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The students participating in this activity are a small group of about 6-8 students. The students are in a grade 3/4 class and are operating at a Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) level 3 standard. They are independent readers and are able to stay on task with minimal teacher direction.
One student has been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. He works well in small group situations and is a capable reader. Instructional cards with pictures provide this student with a visual prompt. This will assist the difficulties which may arise with inferential questioning.
In regards to reading, the students are able to 'infer meaning from the material presented in the informative text. They should also use several strategies to locate, select and record key information from texts.' Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) (2009)
In regards to writing, the students are able to write texts containing logically ordered paragraphs that express opinions and include ideas and information about familiar topics. The students can express a point of view providing some information and supporting detail. They can write a variety of simple and compound sentences and use verb tenses correctly. They use sound and visual patterns when attempting unfamiliar words. (VCAA) (2009)
In regards to Speaking and Listening, the students are able to listen attentively to the spoken texts, and identify the topic, retell information accurately, ask clarifying questions, volunteer information and justify opinions.
As it is a small group, there will be no other adult support. That is teacher aide or parent helper.
The chosen text for this activity is a non-fiction text titled 'Penguins' by Luther Reimer. It was produced in 2002 by Macmillan Education Australia.
My chosen text, Penguins by Luther Reimer, is suitable for my grade 3/4 group because the book itself is bigger than a normal book. This means that the students will be able to see the text, pictures and diagrams more clearly, this will also aide students' with visual impairment. The book also has large detailed pictures with precise information which grade 3 and 4's would find interesting.
The Relational frame theory (RFT) is the language acquisition/development theory I will be using throughout this part. RFT is a psychological theory of human language and cognition, developed largely through the efforts of Steven C. Hayes and Dermot Barnes-Holmes and currently being tested in about three dozen laboratories around the world. Based on the philosophical roots of functional contextualism, it focuses on how humans learn language through interactions with the environment. Relational frame theory (2006)
RFT provides a wholly selectionist/learning account of the origin and development of language competence and complexity. Based upon the principles of Skinnerian behaviorism, RFT posits that children acquire language purely through interacting with the environment. RFT theorists introduced the concept of functional contextualism in language learning, which emphasizes the importance of predicting and influencing psychological events, such as thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, by focusing on manipulable variables in their context. RFT distinguishes itself from Skinner's work by identifying and defining a particular type of operant conditioning known as derived relational responding, a learning process that to date appears to occur only in humans possessing a capacity for language. Empirical studies supporting the predictions of RFT suggest that children learn language via a system of inherent reinforcements, challenging the view that language acquisition is based upon innate, language-specific cognitive capacities. Hayes, C. & Barnes-Holmes, D. & Roche, B. (2001)
Regarding literacy practices, the text, Penguins by Luther Reimer, will provide many opportunities to explore the different aspects of literacy. In relation to reading, this text gives students the opportunity to explore unfamiliar words, such as Antarctica and krill, and connect them to knowledge already consolidated within their brains. This knowledge may be learned through examples like documentaries or movies, like Happy Feet. In relation to writing, the text will give students the opportunity to voice their opinions, in written form, regarding the endangered species of penguin and the problems they face. Another activity the students could participate in is writing a report about another animal that lives in the Antarctic, such as a seal or polar bear. This will require the students to 'infer meaning.' If the children are uncertain about what animals live in the Antarctic, then they have the opportunity to do some research about them. Once they have read the text, students could write a fictional story about the life of a penguin or another Antarctic creature. Finally, regarding speaking and listening, the text will give students the opportunity to explore the aspects of this standard. The students will listen attentively to the spoken factual text so that they can identify the topic, penguins, and summarise the information in their own words. The students will need to ask clarifying questions if they are uncertain about any aspect of the topic. The students also need to justify their opinions relating to the topic, for example, why do you think the population of penguins is decreasing?
Literacy features of the text.
The primary purpose of an information report is to give the reader(s) information and inform them of the topic.
The type of language used in the text is technical language. For example: 'Penguin, bill, gentoo.' (Reimer, 2002) This language is used to inform readers.
The text is structured in short and brief sentences that contain high levels of information. For example: Penguins eat krill, fish and shrimp.
The grammatical features of the text include Proper nouns, such as 'Antarctica', and supportive photographs, maps and diagrams. 3rd person perspective is used throughout the text, that is 'The penguins eat krill, shrimp and fish. They dive underwater...' (Reimer, 2002) As it is an informative and factual text, no opinion is given.
Some of the wider issues that could be linked to this topic are the melting polar ice caps and endangered species of penguins. Lack of food supplies and predators are issues explored within the text.
Some of the themes that could be looked at that relate to this topic are birds, Antarctic animals or climate change.
My learners will be engaged in the text through a four step process called Collaborative Strategic Reading. The four parts to this process are called preview, click and clunk, get the gist and wrap up.
The 'preview' part will have the students predict what the text is going to be about. There is a series of questions to initiate discussion about the text, for example. Is the any visual literacy? And why was this text written?
The next part of the strategy is called click and clunk. The goal of click and clunk is to teach students to monitor their own reading comprehension and to identify when they have breakdowns in understanding. The students will say click or clunk aloud when they're reading through the text. A click indicates that the text makes sense to the reader, while a clunk indicates a comprehension breakdown or the student is unsure of a word meaning. The third part of the strategy is called 'get the gist.' Students learn to 'get the gist' by identifying the most important idea in a section of the text, usually a paragraph. The main goal of 'get the gist' is to teach the students to summarise the most important points of the text in their own words to make sure the students understand what is being read. The final part of this strategy is called wrap up. The students learn to 'wrap up' by thinking of questions and answers about what they have learned and by reviewing the key ideas. The main goals are to improve the students' knowledge, understanding and memory of what was just read. Using Collaborative Reading Strategies (2010)
1. The learners will have a greater general understanding of penguins, including different species of penguin, the food they eat and the habitat of penguins.
2. The learners will have a greater understanding on how to summarise the key points of a non-fiction text.
The first outcome relates to the reading aspect of the VELS. In order for the students to complete outcome 1, they will need to 'infer meaning' from knowledge learnt prior. This knowledge comes from things they may have seen on television, the movies or in other books.
The second outcome relates to the 'speaking and listening' aspect of the curriculum. The students need to listen to the spoken text so that they can summarise the key points of the text. They also need to retell the information accurately to summarise the topic.
Describe an activity/strategy
Throughout this stage I will be asking the student questions about the following activities and ensuring that they are completing the work correctly.
The activities I will be using are called 'Get the gist' and 'Wrap up.' In the 'get the gist' activity the students need to write down the most important ideas of the paragraph and summarise the key points. They will then reword the summary and say it in their own words. The last part is called 'wrap up.' For this part I will ask the students questions about the passage such as: who, what where, when, why and how? They will write their responses and share with the group. The student then review what they have learnt and ask questions about what else they what to know that the text hasn't told them.
The reason for completing these activities is so that the students achieve the learning outcomes.