Friday, October 8, 2010

Refining Discourses through Collaboration

Dr.K.N. Anandan
1. How do we help learners refine their written work through sharing?
2. What is the process of constructing discourses through collaboration?
3. Should we ask the learners to copy down the teacher’s version of targeted discourse?
Traditional classrooms give a lot of importance to the writing skills of learners. The underlying assumption is that skills can be developed through practice which in due course will lead to the mastery of language. However, a major chunk of the writing task assigned to children comprises of
• Writing answers to comprehension questions,
• Writing related to doing de-contextualized exercises involving vocabulary and structural items
• Writing guided compositions (letter writing, developing story from the given outline, etc.)
• Writing copies
It is in a way ‘risk-free’ writing because in most cases there will be only one correct answer. Since the thrust is on practising skills most of what children are expected to write have a direct bearing upon the information given in the textbook. This is supposed to be necessary for avoiding or at least minimizing the possibilities of learners making errors. This being the general situation of writing tasks undertaken by the learners there is no point in sharing ideas with others. Therefore, there is not much scope for refining one’s written work through collaboration.
Since the constructivist classroom envisions a drastic shift from reproducing textual information to constructing free discourses sharing of ideas gains a pivotal role in helping the learners acquire the target language. Since the curriculum expects the learners to construct discourses at all levels of learning we have to have a clear idea about how discourses constructed individually can be refined through group work. In order to facilitate proper sharing in groups the facilitator must know what instruction ns are to be given to the learners. This in turn depends crucially upon three things:
1. the level of the learners
2. the structure of the discourse to be constructed
3. features of the discourse to be targeted
Let us work out a few samples:

1. Conversations: Classes 3 to 5

Any conversation consists of exchanges between the speaker and the hearer. What we mean by an exchange is the pairing of an initiation and a response to this initiation. The minimal structure of a conversation is an exchange. Depending on the mutual relationship of the speaker-hearers and their involvement in the theme of conversation there may be more number of exchanges. The oral narrative presented, the interaction that takes place at the narrative gaps and the complementary reading passage together create the context of the conversation. With these inputs the learners will be emotionally charged to guess or predict the conversation that takes place between the central characters in that particular context; there won’t be any ambiguity regarding the theme of the conversation. Whatever be the exchanges that the learners work out will be relevant to the context and will be probable ones; there is no question of any exchange getting thematically deviant. The predictability of the theme creates a common platform for sharing.
The facilitator gives a set of instructions something like the following:
1. In the first round each member should read out what she has written down as the beginning of the conversation
2. If you have not written down anything you can tell others how the speaker would begin the conversation. This can be even in mother tongue.
3. After all members of the team have read out the beginning of conversation the best idea can be selected as the beginning
4. The members of the team should together decide and how this idea can be presented in a better way; all of you should write it down on a new page in your notebook
5. In the second round all of you should take turn and say what the other speaker says as a response to what the speaker has said.
6. Develop more exchanges in this manner
7. Write the conversation which the group has produced on a chart for presentation
8. You can decide who are to role-play the conversation before the whole class

2.Instructions for refining a Narrative in Group – Stage 3

1. Take turn and read out the event
2. If anyone has not written the event fully, or hasn’t written anything, say what the first event is. This can be even in mother tongue
3. Select the best way of stating the event
4. All of you write the first event in a separate page of your notebook
5. One member can write the event on a chart
6. In the second turn say what the characters are saying
7. Select the best dialogue related to the event and write it
8. Continue in this way till you complete all the events
9. Someone in the group can read aloud the whole narrative for the whole grou
10. Make changes if necessary
11. present the narrative you have written before the whole class
• In class III sometimes the teacher may have to give the instructions in mother tongue whenever necessary
• Display the instructions on a chart so that the whole class can see them
• Make sure that all the learners have understood the instructions
• While monitoring group work ensure that groups are following these instructions

3. Narrative for classes 6 and 7

(Instructions 1 to 9 will be the same as given above.)
4. Discuss what images you can include in the narrative.
5. Come to an agreement on how to write it
6. Discuss what the characters see, hear, smell, feel, etc.
7. Come to an agreement on how to write about these
8. discuss how you can connect the mood (happiness, sorrows, anxiety, fear, etc.) of the character to the nature outside

4. Instructions for refining a letter in group – classes 5, 6 and 7

1. In the first round read out how you began the letter
2. Come to an agreement on how to begin the lehtter
3. What did you write in the first part of the letter? read it out to others
4. Select the best idea
5. What did you write next?
6. Once again select the best idea
7. What are the other ideas you want to write? tell others about them
8. Come to a common agreement on the ideas and write them
9. How did you finish the letter? read it out to others
10. Select the best finishing
11. One of you can read the whole letter for others
12. Does the letter appeal to you? If not make necessary changes
13. Check whether you have included the place and date of the letter

4. Instructions for Refining Diary in Groups (classes 5,6 and 7)

1. Read out how you began the diary
2. Did you begin with an event or the character’s self talk on his /her feelings?
3. Come to an agreement in the groups on which beginning will be better
4. what are the events you included in the diary? Discuss in groups whether all these events are necessary
5. Come to an agreement on the events to be included
6. Come to an agreement on the thoughts to be included
7. How would you end the diary? Discuss and come to an agreement

6. Instructions for Refining Poems in groups ( Classes 3, 4 and 5)

1. Take turn and present the best two lines / four lines you have written
2. Make others give suggestions for refining the lines. If there are no suggestions write these lines in the group product
3. If you have any difficulties in presenting these two lines tell your friends about the idea you want to write
4. Collectively decide how this idea can be written in the poem
5. Read out the whole poem and see if line is fitting into the rhythm and tune
6. Come to an agreement on the changes to be made

7. (For poems in classes 6 and 7)

Instructions 1 to 5 will be the same as given above
1. Come to an agreement on what images are to be included (what you see, what you hear, etc.) and how to include them in the poem
2. Come to an agreement on how include some scenic details and emotions in the poem
3. Ensure that the mood of the poet (happiness, anxiety, sorrows, etc. ) has been reflected in the poem
4. Someone can read the whole poem for the whole group
5. Make changes if necessary

8. Profile

1. Sit in groups and discuss what personal details are to be included.
2. Decide on how these details are to be given.
3. What are the contributions to be included and how they are to be incorporated?
4. Those who haven’t written, incorporate it.What are the touching events of his life?
5. What and how these touching events (anecdotes) are to be incorporated?
6. Write your reflections on the person?
7. How will you sequence these ideas?

9. Skit

1. Sit in groups and come to an agreement on which plot related to the theme is to be selected.
2. Discuss in groups and fix the events related to the plot.
3. Come to an agreement in the opening group on where, when and how the events take place and the location of the characters with movements, feeling, mood and costumes. Write them in your note books. One can write them on a chart.
4. Come to an agreement on the dialogue /response be and write it down in your note book .The movements, feeling and the mood of the characters concerned should be written in brackets.
5. Develop sufficient exchanges up to the end of the skit in this manner.
6. Name the skit in negotiation within the group.
7. One member read aloud the whole skit in the group.

1 comment:

  1. Sir,
    It's about profile. When we discussed, the instruction for those who haven't written was deleted. May I know your justification for including it again?