Designing a Unit of Work - Literacy in Australian schools

Category: Education

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@ Jo Humphries, Charles Darwin University, School of Education


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EAL201: Assignment 2:

EAL201: Assignment 2 Student Name: Joanna Humphries Student Number: s220647 Email Address: Tutor: Ania Lian Due Date: 04/05/2013 Extension Granted: YES NO

Learning Context:

Learning Context This PowerPoint discusses a unit of work developed for a Grade 7 high school class with diverse learning needs, including students with English as an additional language (EAL). These students have functional English and need support to develop their cultural and academic understanding. The students each have a laptop which is connected to the internet. A central online learning environment ( Learning Place ) enables students to access and work through activities at their own pace. While the unit outcomes include Science, English, Literacy and General Capabilities, this presentation will focus on explicit planning for students’ acquisition of Standard Australian English (SAE). Academic scientific texts contain specialised vocabulary and use language in a way which is generalized and abstract. Students can only access scientific concepts and ideas through understanding this scientific language . Students' success depends on their ability to understand this discourse (Gee, 2004; Lemke, 1990, cited in Honig , 2010). From a literacy perspective EAL students, still acquiring basic literacy skills in English, are required to “ find information; interpret and apply that information; ask , answer, describe, explain, and make predictions, all in a language which is still in its developmental stages .” (Carrier, 2008)

Unit Objectives:

Unit Objectives Unit Focus : “Interesting Things” (Science investigations) Literacy Focus: The overall learning objective is to build on each student’s existing capability by providing opportunities to expand their communicative competence in an authentic context which they can recognise as relevant to their purpose. The students are introduced to the main assessment task at the outset, because effective learning occurs when it is “ active, goal-directed, ” and “ personally relevant ” (APA, 1997). Learning Outcomes*: Support students in developing the ability to - Distinguish between journalistic texts and scientific text /investigations Recognise language features, and Know which types of texts they belong to Understand that words have different but often related meanings in other contexts Translate information from science investigations, to Create new texts of a different genre (journalistic texts) * Specific ACARA outcomes in notes

Unit Overview:

Unit Overview Wk Lesson Topic Activity 1 1 Identify learning objective & assessment Create model for final assignment 2 Distinguish between Scientific & other texts Investigate visual & structural differences between texts 3 & 4 Assignment 1: Students create a multimodal text which identifies features of the different text types compared - scientific texts/investigations & journalistic texts. 2 5 Identify purpose of science investigation , elements & positioning of elements Group Activity 6 Recognise language features Structure 7 Length & Language - Bullet points - Section headings - Short paragraphs 8 Impersonal language 3 9 Cohesive devices 10 & 11 Compare & Contrast – science investigations & journalistic articles 12 Assignment 2: In groups, students develop an interactive quiz based on identifying the language features of these text types. 4 13 & 14 Translate information from science texts to create journalistic articles 15 & 16 Assignment 3: Students create a multimodal text (journalistic article), based on “interesting things” learnt through their science investigation. This is published in the school newspaper.

Resource Design:

Resource Design By understanding that “ people construct new knowledge by building on their current knowledge” (Brandt, 1998); inclusive teaching recognises that students have differing needs and provides a learning environment which enables all students to “ rearrange what they know and in so doing to build increasingly powerful connections ” (Lian, 2013). Students need opportunities to discover things for themselves rather than being passive recipients of knowledge (Lian, 2013). By structuring the learning environment so the resources are the main information source, students engage on an equal basis, comparing and contrasting their own understanding with those found in the resources. (Lian, 2013) It is essential that resources are equally accessible, catering for the diverse needs and varied learning styles of students from all backgrounds . This approach prevents bias against culture specific forms of knowledge and supports EAL learners in building from what they already know (Lian, 2013). Using science and other texts, learning resources are created for students to explore in order to understand differences in tools that different texts use to suit their audience and purpose . These resources must allow students to – “compare different text types in terms of their features and communicative objectives contrast how exactly these features make a difference between one text and another. See how the same features are used to achieve different communicative impact . evaluate the relevance of the understandings constructed as a result in relation to their assessment tasks .” (Lian, 2013).

Introducing The Unit:

Introducing The Unit Learning language occurs through having to communicate real meaning (British Council, n.d . ), therefore classroom activities must have an authentic context, which students can recognise as relevant to their purpose. In science, the students will be exploring investigations. They will investigate lots of “Interesting Things” and their main assessment task will be to plan, complete and write a formal report on an investigation of their choice. To introduce the English connection, the school principal will send the students an email inviting them to write an article about their science projects to be published in the school newspaper.

