Posted by: iraidetalavera | May 27, 2009

Lesson 1

In this lesson, the students will approach the topic they are going to write about through lexical and speaking exercises. First of all, they will be given a list of words and they will have to work out their meaning. Afterwards, they will be using these words to answer the different questions on childcare that the teacher asks them.

Activity 1:

Before explaining that this series of lessons will consist on the development of argumentative texts about childcare, the teacher will make sure that the vocabulary that is going to appear during the next sessions is understood by everybody. To achieve this, an activity that involves the students actively in the improvement of their vocabulary would be very adequate. For instance, the teacher could distribute a list of words among the students and put them in groups of 3-4 people. After 10-15 minutes, he/she would ask a representative of each group to tell how many words they have guessed. Then, he/she could ask tricky questions to the pupils in order to see if they understand the slight differences between one word and another. Thus, a strong semantic web that would serve them to develop their ideas will have been built.

Examples of words the teacher could ask the students:

Childcare

to be under age

Kindergarten

Nursery

Nurse

Baby sitter

Childminder

Summer camp

(Swimming) instructor

Look after

Childcare centre

Primary school

Questions the teacher could attach to the list of words:

–          What is the difference between “childcare” and “baby sitting”?

–          Where does a “baby sitter” work? And a “nurse”?

–          Is it the same to say “kindergarten” and “nursery”?

–          At what age do children start going to the “nursery”?

–          At what age did you finish the pre-school education?

–          Does an instructor take care of very little children?

Activity 2:

The students will be gathering ideas about childcare. This topic is adequate for them since they are very familiar with it. They all have been taken care of by their parents; many of them have gone to summer camps and more than one has gone to the kindergarten. Therefore, it is probable that they have many things to say about this issue. However, it is for the teacher and the students to decide by general consent what they are going to talk about.

For this activity, it would be ideal that students took their chairs and sat forming a semi-circle, so that they can see each other’s faces when they are talking. In addition, they will hear much better what other people are saying and will not easily disconnect.

In order to make the students talk, the instructor is supposed to ask them a lot of questions so that everyone participates in the discussion. The answers they give should not be too long: it is not so important that they build elaborate structures in this stage of the project, but that many ideas come out. Thus, the main function of the teacher will be that of an interviewer. He will ask the questions and will control the turns.

List of questions the teacher could ask the students, all of them connected with childcare:

THE KINDERGARTEN:

–          At what age did you start going to the kindergarten?

–          Did you have a good time in the kindergarten?

–          What did you learn in the kindergarten?

BABY SITTERS:

–          How many of you have had a baby sitter?

–          How many hours did he/she spend with you?

OUT-OF-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES:

–          In what out-of-school activities are you involved?

–          Were you involved in out-of-school activities when you were children?

–          Did you do any activity at school –sports, English, etc.- after eating in the refectory?

SUMMER CAMPS:

–          When did you go to a summer camp for the first time?

–          How many days did you spend away from home?

–          Did you go to a summer camp in other country?

PARENTS:

–          Did your parents take you away on vacation?

–          Who took care of you when your parents were away?

–          Have you taken care of your brothers or sisters when your parents are not at home?

In this lesson, the students will approach the topic they are going to write about through lexical and speaking exercises. First of all, they will be given a list of words and they will have to work out their meaning. Afterwards, they will be using these words to answer the different questions on childcare that the teacher asks them.

Activity 1:

Before explaining that this series of lessons will consist on the development of argumentative texts about childcare, the teacher will make sure that the vocabulary that is going to appear during the next sessions is understood by everybody. To achieve this, an activity that involves the students actively in the improvement of their vocabulary would be very adequate. For instance, the teacher could distribute a list of words among the students and put them in groups of 3-4 people. After 10-15 minutes, he/she would ask a representative of each group to tell how many words they have guessed. Then, he/she could ask tricky questions to the pupils in order to see if they understand the slight differences between one word and another. Thus, a strong semantic web that would serve them to develop their ideas will have been built.

Examples of words the teacher could ask to the students:

Childcare

to be under age

Kindergarten

Nursery

Nurse

Baby sitter

Childminder

Summer camp

(Swimming) instructor

Look after

Childcare centre

Primary school

Questions the teacher could attach to the list of words:

–          What is the difference between “childcare” and “baby sitting”?

–          Where does a “baby sitter” work? And a “nurse”?

–          Is it the same to say “kindergarten” and “nursery”?

–          At what age do children start going to the “nursery”?

–          At what age did you finish the pre-school education?

–          Does an instructor take care of very little children?

Activity 2:

The students will be gathering ideas about childcare. This topic is adequate for them since they are very familiar with it. They all have been taken care of by their parents; many of them have gone to summer camps and more than one has gone to the kindergarten. Therefore, it is probable that they have many things to say about this issue. However, it is for the teacher and the students to decide by general consent what they are going to talk about.

