Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

December 27, 2016
by leesensei
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Top Posts of the Year – #2 – Novices – Learning to Add Details!

What a year it has been! A year of change and growth for me as a teaching professional (it never ends!). For the next few posts I am looking back at what resonated with readers of “Language Sensei”.

I am always trying to get my students to add more detail in their presentational writing and their oral interactions. For my novices I employ a brainstorming strategy that takes it’s cue from follow-up questions. Although this post is about my Yr1 Intensive course – I use this strategy right up my Yr4 classes – adjusting the ‘detail’ as the level dictates! So now the post I called “Wheel Of Detail….” With 2 months to go in the semester, my  Yr1 Intensive students (2 semesters in 1) are now using their language for communicating more than just “I went to the mall”. I am a big believer in using the idea of ‘follow up questions‘ to drive details – but it’s sometimes hard to encourage the ‘brainstorming’ required for this. As my students  were prepping for an oral I pulled out what I call the “Wheel of Detail”. Essentially its a modified mind map and I use it for both presentational writing and oral interpersonal activities.  I like it as it connects details to a central activity.   Read more…

C

September 30, 2016
by leesensei
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Fine Tuning Writing = Fine Tuning Language

Source: Morguefile.comLast year one of my ‘could have been betters‘ was my work with students to improve their written output. Yes I have a rubric/feedback form I like. Yes I use descriptors and not numbers to evaluate their writing. Yes I sometimes show exemplars during a writing ‘workshop’ to assist. And Yes – you may not agree – I sometimes use a “spot the problem” handout to help review common written language ‘issues’.

But I wanted to help push and develop their awareness of what I am looking for and their written output. So this year I have tried/am trying to add onto the process.

A ‘Physical’ Portfolio: Okay – it’s a paper folder – we’re not that tech-able in my school. But we’ve started to put all of the writing they have handed in – from activities like ‘Sketch and Share‘ to more formal pieces into the paper folder portfolio. I realized that what I handed back often got buried in their binders…I want to find it easily and be able to use the information in it. And, quite honestly, the physical presence of the folders in my room reminds me that we have them too!

Going Through the Rubric & Clarifying: It’s not enough, I found, for me to talk about what I am looking for. I need to hear what they ‘think’ I am looking for and for them to realize that they ‘get’ what the goal is, or not. So we took 1/2 a class and went line by line through the rubric/feedback form. What did they think each line meant? After they had a minute to discuss I told them what it meant to me… This was a chance for them to see if their thoughts matched up with my expectations!

Using the Portfolio As a Resource: Now before we write a piece – we take out the portfolio and look at past work. What were the comments and suggestions? What were issues in the last piece?  Today my Year 3’s wrote 2 notes to themselves actually on the folder to ‘remember’ for next time.  Some wrote a ‘suggestion’ that I had given them. Others wrote down a common error they tend to make over and over again. I’m going to look on this evolving “note to self” as a resource for ongoing use. Today, in the period prior to the Yr4 Murder Mystery write – I had a student come request her folder as she wanted to look at past pieces and comments.

I believe that the focus on the writing will also produce a ‘side bonus’ – a focus on the overall language that they use. That the may, perhaps, be more aware of what to say but the options/resources they have to say things in a different, more detailed way.  There is a LONG way to go for me in this process…but it’s a start I’m pleased with!

Colleen

 

May 4, 2016
by leesensei
2 Comments

“Wheel of …..Detail!” A Strategy to Aid Novices in Adding Detail to Communication

With 2 months to go in the semester, my  Yr1 Intensive students (2 semesters in 1) are now using their language for communicating more than just “I went to the mall”. I am a big believer in using the idea of ‘follow up questions‘ to drive details – but it’s sometimes hard to encourage the ‘brainstorming’ required for this. As my students  were prepping for an oral I pulled out what I call the “Wheel of Detail”. Essentially its a modified mind map and I use it for both presentational writing and oral interpersonal activities.  I like it as it connects details to a central activity.   Have a look at the one below. Wheel of DetailIt is centred on two topic areas for the oral – ‘what I like to do’ and ‘what I did on the weekend’.  On the side (in red) you can see the prompts for the kinds of follow up questions we have been working on.  You see the brainstorming in English as this is for an ‘oral’. They put down all the details that they want and (if they are unsure of the word) they can add it (you see one example in red above the word park). I am a big believer for orals in allowing English prompts. If this was writing – I’d be doing this in the target language (as we did last week with a similar kind of write). I like it better than a ‘list’ as the Wheel is an effective way to quickly, and visually, connect ideas.

How do you encourage/support adding detail in communication?

Colleen

PS – the word ‘hint’ on the post-it? Well we’re coming up to a summative write and every once in a while I was ‘dropping hints’  – yes holding up the post-it and dropping it! 🙂

 

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