I am a class teacher for Year Four and five students and a team leader for the middle school. My class and I are a part of the Manaiakalani Google ClassOnAir.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Writing: Little steps at a time

This Term I have been focusing on writing. The main purpose of writing was to make my young Year 3-4 writers write interesting stories for their audience by using detail for their ideas.  All teachers understand how vital it is to scaffold lessons to get students working at the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky). Vygotsky (1978) suggests that  only "good" learning is learning that is ahead of actual development.  Teachers need to be aware that this idea does not ignore the notion that teaching should not be beyond the capacity of a learner. A teacher needs to be aware of her students' readiness to learn new things. For this to happen, a teacher needs to know her students well. New learning is to be build on what a student is currently able to do independently. So it is a challenge for the teacher to have high expectations of all her students and scaffold tasks carefully and judiciously for her them to be able to complete tasks successfully. Using this Vygotskian idea I challenged my young learners this week to write a Narrative and show evidence of the detail for the events in the story.

We have been learning about Traditional Maori tales and one of the tales that I had chosen for the purpose was ‘Tamure and The Taniwha’.

As most of my students are ESl learners, I began the task of scaffolding very carefully.
I read them the tale thrice at various times during the previous week, just to make sure all students know and understand the sequence of the events in the story.

I designed a graphic organizer for students to plan their stories. I showed my students how to use the organiser using 'think aloud' strategy. Students needed to list their ideas in the first row of the planning organiser. In the second row they had to list key words for their detail of the idea and in the third row I had provided them with a sentence starter to support them write their story.

When students understood what an idea is and how they were required to add detail to support their idea, it became easy for them to accomplish their goal. 

 Below is the work produced by a few students from the class.

I believe that careful planning and scaffolding of the lesson can produce desired results. Having a well designed planning organiser to challenge my students next learning step was very fruitful.

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