For this activity, it would be ideal that students took their chairs and sat forming a semi-circle, so that they can see each other’s faces when they are talking. In addition, they will hear much better what other people are saying and will not easily disconnect.

In order to make the students talk, the instructor is supposed to ask them a lot of questions so that everyone participates in the discussion. The answers they give should not be too long: it is not so important that they build elaborate structures in this stage of the project, but that many ideas come out. Thus, the main function of the teacher will be that of an interviewer. He will ask the questions and will control the turns.

List of questions the teacher could ask the students, all of them connected with childcare:

THE KINDERGARTEN:

–          At what age did you start going to the kindergarten?

–          Did you have a good time in the kindergarten?

–          What did you learn in the kindergarten?

BABY SITTERS:

–          How many of you have had a baby sitter?

–          How many hours did he/she spend with you?

OUT-OF-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES:

–          In what out-of-school activities are you involved?

–          Were you involved in out-of-school activities when you were children?

–          Did you do any activity at school –sports, English, etc.- after eating in the refectory?

SUMMER CAMPS:

–          When did you go to a summer camp for the first time?

–          How many days did you spend away from home?

–          Did you go to a summer camp in other country?

PARENTS:

–          Did your parents take you away on vacation?

–          Who took care of you when your parents were away?

–          Have you taken care of your brothers or sisters when your parents are not at home?

Posted by: iraidetalavera | May 27, 2009

Lesson 2

The second lesson will be devoted to the reading and analysis of an argumentative essay about childcare centres in which the writer defends financial assistances for parents who use this service. This text has been chosen because its difficulty adapts to an intermediate-upper level of English. However, each instructor can adapt the text according to his/her necessities.

After reading the text, the students will participate in the editing of this same text. They will select the main ideas, identify the elements that link one sentence with another and choose the connector that build a coherent and solid text. The final goal is that they learn how the main ideas in a text must be organized and interlaced.

Model text without the corrections:

CHILDCARE CENTERS

Nowadays the two members of a couple work and they need to leave their children with someone. Childcare centres are sometimes expensive. The government should provide more financial assistance to parents who use childcare.

A whole range of learning occurs in childcare centres. Childcare centres may assist children in their early development. Childcare centres give children an opportunity to mix with other children and develop social skills at an early age. Children who have been in childcare centres have fewer problems to integrate with other children in pre-school education.

Parents may be fearful of other people taking care of their children. Recent studies indicate that the parent-child relationship can be enhanced by the use of high-quality childcare facilities. Parents and children need to spend some time away from each other. Children become grow more independent from their parents. Parents are less stressed and more effective care-givers when there are periods of separation.

Parents who stay at home because they cannot acceed childcare facilities cannot contribute to the national economy. Parents are not able to utilise their productive skills and do not pay income tax. Government support for childcare services assists individual families and is important for the economic well-being of the whole nation.

In conclusion…

Activities 1 and 2 (vocabulary and reading):

Now that the students are familiar with the topic and that a lot of ideas have come to the fore while discussing the various aspects of childcare, the teacher will distribute an argumentative text about childcare centres among the students. In this case, the writer defends financial assistance from the government to those parents who cannot take care of their children. A good exercise to make sure that they understand the vocabulary is putting a list of 6-8 words or expressions on the blackboard; the pupils must select those that have a synonym in the text, and discard the others.

Model exercise:

Looking for synonyms inside the text:

1.- Monetary: financial (line 3)

2.- Support: assistance (line 3)

3.- Anxious: fearful (line 9)

4.- Improved: enhanced (line 10)

5.- Variety: range (line 4)

6.- Abilities: skills (line 6)

7.- Mix: integrate (line 7)

8.- Services: facilities (line 14)

Activity 3:

After reading the text, the teacher will divide the students in groups of 3-4 people and will ask them to identify the main idea of each paragraph. Then, he will assign one body paragraph –all the paragraphs except for the introduction- to each group and will make them answer the following questions:

–          Which sentence corresponds to the main idea? Where does it appear?

–          Can you substitute the words that are repeated with a synonym or with a pronoun?

–          Would you use any connector to link one sentence with another?

Example of the correction of one paragraph from the text:

Parents may be fearful of other people taking care of their children. However (CONNECTOR OF CONTRAST),  Recent studies indicate that the parent-child relationship can be enhanced by the use of high-quality childcare facilities. (MAIN IDEA) Besides, (USE OF A CONNECTOR THAT EXPRESSES ADDITION) Parents and children need to spend some time away from each other: children become grow more independent from their parents, and these Parents  (SUBSTITUTION OF THE WORD BY A DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUN) are less stressed and more effective care-givers when there are periods of separation they have been away from each other (SUBSTITUTION OF A REPEATED EXPRESSION BY OTHER THAT MEANS THE SAME THING).