What’s In An Article? :

What’s In An Article? To begin this project students evaluate different articles from past school newspapers in order to determine what the task involves. WITHOUT reading (focusing on layout and visual interpretation) students draw a picture to represent their chosen article. This enables students to generate a basic understanding of what is expected for their final assignment task (overall objective) from the beginning of the unit. Students are then able to discuss and develop ideas for the content based on activities and investigations their science classes. Title: BIG WRITING Subtitle: Smaller writing Caption: Little writing Name

PowerPoint Presentation:

Title Subtitle Headings Short paragraphs Table Students are able to click the mouse to advance the animation , this highlights different elements of a range of texts (as demonstrated here*). In the next section, students are asked to add in coloured boxes and labels on further sample texts. Offering a range of examples allows students to see for themselves how different texts have different elements, it also means that no single text is used as a “bible” for that text type. In this example of a science text, there is a table, however there are no bullet points which is another example of a language feature of science texts. Scientific Report 1. Distinguish Between Scientific & Other Texts * Use slideshow view to see this slide with animation

Assignment 1:

Assignment 1 Title Headings Short paragraphs Long paragraphs Table Photograph Caption X X X Based on the exploratory resource students can now create a multimodal text which identifies features of the different text types compared - scientific texts/ investigations and journalistic texts. These models can be displayed in the classroom. Students can group them together based on similar features. This also demonstrates that although there are patterns in text types, not all texts of the same type are identical. Newspaper Article Title Long Paragraphs Photo & Caption * See notes for assignment description

Group Activity:

Group Activity In order for students to be able to identify the purpose of science investigation texts and understand the elements and placement of elements, we will complete a whole class activity leading in to group work. We generate a simple investigation question – e.g. “Who is the tallest student in the class?” Using their knowledge of the elements which can be found in investigations, and using the question mark as a clue, students can identify this as a QUESTION. Notes will be made by students on the IWB as the activity progresses. Some students might call out (“ John ”) prompting the response – “ How can you prove it ”? Students may suggest options like “ take a photo ” or “ measure everyone ”. Using the templates on the walls students can identify the heading EVIDENCE for this information. Students may then be prompted to recognise that in order to take a photograph or record heights they might need a camera or measuring tape. Working through like this the students identify and create a model for an investigation. In groups students then identify an investigation question and create their own model. Students then swap investigations and provide feedback to the other group on how it could be improved or made clearer (for example, you put the materials needed at the bottom, but you would need to know that at the beginning).

2. Recognise language features:

2. Recognise language features The first activities will enable students to identify the basic structure of science reports and newspaper articles. To develop a deeper understanding of the elements they have identified, student’s will investigate resources which explore the following language features: Structure – Question , method, evidence, conclusion Length & language writing tools - bullet points, section headings, short paragraphs Impersonal language Cohesive devices – repetition (use of the same words to avoid ambiguity), substitution (when scientific experiments do not work out as expected, they are often considered failures), sequencing conjunctives (firstly, secondly, in conclusion, by contrast) References Where appropriate, ways of examining the different texts will be modelled on the IWB using highlighting or other whiteboard features.


Structure Activity: Question, method, evidence, conclusion Students explore an interactive PowerPoint which supports their understanding of text organisation (click to view embedded example bottom right). Initially students are given a model text (scientific report). The students are able to manipulate the elements of the report into the correct position, this allows them to evaluate how the positioning of the different elements affects the meaning. Audio files are provided so students can hear any unfamiliar words. The PowerPoint is hyperlinked so students can click on elements of the text and be taken to sub pages which further break down these elements. As the students become confident, the resource includes journalistic texts which are broken down in a similar manner. Then the students are given language features from the t wo texts types and must evaluate them, determining which they belong to . Click on this link to go to the PowerPoint

Length and language writing tools:

Length and language writing tools Example: Bullet points For today’s lesson, you need to turn on your computer and go to the L earning Place. Once you are there, you will find some sample paragraphs. Try to take the key information from each sentence in the paragraph and make it into a bullet point list. How do the bullet points change the paragraph? Do all the paragraphs work successfully converted to bullet points? Today: Go to the Learning Place Read paragraph 1 Re-write paragraph 1 using bullet points Which is longer the bullet points of the paragraph? What happens when you change paragraphs into bullet points?* Why do we use them? * See notes

3. Understand that words can have different but related meanings:

3. Understand that words can have different but related meanings cohesion Example: Cohesion Alignment of classroom content between science and English allows students to understand concepts from multiple perspectives. Students discover the scientific theory of cohesion through investigation ( cohesion experiment , water games ) and develop a deeper understanding of the concept of cohesion which they can apply in relation to texts. An interactive resource (click on embedded powerpoint to right) will allow students to compare and contrast passages with and without cohesive devices. The resource will then offer students activities in identifying and playing with connectives, substitution and repetition . YouTube Resources * Further resources for cohesive writing - see notes section . Click on this link to go to the PowerPoint

Elements of journalistic writing:

Elements of journalistic writing Captions and Photographs In groups, students are given a sequence of images /photographs (or create their own). The group creates a back story for the pictures and then use this to write captions for each image. The groups present their work to the class who has to guess the back story. This allows the student to evaluate the role of pictures & captions in telling a story .


