Class 4:  (9 -10 year olds).
Subject: Finnish (mother tongue)
Teacher: Merimaija Heino
Observer: Susan Granlund
Teacher’s overall aim: to use a series of short fairy tales with tasks as a vehicle to help pupils build a strategy so that they can find more easily the most important points in a text and then be able to summarise or change it accordingly.
Content aim for this lesson: to introduce the challenge and help learners to find the main features of a fairy tale and the most important points for this task.
Thinking aim: recognising the features and values and thinking about how to do the task.

The teacher made a suggestion to the pupils, ‘The special needs teacher often comes and gives you tests connected to texts. Isn’t it time that you thought up a test for her, for a change?’
The pupils were hooked immediately and wanted to know how. She said, ‘What if we have a fairy tale she doesn’t know, and we summarise it for her in a text message – we can send it on my phone – and she’ll have to write a proper story out of it for us. Will she be able to?’  They all seemed to think this was a good idea.

They then discussed what this would mean. The teacher asked them about the differences between a fairy tale and a text message. They came up with some suggestions: 
- A fairy tale starts with ‘Once upon a time..’ You don’t tell things like that in a text message.’                  

- A text message is like just a small package.                                                                                             

– You only put the most important things in a text message.                                                                          

– The teacher asked how many sentences they might put in a text message and they suggested three or four.

The teacher then asked what they should do first and the pupils suggested reading a fairy tale and planning. The teacher had a short fairy tale ready and they agreed it would be fine, so she gave them all a copy and read it to them. It was called ‘The Wolf and the Pigs’ – you can read it in the Materials section here in English and here in Finnish.

The teacher then reminded the pupils of the challenge – to make a text message of the story - and asked them what they should do next. They didn’t know how to go on.

She asked, ‘What’s important in a text?’ in general. The pupils replied,
- Punctuation
- The title
- Paragraphs
The teacher then asked what a paragraph is and they agreed that it would be useful if they looked for the main point in each paragraph. They did this individually for a few minutes and then had a class discussion on the main points they came up with.
What’s important in general in a story? Teacher guided with questions and the pupils came up with the features and then suggested values.
WHO? = characters
WHERE? = setting
WHAT HAPPENS? = plot  
(I was wondering if the question WHY? might have been useful here too to bring out the problem which arose in the story?)
Finally they had the equivalent of an ENV of this story on the board:
The Wolf and the Pigs                Characters                The wolf, the mother pig, the pigs
                                                Setting                     The edge of the forest, the river banks
                                                Plot                          What happened there

The teacher then asked what they should do next? The pupils didn’t seem to know, and she read the story again. She then asked what the plot contains? How can we recognise it? This was a difficult questions and with the teacher's help they came up with the following and wrote it on the board:

- A beginning: The wolf was walking along by the forest. He wanted to eat the pigs.
- Something surpising: The wolf tried, and the pigs started swimming.
- The end: The pigs got away and the wolf was left with nothing.

This was actually like an ENV of the plot and looked like a possible summary of the story. The children copied this onto the story sheet they had.

Reminding again of task and reminding what to think about before doing task
The teacher then asked, ‘Is this enough? What else do we have to think about for a text message? We could maybe have only a certain number of words as three sentences might be too long, if someone decides to write very long sentences?’
What do we need to remove when we’re summarizing? The teacher read one sentence and one pupil suggested that adjectives could be left out.

The lesson finished and they agreed that next time they would all try to write their text messages on the basis of what they’d done this time.

My reflections as an observer
I thought the teacher was very motivating and had thought up a great challenge. The children were hooked from the beginning and their interest held throughout the lesson. It was a real-life task, and one they’ll be able to actually test out on the special needs teacher, so they can reflect on how good their summary was. It was also a difficult challenge for them, so they were stuck as to how to go about doing it.

It was also good that the chosen text was short and not familiar, and that the teacher kept reminding the pupils of the task, of their aim, throughout the lesson. This is something I often forget to do, and I noticed it makes things much clearer and more focussed.

When we talked after the lesson the teacher herself noticed that she’d been answering too many of her own questions and not giving the pupils enough ‘thinking time’. This is another thing I think is very hard too! Mostly the pupils thought about the questions alone and then there was class discussion, so we were thinking they could have had a short time alone, then discussed in pairs and then the whole class.

This task has so much potential. We were really trying to think how to make it more student centred…maybe the pupils could just have tried the task right away and then working on their attempts and evaluating them would have led to starting to build the stairs? Or they could have tried longer to think up a strategy of their own…rather as the teacher did, through questions? I was thinking, what if the pupils imagined a friend said to them, ‘Hey, I heard a great story yesterday!’, and you say, ’Tell me about it!’, and the friend says, ‘I don’t remember it now.’ What questions would you ask the friend to jog his memory of the main points? I was thinking children might automatically come up with the kinds of questions needed. From this they could start to build their own strategy?? I’m looking forward to seeing / hearing how this goes on!


# Kaisa Kelloniemi 2014-09-09 07:39
I think your task was really using the steps of TTF. You really managed to to make the task suitable for the children s' interests. Also you lead the children with right questions. However as it was said in the ending, maybe you could have give more space to children to answer the questions and even try to find the questions themselves. Did you thought about the possible answers before the tasks? Could the children have done the task without so many questions like it was said for example telling it to a friend? In the end task had great points, it was motivating and children actually thought about the answers. I'm curious, did you continue the task after that day and how were children s' text messages? Was there variety in answers and do you think everyone learned to make a summary?
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