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Factors to consider when planning and sequencing tasks in a unit of work and new video clips on Making Language and Learning Work

Hi everyone

It was exciting to see new clips from the Making Language and Learning Work  (Years 5-8) DVD 3 added to the pedagogy section on esolonline. They are designed for teacher professional development and I think teachers of younger students will also find them useful. “The DVDs demonstrate how teachers can effectively integrate content-area teaching and language learning in mainstream subject classrooms for students from diverse language background. They enable teachers to understand how to integrate effective literacy strategies into their teaching and learning programmes, and to observe how a range of teachers in different subject areas scaffold language and content area learning. The materials model how to personalise learning by supporting students at different levels of English proficiency in a manageable way in mainstream classes.”

The ten clips available are:

Clip 1: Year 5/6 social studies

Clip 6: Begin with context

Clip 2: Year 5/6 visual arts

Clip 7: Providing multiple opportunities

Clip 3: Year 7 technology focus

Clip 8: Balance between receptive and productive language

Clip 4: Year 7/8 science focus

Clip 9: Differentiated levels of support

Clip 5: Know the learner

Clip 10: Monitoring and self evaluation 

 Clips from DVDs 1 and 2 will be added shortly so watch this space.  

 I would love to hear how you have used these videos with staff at your school? 

Did teachers find them informative and did they change their teaching pedagogy as a result of viewing them? 

What has worked well for you? 

I am sure others in our community would love to learn from your experience.

 The video clips tie in nicely with the focus of my more recent updates where I have been looking at different aspects related to planning a unit of work in any curriculum area which includes a focus on supporting language acquisition as well as curriculum content.

 Factors to consider when planning and sequencing tasks in a unit of work

Today I am continuing by looking at some of the factors I consider necessary when thinking about writing and sequencing tasks in a unit of work based upon second language acquisition research. To learn more about these view the Making Language and learning Work video clips above and see principle and strategy pages in the pedagogy section on esolonline.  

Language teaching involves the notion of the ‘negotiation of meaning’. This involves the teacher:  (1) making language understandable to students; (2) helping students make their messages understood; and  (3) stretching, expanding, and refining students’ language repertoire.  (Met, M. Chapter 7, Teaching content through a second language. In Genesee, F. (1994) Educating second language children.)

In the curriculum cycle we generally move through the following stages:

1.       Building the field - the focus is on linking to a student’s prior knowledge and building content and information.

2.       Modelling the text type- the aim is for students to become familiar with the purpose, overall structure, and linguistic features of the type of text they will be using.

3.       Joint construction – completing a task or text together

4.       Independent work and the transfer of knowledge.

20 Top Tips for Designing and Sequencing a Unit of Work with a Language Focus

In no particular order

1.       Focus on meaning- the language that student’s listen to or read must be comprehensible.

2.       Provide an explicit focus on language in all lessons.

3.       Focus on use- this involves using language to transform what has been learned, through generating new knowledge, creating or taking an action.

4.       Activate student prior background knowledge.

5.       Plan for the integration of culture. Link to the students’ cultural backgrounds and knowledge and use cultural contexts and resources so students can see that their culture is valued.

6.       Move from the concrete to the abstract. Begin with immersion in experience when ever possible or with something concrete or visual.

7.       Provide many opportunities for pupil-pupil communication particularly in paired and small group task work.  This results in greater opportunities for students to produce and practice language.

8.       Use a task-based approach.

9.       Allow the use of students’ first languages especially when thinking about abstract concepts or before being expected to speak or write in English.

10.   Ensure a balance between listening, speaking, reading and writing tasks.

11.   Generally begin with listening and reading tasks (input) before moving onto speaking and writing tasks (output). Writing is often the mode that students find most difficult so it is generally sequenced towards the end of a lesson or unit or work.

12.   Incorporate the language to be learned into the design of the curriculum activities or modify tasks to include the focus language.  

13.   Explicitly teach academic/content vocabulary and provide lots of opportunities to reuse and practice the vocabulary.

14.   Provide opportunities for repetition of language and for fluency development.

15.   Ensure the content is cognitively challenging and hold high expectations for success.

16.   Provide explicit modelling of what is expected.

17.   Differentiate and scaffold the students to success.

18.   Incorporate metacognitive strategies and learning prompts.

19.   Plan to assess language and look for suitable opportunities to do this throughout the unit of work.

20.   Other?  – Tell me what you think should be included in this list.

Please let me know what else you think is important and should be added to the list. Note that I will look at different framework models and task design in later updates.

Have a great week and don’t forget to register for the CLESOL conference if you haven’t already done so.  You may also like to follow the informative discussion on literacy online the World Literacy Summit and on the Daily 5 and café reading programme. It has been great watching so many teachers engage in the conversations.