Positioning/Perspective Students will find a selection of resources on the Learning Place. In an animated PowerPoint*, students will evaluate images to determine how they are being positioned to feel about characters in the picture ( eg . “Is the wolf good or bad? What makes you think that?” ). Then the students can read or watch - “ The three little pigs ” - the traditional European version ( YouTube link ) “ The true story of the three little pigs ” – an alternate perspective ( YouTube link ). Students will (through the online resource) compare and contrast sections of each text – identifying how the language is positioning them in each version. (for example:” the big bad wolf ” or “ a sly old wolf “compared with the second text “ that rude little porker ” – NB “porker” would need further contextual explaining) Students identify ways this version is different based on the way the text has positioned them – identifying the descriptive and emotive language. P ositioning steers the reader to the perspective of the person writing it. Students are asked to imagine that the wolf has been captured. They can choose whether they think the wolf is innocent or guilty and create a news report on the situation. In groups, students may create a news video, audiotape, or a podcast in place of the written newspaper article. These are presented to the class who have to decide how the article is positioning them.

4. Know which types of texts language features belong to:

4. Know which types of texts language features belong to Assignment 2 In peer groups, students develop an interactive quiz or game where players progress through identifying the language features of these text types. A model is provided, but students have the option to create the quiz using PowerPoint, online resources ( eg quizstar ), handwritten or drawn, in the form of a board game or puzzle or a quiz . Through adopting the role of quizmaster students have to communicate their understanding of text features. In completing other students activities, it is possible to assess each child’s level of progress and identify any areas of uncertainty which may need redressing.

Compare & contrast the effects of language features in different texts:

Compare & contrast the effects of language features in different texts Students determine which language features belong to each text type, using an interactive Venn diagram which enables them to manipulate and arrange their responses. Journalistic Article Logical sequence; title, introduction, topic paragraphs, conclusion. Headings relate to or summarise content Sentences are usually long & complex Emotive Language is used to position & persuade the reader Connectives Substitution TEXT FEATURES Structure Length Language Cohesive devices Scientific Report Headings are very specific and pre determined; title , question, materials method, results, evidence, conclusion Concise statements. Uses bullet points & numbered lists to shorten Impersonal language is used in factual unbiased statements. Specialised vocabulary Connectives Repetition of key words Substitution Having gained a deeper understanding of both text types and explored the language features of each, students compare and contrast the two text types to evaluate how language features are used for different effects. For example : Bullet points and concise sentences allow the science investigation to be short. The headings make it easy to find information and understand what the scientist has done. Impersonal language and repetition mean that the text is clear and unbiased.

5. Translate information from science investigations:

5. Translate information from science investigations In their science class, students will complete an investigation on which types of feed and feeders attract the most native birds ( link ) and will construct a report which models their science assessment task. Using this report the students will explore ways of translating the information from the science report to create a model newspaper article. Click on this link to go to the PowerPoint

6. To create new texts:

6 . To create new texts Assignment 3 Students create a multimodal text (journalistic article), based on “interesting things” learnt through their science investigation. Students may chose to use online t ools like printing press . These articles will be published in the school newspaper and this marks the conclusion of the unit.


Summary This unit intends to meet the challenges of: Promoting learner-centred activities Creating an inclusive learning environment Addressing the concerns / meeting the interests of students Focusing on developing communication skills in context Through: Adopting an exploratory approach which places the student in control of their own learning Providing a range of quality tools and resources which support students in using their cognitive and sensory systems to develop their communicative ability (Lian, 2013). Enabling students to investigate their own questions regarding the “interesting things” they discover. Establishing authentic purpose for communication, students’ language skills and understandings are engaged authentically.


References American Psychological Association (1997). Learner-centred psychological principles . Retrieved from http :// Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (2013). Australian Curriculum – Year 7 . Retrieved from http :// Brandt , R. (1998). Conditions for powerful learning . Retrieved from http:// British Council ( n.d. ). Communicative approach. Teaching English . Retrieved from http:// Carrier , K. (2008). Supporting science literacy learning through science objectives for English language learners . Retrieved from Honig , S. (2010). Supporting Scientific Language in Primary Grades . Retrieved from Lian , A. (2013). Discussion board posts . Retrieved from ELA201, Charles Darwin University Blackboard Online: Lian , A. (2013). Module one - EAL/D Indigenous learners and learning . Retrieved from ELA201, Charles Darwin University Blackboard Online: Lian , A. (2013). Module two – Teacher’s role and communication . Retrieved from ELA201, Charles Darwin University Blackboard Online: Lian , A. (2013). Planning . Retrieved from ELA201, Charles Darwin University Blackboard Online: Lian , A. (2013). Lecture 1 (PPT) . Retrieved from ELA201, Charles Darwin University Blackboard Online: Lian , A. (2013). Lecture 2 (PPT) . Retrieved from ELA201, Charles Darwin University Blackboard Online: Lian , A. (2013). Sheep or Two – EAL201 Game (PPT) . Retrieved from ELA201, Charles Darwin University Blackboard Online: Lian , A. (2013). Tutorial – lecture week 3 (PPT) . Retrieved from ELA201, Charles Darwin University Blackboard Online:

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