Slides from our (study group 1) presentation of chapter 2 from Pauline Gibbons’ Scaffolding Language Scaffolding Learning.
Student’s text: A Resumé of How The Sun Came To Be
How The Sun Came To Be
The story is about a young woman. The woman have has been promised to be married with a man. She was gone for a long time. [Student left out important part, which could have aided with further understanding of the following sentence] When she arrived to a camp was there no food and no water. There was no place to sleep (fractioning sentences). The woman was hungry, thirsty and she was tired but the young woman has not given up because she felt that she was strong. And the woman went back to her own people. Afterwards the woman and her people walked over to a camp, where they sat down and ate food and drank some water. The young woman made a campfire (fractioning sentences). She made the campfire, and after the build she made it even bigger, so the people could be warm. So (missing: she) used the whole day building the campfire, so all the people could (missing: be) warm (repetition). After she saw that her people was happy. Her people was very grateful for the warmth, so they called her campfire the sun (missing: full stop)
Made by B.
Reflections on Susanne Jacobsen’s text Right then, write! published in Sproglæreren (april 2011)
Since the simple goals (Fælles Forenklede Mål) was adopted in 2009, it has become a task to all language teacher, not just Danish teachers, to work towards creating fluency and literacy within the students, thus Susanne Jacobsens article, speaks about how the language teachers should relate to this. This reflection will focus on the aspects of English as a subject in the Danish primary schools.
English has become a lingua franca on a global level, where only people with a decent understanding of the English language can orient themselves in the democratic debate within the global arena (p. 25). Thus, English is an indispensable source of knowledge and information and a weighty bildung factor (dannelsesfaktor). Meaning that not only are the students learning the language, but also about the language to understand the subject itself. One of the factors that Jacobsen highlights is scaffolding, as it is significantly important, when working on verbal communication and understanding of the language, which is highly context-dependent. When students are corporately working or they are interacting, the teacher can scaffold by offering the here-and-now vocabulary which is needed by the individual students – both previous to and during the task. Gibbon (2009) from the Australian genre-pedagogy states that the point is that, the gap between action and context-dependent language for some students is insurmountable, unless the scaffolded report is included (p.26). This means that group work, when learning a L2 language, is very important and highly beneficial for the students because they eventually will end up in a situation, where they have to discuss or bargain with group members, thus enabling them to test out their individual interlanguage hypotheses. Group work further fuels the sense of trust, which is an absolute necessary foundation for all language acquisition (Jacobsen og Olsen, 2011). The actual group work itself can then work as a type of scaffolding, that improves their language skills as they have to write later on – which is more complex, as writing often is a non-context dependant task. It is important, that the students learn to read and write nominalisations, i.e., words that are often constructed from verbs, but made into nouns, because it enables them to deal with abstract terms in an appropriate and complex language when writing. Jacobsen suggests sentence-matching games where the student has to compare a everyday language sentence with an abstract sentence with nominalisations, thus this allows students to find and realise, that persons and actions hide behind nominalisations (p.27).
The advanced level of communication in the English language, that the Danish students learn, is what gives the Danish school system points on the global scale (p.27), and Jacobsen adds, that if we don’t teach them this, we let down the students from a lower socio-economic background. It is the teacher’s task to create the contexts, in which the students can produce exactly the language, that fuels learning (Derewianka, 1990).
Deriwianka, B, (1990): Rocks in the Head: Children and the Language of Geology, in: Carter, R. (red.): Knowledge about Language and the Curriculum. Hodder & Stoughton.
Jacobsen, S. (2011): Right then, write!. Sproglæreren
Jacobsen, S. & Olsen, M. (2011): Om klasseledelse og tryghed I engelsklærerens optic, in: Schmidt, M. (red): Klasseledelse og fag – at skabe klassekultur gennem fagdidaktiske valg, Dafolo
Reflections on Scaffolding Young Writers, Chapter 1; The Development of Young Writers, by Linda Dorn & Carla Soffos
Writing, the action, has both a social and a cognitive side. “Writing is by nature a social process. Writing represents the means by which a message can be communicated to someone else.” (p.2) Children uses inquirers such as “What does this say?” as foundation for learning how to write. Children that come from homes of writing environments before they start school. have already acquired critical understanding for learning about the writing process (p. 2). Healy (1994, p.2) talks about the cognitive side of writing, and describes that for a child to start the writing process, the child must understand and pull together ideas (feelings, emotions and images) or knowledge from their own memories, desired to be communicated. “Language becomes a tool for consolidating bigger ideas into original statements while choosing the best words and placing them in the correct order.” (p.2), which is a complex process driven by a personal need to express a message. The more meaningful and personal the idea is for the child, the easier it will be for the child to use its transcription skill. Scaffolding the child at appropriate points is a tool of mediation, that then helps the child’s ability to orchestrate the social, cognitive, and mechanicals sides of writing, thus writing is a learned skill, shaped through practice and constructive feedback, which further helps the child to become a self-regulated writer (Harries & Graham:1999). Writing itself is a very complex process, which you have to recognise, when teaching young learners, after having identified ideas and words for expressing them, the writer then has to read, revise the text by e.g., deleting unnecessary words, sections or rearrings sentences, and paragraphs, to clarify concepts. Thus the next level of complexity is added as the writer has to consider the receiver’s (read: reader or audience) need and experience of the text and, their knowledge of the given idea, concept or information. During the act of writing, the writer will develop and apply strategies of organising, monitoring and revising the specific message to the particular audience (p. 3). According to Healy (1994, p.3) developing a well-orchestrated writing process depends on the interrelatedness of the following three aspects; comprehension of ideas, expressive language and facility with mechanics. It is the teacher’s role to strive to create a balance between the child’s composing and transcribing skills, yet the ultimate goal of teaching is to promote an orchestration process, which happens at the intersection where old knowledge meets new knowledge i.e., if the child has too many new things to learn, this can interfere with the orchestration process (p. 4). There are specific benchmark behaviours along a continuum of writing control with young writers, and the primary grades are critical times for shaping orchestration. Therefore the teacher must recognise the behaviours that indicate how students are becoming writers, and to promote this process, teachers can ask four simple questions:
Levels of writing competence
The emergent writer
Greatest challenge occurs with transcribing the message. Here teacher can guide the child to learn to use simple resources to assist problem-solving efforts. Risk-taking behaviours are the basis for early monitoring, searching and self-correcting actions, which are the foundation for successful writing. As the emergent writer practise reading behaviours, it allows them to make logical and realistic predictions for the upcoming words and phrases (p. 7).
The early writer:
Here the writer has begun to think about the length of their stories, and it is common for the writer to evaluate their words with comments such as “Look at how many pages I wrote!” (p. 8). The early writer will move from chronological accounts to more focussed pieces, that sustains the theme throughout. The teacher can introduce the early writer to new resources, including writing forms and checklists, serving as self-help guides to promote independent thinking. It is important, that the child must possess the knowledge and skills to use these resources in productive ways (p. 9)
The transitional writer:
The transcribing skills of young writers are faster and more automatic, thus the control frees their attention to focus more actively on the craft of writing (p. 9).
In conclusion, to develop independent writers, the teacher must consider both the cognitive and social sides to learning by being attuned to what the child already knows.
Dorn, L. J. & Soffos, C. (2001): Scaffolding Young Writers: A Writer’s Workshop Approach. Stenhouse Publishers