Reflection 2: Phonetics and Children’s Poetry

I have chosen to write a reflection based on an activity in lesson 4: Students’ Oral Intercultural Communicative Competences: Phonetics & Childrens’ Poetry on the 23rd of February 2018.

We had to make a teaching sequence working with phonetics and poetry (or lyrics) and chose to plan a lesson for a 7th grade using the lyrics from the song Part of Your World from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

The lyrics:

Part of Your World

[ARIEL, spoken]

Maybe he’s right. Maybe there is something the matter with me

I just don’t see how a world that makes such wonderful things could be bad…

(sung)

Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat?

Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?

Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl, the girl who has everything?

Look at this trove, treasures untold

How many wonders can one cavern hold?

Looking around here you think, “Sure, she’s got everything”

I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty

I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore

You want thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty!

But who cares? No big deal, I want more

I wanna be where the people are

I wanna see, wanna see them dancin’

Walking around on those – what do you call ’em? Oh – feet!

Flippin’ your fins, you don’t get too far

Legs are required for jumping, dancing

Strolling along down a – what’s that word again? Street

Up where they walk, up where they run

Up where they stay all day in the sun

Wanderin’ free – wish I could be

Part of that world

What would I give if I could live out of these waters?

What would I pay to spend a day warm on the sand?

Bet’cha on land they understand

Bet they don’t reprimand their daughters

Bright young women sick of swimmin’

Ready to stand

And ready to know what the people know

Ask ’em my questions and get some answers

What’s a fire and why does it – what’s the word? Burn?

When’s it my turn?

Wouldn’t I love, love to explore that shore up above?

Out of the sea, wish I could be part of that world

 

Learning objective(s):

For the students’ to be able to identify and make arguments for hidden themes within lyrics

Pre-task (scaffolding):

  • The students listen to the song whilst they have lyrics
  • Initial thoughts on the text
  • Working with the difficult language and introducing the glossary list with difficult words (bolded in the text) + the “nonsense”/silly words are marked in blue

During:

  • In groups they take turns to read it the lyrics out loud (we have marked the nonsense words and the glossary is on the bottom of the page).
    • One student is reading the lyrics to the song out loud, the others are marking the spoken-like language (bet’cha, the missing ‘g’ wanderin’)
  • Students find themes hidden in the lyrics

Post:

  • In plenum: discuss what they found and write on the board. Teacher can add themes and ask the student where that could be interpreted:
    • Materialism, to always want more (Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat?… But who cares? No big deal, I want more)
    • Doubt (maybe he’s right (..)  there is something wrong with me)
    • (Be)longing
    • Family troubles; lack of freedom (Bet they don’t reprimand their daughters)
    • Body dysmorphia (Legs are required for jumping, dancing)
    • Curiosity
  • Reading with ‘feeling’; reading verses according to the found theme(s)
  • Summary of the themes and relevance to contemporary issues

We tested the sequence with a different group, recording the presentation/introduction, the activity itself and the feedback. Afterwards, we listened to the recording together and commented on each other’s feedback (along with pronounciation).

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Analysis of Gyldendal Fagportral

This reflection encompasses the analysis of a teaching material / sequence platform conducted during a lesson.

Teaching Sequence: Southern Africa (for lower secondary school)

Link to the sequence: http://engelsk.gyldendal.dk/en/Indgange/Topics/Friend_or_Foe/Southern_Africa/Goal.aspx

The views on culture presented in the analysis will be marked by colours according to this order:

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Goals
After working with this topic, you should have a knowledge of the recent history of Southern Africa, especially of the countries of South Africa and Zimbabwe, and an understanding of how the interactions between native populations and European colonizers have shaped the modern societies that have now emerged in these countries.

Assessment Criteria:

  1. You should be able to understand both the gist of and specific information in texts on the subject of Southern African history and modern society in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

  2. You should be able to express your knowledge, ideas and opinions concerning aspects of Southern Africa’s history, development and current situation, and take part in discussions on the theme.
  3. You should be able to understand and make active use of a relevant vocabulary within the theme of Southern Africa’s history and development.
  4. You should have a knowledge of the way that historical events can influence the development of a country and the relationship between its citizens. You should also be able to relate this knowledge to your own life and experiences in Denmark.

