LESSON 2: Using and Testing the strategy. (STEP 2) This post follows on from the three posts on starting TA in Class 3, Aims, Lesson 1 and Reflections

Aim: Content: to reinforce new vocabulary, especially the words, shape, type of food, colour and size, and round, oval, long, big, small. To broaden vocabulary further and practise speaking and listening through the password game.
Thinking: to reinforce the idea of parameters through vocabulary games , and to use the password game with different food words from last time in order to find more parameters for describing a food than we had in our original ENV.

Warming up, remembering what we learned
1. Describing and guessing. I described a fruit and they guessed. ‘It’s oval. It’s yellow and green and brown. It’s quite big. It’s a fuit.’ They guessed a pineapple.
2. Then I asked them to try. One of them said, for example, it’s long and orange. And the others guessed a carrot. They then did it in pairs. To do this they had to use the vocabulary they’d learned in the last lesson.
3. Vocabulary. While they were describing the foods I wrote up the ‘new’ vocabulary from the last lesson on the board. One class in particular had forgotten a lot and had to ask for help from classmates or me. One class seemed to remember everything very well, although during the previous lesson I’d felt they were less responsive (maybe they were concentrating well then?).
4. In the end we had the same words on the board as the previous time – round, oval, long, big, small, medium and fruit, vegetable and berry.  I asked again what the words told us about the food. Now they were able to say immediately shape, colour, type of food and size. We then pronounced the words again, acted them and played with them a bit.
5. Game to reinforce the vocabulary and the idea of parameters. I hid all the words and we played a game where I said a word (eg ‘round’) and they had to say the parameter (shape). In one class I played it with teams getting points, in another I just asked them to shout out the answer together, which actually turned out to be more fun, quicker and more effective. As soon as I could hear different answers they had to put up their hands and I kept repeating the same ones, in mixed up order, until they were getting them right.

Checking homework, which was also reflecting on the tool we’d made in the previous lesson (STEP 3)
6. We then took out the charts (more or less ENV) which they’d filled in with values at home. Before we checked them, I asked them if they thought it was an easy task and they said, yes, so they looked to see what their partner had written and realised that not all their answers were the same. In some cases the colour was unclear, and there were many variations on what was big and what was small, so we had a discussion about why size is unclear, and we decided it’s not a good parameter unless we compare it to the size of something else.
7. Many had written extra explanations of foods in their notebooks and one had added a parameter to the chart. She wrote: Where it is born, and the value was ‘flower’. It turned out she meant ‘Where it grows’ and we learned new words to put in the values – on a plant, under the ground, on a tree. They all added the new parameter and values to their charts.

Now we needed a new challenge which would let them see clearly what else was missing from the ‘tool’ we had. When they notice what is missing they can adapt it – all the time we are gradually moving towards making a tool which can be of general use, and not only for the foods we are describing now.

1. One of them came to the front and another of them wrote up a food word on the blackboard for the rest of the class to describe and for the one at the front to guess. I wrote up the sentences they suggested. At first it was very easy, and they used the same familiar foods again. They didn’t need to look at their charts at all.
2. I then increased the challenge by saying that they could put up any food, not just the fruit and vegetables and berries we’d been talking about. This made it much more interesting.
3. The first pupil to write up a word chose ‘Pineapple’, though I’d just described it and it was a fruit. However, the pupil at the front didn’t get it immediately. The rest of the class was very surprised she didn’t, so it was a challenge for them to think of more to say!

In the process of thinking up more sentences I asked them to check their charts, and they said, but we’ve said colour, size and so on. Eventually they started to think up more and asked for new words which I wrote up. In the end they had 10 sentences before she’d guessed. 

The sentences they suggested, in this order, were:
It’s yellow.
It’s oval.
It’s green.
It’s a fruit.
It’s big.
It’s medium.
It’s hard.
It’s not from Finland.
It’s like a rock.
It’s hard.
It starts with P.

I asked if there’s anything we should add to the chart to make it more useful and eventually they suggested the new words they’d asked for during the game (hard, from Finland, It starts with P). We tried to think what the parameters actually were, and we came up with ‘How it feels’ (hard and soft) and ‘Where it comes from’ (countries), so we added them to the charts and added the values suitable for the fruit and veg they had on the chart. We also wanted to add ‘The first letter of the word’, with letters of the alphabet as values. There wasn’t room for this on our present chart, so now we’re thinking together about what kind of chart would be useful – should we make a bigger one with more foods on it to fill in, or should we make a kind of ‘general’ chart, which could be used for any food? They had to think about this for homework, and again, as an extra exercise, they could practise describing more foods themselves.

Reflections on this lesson (here) also describe how the different classes reacted to it.

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