When this task is complete, the answers will be put in common with the teacher; this activity would be done better if the instructor had a portable and a projector, so that the text could be edited as they go along. Next, they would try to link the different paragraphs using connectors of listing, contrast or addition –and some other connectors if needed. As most of the times there is not one only solution as to what connector to use, the teacher could make a chart in which the students have to insert the types of connectors they know –as in the example below. Finally, they will work again in groups in writing a short conclusion that restates the introductory thesis.

Model chart:

CONNECTORS OF LISTING CONNECTORS OF CONTRAST CONNECTORS OF ADDITION
First/ first of all/ secondly/ thirdly/ next/ then/ after that/ finally However/ on the other hand/ anyhow/ anyway/ nevertheless/ nonetheless In addition/ besides/ moreover/ furthermore/ also

Example of conclusion:

In conclusion, financial assistance for childcare is a need that the government cannot overlook in a society in which both men and women work. If this necessity is covered, the life-quality of both parents and children will improve.

Posted by: iraidetalavera | May 27, 2009

Lesson 3

This session will be centered in developing the oral skills of the pupils. After having read the “Childcare Centres” article, they will state their own opinion about this subject. One possibility is to let them choose whether they are in favour or against financial assistance for parents who use childcare, but there is a risk that the division is a bit unbalanced -it is possible that many of them take the same stand. To avoid this, the teacher could determine that half of the class will be for financial assistance and the other half against it. If the topic is controversial it is better to avoid this procedure, but in the case of childcare it should not be very problematic to interpret a role.

During this session, the teacher will basically be an observer. During this surveillance, he/she will study the speaking level of the pupils, and check their most frequent errors. When the session finishes, he could write down these mistakes on the blackboard and make the students try to find the right answer.

Activity 1:

When the students have been assigned a role, they will put in groups of 3-4 people and will write a list of arguments –a maximum of 4- in favour or against financial assistance for childcare. They can base on the discussion of the first lesson        –for instance, they can make reference to an awful or fantastic personal experience in the kindergarten-, support the arguments defended in the “Childcare Centre” text or mention them to express a contrary opinion. In fact, the purpose of this argument listing is that all the students can contribute to the discussion.

Activity 2:

Before the debate starts, it would be quite interesting that the teacher has prepared a set of useful expressions for the students. He could write some of them on the blackboard -3 to supporting an argument and 3 opposing it- and distribute a copy with the rest so that the students can resort to it if they need it. In any case, the pupils are free to use their own expression. These are just some examples:

Expressions supporting an argument:

–          I personally think that…

–          We have to bear in mind that…

–          It is undeniable that…

Expressions refuting an argument:

–          I partially agree with you, but…

–          That’s a good point, but…

–          However…

Apart from the participants in the debate, there should be two students that acquire a different role. One of them will be the moderator or coordinator. He will give the participation turns to each of the “confronted factions”, and will conduct the debate so that it does not derive to other topics –irrelevant at that moment.

Other important figure is the secretary, who will be in charge of compiling all the arguments stated by the other students. This listing will be an aid for the following lesson, when the students will have to create their own argumentative texts.

Activity 3:

The teacher will write on the blackboard some of the mistakes the students have made while talking. It will be up to them to say what type of error it is –grammatical, lexical, orthographical, etc.- and to make the necessary corrections.

Posted by: iraidetalavera | May 27, 2009

Lesson 4

This lesson will be devoted to the individual writing of an argumentative text that will involve the application of the arguments used in the debate. After writing the text, the students will work as editors by correcting the work of their classmates basing on parameters that the teacher has previously given to them.

Activity 1:

The secretary will inform the class about the main arguments that appeared in the discussion. Next, they will be written on the blackboard or in the portable computer if there is a projector. The ideal thing is that each idea is summarized in a short sentence, so that each student develops it and does not merely copy it in the essay. Anyhow, the instructor should remark that if anyone has thought of a new argument that they want to include on their paper they are free to do it.

Activity 2:

Each student will select 3-4 arguments in favor or against in order to construct a text of 5-6 paragraphs –introduction + body + conclusion. They will have time until the end of the class, so that they can think of how the most adequate way of stating their opinions in the text. As a help, the teacher could hand in to each student the parameters that will be used for the correction of their essays during the following session. These do not only concern spelling or grammatical problems, as it is the trend in the English language courses, but also vocabulary, cohesion and coherence, which are more important for the purpose of this “writing workshop”. The “content” can also be evaluated in terms of originality and capacity of persuasion. An argumentative text must sound convincing, and trying to find good arguments to defend your thesis is a difficult and creative task.