 

2) Views of culture

Video from lesson 1:

 

  • European imperialism in Africa: Has a transnational and perhaps non-essentialist narrative perspective on the story of European imperialism in Africa, even though colonial history consisted of multiple, different European countries, conquering multiple different African countries.

 

 

Comprehension questions

There’s a national view since the questions are about a specific area.

E.g.:

1. How long did the colonial period in Southern Africa last?
2. Which countries in Southern Africa were British colonies?
3. Why did the British quarrel with the Dutch colony in Southern Africa?
5. What was the result of the Boer wars?

 

3) Identity and process of othering

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From lesson 2: Apartheid in process: An example of the “othering” that took place in the European narrative of black people.

Ellen Richardson: (description with representations without intersectionality – the subtextuality seems to be that she doesn’t agree with the acts)

Under Apartheid, people in South Africa were classified as belonging to a particular racial group: White, Black, Asian (or Indian) or Coloured. According to the Group Areas Act of 1950, the various racial groups had to be physically separated from each other. This meant that the country was divided into areas that were especially reserved for particular racial groups. Identity documents for Black and Coloured (othering and large-culture essentialism) people stopped them from moving into “White” areas. Sometimes members of the same family were classified in different racial groups and were forced to live apart.

It was difficult for non-White people to work in “White” areas. They had to have special permits and could not usually bring their families with them.

 

4) Representations (intersectionality/subtextuality)

 

Picture from ‘Apartheid – the background’

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This picture shows a representation of the South African people, both black and white fighting against the Apartheid.     

5) Intercultural narratives and discourses – language use in texts and media.

Heart of darkness (Book), Joseph Conrad (also identity and othering), ex. It tells a story from a time when native peoples of the African continent was considered savages.

Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look that) I would put my finger on it and say, `When I grow up I will go there’.

Common Objectives for English after 7th grade
The teaching sequence is working towards the following Common Objectives within the “culture and society” field marked in bold:

Kultur og samfund Eleven kan indgå i enkle kulturmøder ved brug af forskellige medier Interkulturel kontakt Engelsk som adgang til verden Tekst og medier
1. Eleven kan give eksempler på forskelle og ligheder mellem kultur- og samfundsforhold i eget land og i engelsksprogede områder Eleven har viden om enkle kultur- og samfundsforhold i engelsksprogede områder Eleven kan deltage i udveksling af enkel information og produkter med elever i udlandet Eleven har viden om metoder til udveksling af information Eleven kan genkende typer af fagtekster på engelsk Eleven har viden om sproglige træk ved fagtekster
2. Eleven kan fortælle om kulturelle forskelle og ligheder i enkle kulturmøder Eleven har viden om udvalgte kultur- og samfundsgrupper Eleven kan med forberedelse og støtte bruge engelsk til internationale henvendelser Eleven har viden om engelsk som lingua franca Eleven kan sammenligne typer af fiktive tekster på engelsk Eleven har viden om enkle genretræk ved fiktionstekster
3. Eleven kan indgå i enkle forberedte kulturmøder Eleven har viden om sproglige regler, normer og værdier hos udvalgte grupper Eleven kan tage initiativ til kommunikation med personer i udlandet Eleven har viden om forskellige medier som adgang til international kontakt Eleven kan anvende varierede teksttyper i forskellige medier på engelsk Eleven har viden om sammenhæng mellem genre, indhold og formål

 

Teaching Sequence: Writing process

Teaching sequence for a 7th grade (excerpt of 4 lessons from a 16-lesson teaching plan)

Overall Learning Objective

For the students to improve their L2 (English) linguistic competencies (speaking, listening, writing and reading) through immersion in self-chosen subjects, presented as a story through a digital media.

Assessment Criteria

• AC1: Can the students use digital storytelling to convey their chosen subject in English?

• AC2: Can the student demonstrate its ability to use the gathered knowledge in their story?

• AC3: Can the student use an appropriate structure depending on their genre?

