As we move through this Action for Vocabulary Project Lina Taweil and I are realising that old adage – ‘The more you know the more you realise that you do not know’. We are feeling greater satisfaction with our lessons. There is wonderful student engagement to the extent that at the end of one lesson where the focus was on analysing the language features (grammar) one student said – ‘That was so much fun!” Who would have thought?
Our students are gaining confidence in themselves because the learning has been well scaffolded and slowed down enough for them to ‘know what they know’ and to be able to articulate this knowledge. In teaching the structure of different types of text and the language features typical of these, while simultaneously incorporating the focus vocabulary and building on it using ‘hands on’ Science activities, we are somewhere in Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. All ‘systems are go’ and everything seems to be working towards engaged students who are using and explaining words that they have never heard before.
This past week’s major question, posed by our mentor, Cindy Valdez-Adams (@TESOLoz) was – ‘Which type of informative text would best suit our purposes for our rich end task?’
We wondered if we could teach both the Explanation and Procedural Recount types of text. The Explanation suited the purposes of explaining ‘how’ and ‘why’ composting occurs over a period of time. But the Procedural Recount seemed to fit the purpose of ‘being Scientists’ and recording the experiment of composting and recording the observations. The Procedural Recount requires past tense verbs, connectives, writing in the first person, adverbials and connectives to sequence events. The Explanation requires the use of different language features, like simple present tense to indicate the general nature of the information, relating verbs to connect cause and effect, passive voice as opposed to the active voice of Procedural Recount to bring the object undergoing the process to the foreground and nominalisation to summarise the events and name any phenomena that are noticed.
Not wanting to confuse our students with the different structures and features, we have decided that the Procedural Recount best serves our purposes. We will begin with an investigative question, differentiate between materials and equipment, describe the processes sequentially and note the results. The challenge will be writing the conclusions at the end, as the conclusion is more like an Explanation.
This past week, the focus was on Procedural Recounts, their structure and language features. 4/5T, Miss Taweil and I have been constructing and deconstructing together to explicitly teach this with regard to worm farming. The transfer is happening as the students take this knowledge, the concepts and vocabulary learnt and write a procedural recount about ‘Composting’.
How well we succeed will be next week’s news.