Example of a chart with the parameters for the correction of texts:

COHERENCE Do you identify the main thesis clearly? Can you locate the introduction and the conclusion? And the arguments?
CAPACITY OF CONVICTION Are the arguments convincing and true? Is any of them repeated?
COHESION Are the connectors used correctly between sentences? And between paragraphs?
LANGUAGE Is the language adequate for an argumentative text?

Are the words too colloquial?

Could the words be more specific?

Has your companion tried to use synonyms for words that appear all through the text?

SYNTAX Is the structure of the sentences correct?

Have you found problems of agreement?

SPELLING Have you detected spelling mistakes?

Posted by: iraidetalavera | May 27, 2009

Lesson 5

The principal activity will be the editing of the essays. The learners will work in pairs and will exchange their work. After having corrected it, they will explain to their companions what things are positive and what others could be improved. This activity will serve to make them aware of the necessity of rewriting a text: there will always be things that need improvement. Besides, having the opinion of their companions will imply receiving the feedback from a real reader, and trying to adapt the text to this reading public the next time.

Activity 1:

The pupils will put in pairs and exchange their texts with their colleagues. They will read the text attentively and then correct it according to the parameters mentioned in the chart above. It is better that they mention both the positive and the negative things, so that each potential writer knows what he/she should keep on doing and what aspects should be improved.

Activity 2:

After having completed the chart, the students will give the text with the corrections back to their companions and tell them what their opinion about their essay is. As readers, they can make suggestions: they can comment on what other new arguments could be added, on the order of the ideas, on incorporating a greater variety of connectors, etc.

Activity 3 (the teacher will gather all the texts):

During the lesson, the teacher will go from group to group just in case the students have any doubt as to how to express their comments, or as to how to improve something from the text. At the end of the lesson, he will collect all the essays and also the observations that the students have made on their companions’ texts.

Posted by: iraidetalavera | May 27, 2009

Lesson 6

During this session, the most frequent mistakes in the essays will be corrected on the blackboard in front of the class. A good piece of advice is that the teacher asks the students where the error is and what type of error it is, instead of revealing this information to them. After this, the teacher will distribute the corrected essays among the class. In them, the mistakes will only be stressed and, as in the previous exercise, the students will have to identify them. The instructor can also make observations concerning connectors, language –if a more specific word is needed here, if the student could find a better synonym there- and capacity of developing ideas.

Activity 1:

The teacher will comment on the most frequent errors in from of the class and they will have to correct them. They will also have to argue why that is a mistake and what type of mistake it is. In this activity, the whole class could participate together, but if the teacher considers it necessary –and depending on the amount of people in each class- he/she could suggest that the students work on the errors in groups and then put their conclusions in common with the rest of the class.

The mistakes that the pupils will correct best will be syntactical –lack of agreement between subject and verb, bad ordering of the elements in the sentece-, lexical –choice of the incorrect word, excessive repetition of a term- and related to spelling. The errors that concern coherence of the ideas exposed and cohesion will be better corrected individually in the next exercise.

Activity 2:

The teacher will give the individual corrections back to the students and will specify where the errors are, but not how they could be corrected. In a first stage, the learner should identify and correct those mistakes related to syntax, spelling and lexicon. He/she could indicate what type of error it is by the use of the following abbreviations:

Sy = syntax

Sp = spelling

V = vocabulary

Next, the student would pay attention to the observations the teacher made about the coherence and cohesion of the text, and about the way the arguments were developed. It is very probable that some students have an excellent capacity to write highly structured texts. In these cases, the teacher should encourage them to either writing an argumentative text expressing now the contrary opinion or, if they are bored of writing on childcare, writing about a topic that interests them. If they cannot think of anything, the teacher can propose some topics they could write about. The following examples could be useful:

–          “University students should live away from their parents in order to become mature”.

–          “Young people should be given permission to ride a car when they are 16”.

Posted by: iraidetalavera | May 27, 2009

Lesson 7

This final lesson will focus on the re-writing of the argumentative text –some of the students will write on childcare, some others on another topic that the teacher has suggested to them. This exercise could also be done as homework, in case the teacher wants to go on from process writing to another activity. In any case, the essays should be handed in to the teacher during this lesson along with the first versions, so that the teacher can compare them and check if the students have made any improvement. In a next session, the teacher would give back the two versions to the pupils with the comments on those things they have made better and those they should be working on.

It would be very recommendable that the teacher and the students dedicated more lessons to process writing. Instead of writing argumentative texts, they could train their creativity through the writing of narrative or descriptive essays. If the students react well to the lesson planning here proposed, it is probable that enjoy creating their own stories even more. Besides, they would keep on applying their knowledge of grammar, lexicon and structure to the texts they are working with. Of course, these are only some ideas on how the teachers could continue with their didactic planning: the final decision always belongs to them.

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