Plan and timetable for teaching sequence: 

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The goal for the week was to enable the students to begin their writing processes in a longer sequence concerning digital storytelling. On the Monday, the students were given scaffolding to prepare them of how to use the new digital tool StoryBird, additionally they were introduces to the core characteristics of nonfiction vs. fiction genres. Wednesday they were working with brainstorming to come up with a topic of their own interest, and when decided, they began working in StoryBird and had approximately 1,5 hour to make a 3-page story. Friday the different stories were presented, either two the whole class or individually with one of us (an intern) by their side to comment and give summative feedback on the product as well as the work process.

Didactic considerations and reflections about teaching sequence

Initially we wanted to work with differentiated content due to the fact that we knew that this particular 7th grade was part of a special education option offered by Brøndbyøster skole called Lunten. Furthermore, despite the students all being diagnosed with one or more autistic disorders, they were still required to be examined under the same FFM as students under general education.

In the same regard, based on some the ideas of associate professor at Metropol, Jesper boding about visible learning and differentiation;”Ydermere er det relevant at overveje om indholdet […] kan gøres til genstand for differentiering i undervisningen. Dels er det oplagt at overveje, om elever med forskellige interesser kan vælge forskelligt indhold.” (Boding 2014: 8) Here Boding is proposing that teachers should consider if students could work with differentiated content, while still working towards the same learning objective, and if that differentiated content could be chosen by the student itself, based on his/hers own interests.

Allowing the students to choose their own desired writing-topic is also based on Dorn and Soffos’ views on the cognitive sides of writing, where they describe, how the first thing a young language learner needs, when starting the writing process, is the ability to understand and pull together ideas (feelings, emotions and images) or knowledge from their own memories, which they desire to communicate; “Language becomes a tool for consolidating bigger ideas into original statements while choosing the best words and placing them in the correct order.” (2001:2), 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.

In order to integrate these didactic theories into our teaching sequence, we planned a course with the digital media tool, StoryBird, which is a online program that allows the student to tell a story using pictures and writing. In addition we organised the sequence in such a way that the students would work with, and improve upon, their main L2 linguistic competencies, e.g. speaking, listening, reading, and especially writing.

During
During the course, we quickly learned that the learner´s knowledge regarding genres was not sufficient enough, for them to work individually on their project. This forced us to spend time, that we had not previously planned in the teaching sequence, to create a mutual understanding of the genres at their disposal. The way of approach was through brainstorming, which proved to be confusing for the learners, even though their teacher assured us that they had experience with brainstorms. Furthermore the level of knowledge in the class was very divided given their disorders, age groups and their experience with general education. This proved again to be quite a challenge for us to find common ground within the classroom. Ultimately the learners did not achieve the levels of learning that we intended.

According to Harris & Graham (1996) 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, though when helping individual students, some of them reacted positively to being instructed but found it hard to continue alone (individually or in groups), others shut down when receiving individual help, which created a lot of misunderstanding in regards to how far they actually were and whether they had understood the task at hand.

Post reflections
During our post reflections, it was certainly obvious that there was a need for more scaffolding, perhaps more explicit learning goals should have been given earlier on, which could potentially have resulted in more common ground within the classroom. If they had physical resources e.g., sheets of genre characteristics, it might have helped the students better, than repetitive black board teaching and individual help – as those two interactions seemed to either throw off the students or annoy them. When looking at the results of the students’ written products in StoryBird (Appendix 1), it is clear that the students are all still in the stage of the emergent writer as described by Dorn & Soffos (2001). The emergent writer’s greatest challenge occurs with transcribing the message. Here the 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). Yet we did not see the risk-taking behaviours in all of the students, as most of them had to be explicitly told almost what to write in order for them to write something. A’s story uses very simple sentences, but whilst M’s are more complex; there is no cohesion in the text whatsoever. T only made one page, besides the front page, but was the only one that seemed to use put his own ideas (feelings) into words.

Literature:

Boding, J. (2014): Synlig Læring er Synlig Succes. Dafolo.

Dorn, L. J. & Soffos, C. (2001): Scaffolding Young Writers: A Writer’s Workshop Approach. Stenhouse Publishers

Harris, K.R. & Graham, S. (1996) Making the Writing Process Work: Strategies for Composition and Self-Regulation, Cambridge, MA, Brookline Books

 

Appendix 1 – Examples of student texts from StoryBird

A’s story:

M’s story:

T’s story: