Friday, November 5, 2010

Role and Use of Teacher Versions

Dr.K.N. Anandan

I received the following mail a few days back:
Dear sir,
Hope you remember me, I am Amul Roy , Teacher, Govt.U.P.S. Chalai, Thiruvananthapuram. I am very glad to inform you that your visit to our school gave us an opportunity to introspect the teaching -learning process of English in our classrooms. Of course we had made humble efforts to learn from your advice and made our SRG meetings a platform to share such ideas. We shared and discussed ideas expressed in the blog ‘English corridor’.
Now I would like to hear from you on these topics
1. The role and effective use of Teacher Versions.
2. The micro processes involved in the development of the discourse ‘Description’.
Amul Roy. R.P -98475 65193

Thank you, Amul Roy. I am glad to hear that teachers of GUPS Chalai are making use of ‘English Corridor’. Let me first take up the topic namely, role and use of teacher versions.
In one of my recent visit to schools I noticed that the learners were copying down the teacher version from the blackboard. Her intention was to give a good model of written discourse to the learners. Of course, the teacher version of the targeted discourse serves as a source of language input for the learners both thematically and linguistically. But the potential of this input cannot be tapped fully if the learners are asked to copy down the teacher version. Let us see how it can be made use of in a meaningful way.
After receiving sufficient input in terms of the teacher’s interaction, the narrative presented by the teacher or/and the discussion that is carried out the learners are streamlined to take up the task of constructing the targeted discourse. Recall the micro process of doing this:
• Individual writing
• Random presentation by a few individuals
• Refining in groups
• Presentation by groups
• The presentation of teacher’s version
• Editing of one of the group products
• Editing of the remaining group products by the learners
. publishing big book

What pedagogic mileage do we get from the processes suggested here?
1. Teacher version serves as authentic listening input
Remember, the teacher is not just reading out what she has written but making a presentation considering all articulatory features (stress, tone, etc.). After the presentation the script is displayed before the whole class alongside the group products.
2. Teacher version for thematic enrichment
The next stage is editing which has its own micro processes. To begin with there is thematic editing. In fact, this is meant for thematic enrichment of the products. How do we do that? The teacher negotiates with the learners with the help of questions such as the following:
a. Are there any ideas in what I have written which you have not included in your writing?
(Obviously, the learners will be going through the teacher version and their versions to find out this).
b. Are there any ideas that you have written but missing in my writing?
(This will make the learners read the versions once again. They will feel elevated when they find that there are some ideas that the teacher has not written.)
c. Did group1 write any idea that other groups have not written? Did any group write any idea that others have not written?
(Further reading takes place. Facilitating reading does not mean helping the learners read the textbook material alone. It necessarily includes reading of other materials as well. In the process that has been suggested here, each instance of reading is done for a specific purpose. Reading here is an intrinsically motivated activity.
3. Teacher version for sensitizing the learners on discourse features
The teacher version can also be made use of for negotiating with the learners on certain aspects of refinement of the written discourse. Each discourse has a set of specific features. For example, we expect the narrative in class 7 to have the following features:
1. Events
2. Dialogue / self talk related to the events
3. Images
4. Sensory perceptions
5. Ambience
Based on these features discourse level of the narrative written by the learners can be taken up. The narrative at stage 2 needs only the first two features. We have to identify the features of each discourse meant for a certain stage. This is to be addressed while editing the written work.
4. Teacher version for sensitizing the learners on errors
The teacher version serves as an indirect evidence for the learners in their process of language acquisition. They get sensitized on syntactic and morphological features of the target language. Moreover, the learners get input for using punctuations correctly. When the learners edit their own products the techer version will give them feedback on discourse level features as well as syntactic and morphologic features.
5. Teacher version serves as a model for legible writing
The teacher version is to be written legibly on a chart maintaining proper spacing between lines, words and the letters. If paragraphs are there they should be properly indented.

6. Teacher version as part of Supplementary Reading material
The teacher version along with the group products will be combiled together to make the big book. This will be a supplementary reading material for the learners for their future use.
Remember, for each of these uses of teacher versions the teacher has to negotiate with the learners. Otherwise the learners may not get sensitized on these aspects.
From the discussion presented here it is obvious that the pedagogic advantage of the teacher version will be missing if the learners are asked to copy down from the teacher version.

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