them).

Questions / conclusions for the future

  • Can anyone share experience on students building their own models? Any good ways of helping them to build steps?


# Alexander Sokol 2011-10-25 20:05
You sound too negative here - I don't think you failed with absolutely everything. We should probably try to understand where the problem occurred and why.
Can I ask you to share the model you 'imposed' on the learners? What's the situation with this model now? Do students still use it? if so, on what occasions?
Re your last question. I think the steps here is students' ability to actually build the steps that will help them in a given specific question. The steps that will help them resolve a particular problem.
# Renata Jonina 2011-10-27 19:18
I would not say that I sound negative, it's more upset then negative. I think I didn't manage to build the system and though the plan was there, the procedures of HOW TO come to the result were not elaborated, which resulted in the system being too much fragmented and some essential parts being missed.

Basically, I see 2 main problems now:
1. I am still not sure about how to scaffold learners in building the model. I would say the contradiction looks as follows: the model has to be common for everyone as I am building it together with the whole class on the blackboard (so far I have no clue on how to help learners build models individually so we do it all together) and it has to be individual because commonly built model will not work unless a student accepts it as his/her own. This can happen only if the learner puts his/her personal effort in the model.
2. I do not offer enough opportunities for applying the model. This 'applying' might be the solution for the above contradiction. Students apply 'common' model and modify it/put their personal effort in it when working with different tasks. So far my skills in making them work with the model are poor so the model is not used as much as it should be.
One of the possible solutions that came to my mind right now is to make students do grammar exercises at home in writing (select the task and explain your choice using the model) and collect their homeworks. This way I would see if they applied the model. So far, we were checking tasks orally so model might have been applied only when I asked 'why this tense form' and not when the task was done at home.

The problem is that after the test this model was abandoned. I don't provide exercises for using this model again and again. We move on with other tasks so I do not manage to control everything. But I am planning to finish one more Past part and then make a sort of a sum up, putting together two models students have.

Re your answer, I am afraid it does not reply my question but thank you for this attempt.
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