Skkn improving the tenth graders’ written work through the teaching of text type

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SỞ GIÁO DỤC VÀ ĐÀO TẠO ĐỒNG NAI Trường THPT TRẤN BIÊN Mã số: ................................ SÁNG KIẾN KINH NGHIỆM Improving the tenth graders’ written work through the teaching of text type Người thực hiện: NGUYỄN TRẦN TỐ NỮ YẾN ANH Lĩnh vực nghiên cứu: - Quản lý giáo dục - Phương pháp dạy học bộ môn: TIẾNG ANH - Lĩnh vực khác:    Có đính kèm:  Mô hình  Phần mềm  Phim ảnh Năm học: 2012-2013 0  Hiện vật khác September, 2012 INTRODUCTION Writing is one of the two important productive skills that high school students need to improve or to develop so that they can become competent English users in the learning process. However, helping students to write effectively is still a difficult job for Vietnamese teachers, especially teachers at high schools. The purpose of this research is to investigate how the genre-based approach, using text type in teaching writing would help improve grade-ten students’ work on information report. The research is conducted with two groups of the tenth graders in Tran Bien High School. The experimental group is taught writing with the implement of text type. In the control group, on the other hand, no changes would be made. CONTEXT Tran Bien High School, which is about 30 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City. is located in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai Province. The school has a teaching staff consisting of 99 teachers who are in charge of thirteen subjects. Each year the school has totally 40 classes including more than 1200 students (from grade ten to grade twelve). In each class, some students are rather good at English. While. Others are of lower-intermediate or intermediate proficiency at English. The school has an English section consisting of ten teachers who all graduated from Ho Chi Minh University of Pedagogy(Education) . Two of them have got a Master Degree in English Teaching, while five have been teaching English for more than twenty years. I have been teaching English for 9 years. Although some of us are textbook-bound and have a very traditional way of teaching, which pays much attention to grammar, vocabulary and the reading of text selections through the curriculum, most of us are enthusiastic and experienced in teaching. RATIONALE Writing is a social activity and the texts we produced are shaped by the social contexts in which they occur. Pedagogically speaking, writing is among the four macro-skills that learners need to master when studying a second or foreign language. Text level is targeted in teaching writing. At this level, it is important for the learners to consider the purpose of their writing, the intended audience, and the text structure. These components decide on the language choice, and the organization of ideas. It is the text structure, among the three, that constrains the learners, enforcing construction patterns that help them express their purpose. In recent years there have been efforts among teachers to improve Vietnamese high school students’ writing skills. These efforts have been especially true in the case of concentrating on the real communicative purpose of writing. However, when working the students I have known that they have met a lot of problems with their writing lessons. Some of my grade-ten-students cannot find the right ideas for their writing. Other students, though, have a number of interesting ideas, fail to make their writing understood. Even my good students have problems arranging the contents in a communicative purpose. When conducting some interviews and examining the students’ written work on information report, I have realized that my students do not show a positive attitude to their writing lessons and writing tasks. I am also aware of the reasons leading to their poor writing. 1 Firstly, writing is academically a productive skill which needs students to produce meaningful texts to serve specific purposes and to address to a certain group of people. Secondly, rubrics for scaffolding their writing are ignored. Nearly all of the English teachers in my school apply the product-oriented approach which encourages the students to either copying or transforming separated sentences in correct language. Finally, much schema is required before students can actually come up with their own ideas for a writing text. Schematic knowledge enlists a knowledge of genres or text types, general world knowledge, socio-cultural knowledge, and topic knowledge. Among the other things, the main cause of my student’s low performance in English writing (such as: information report) is the lack of genre-specific writing across the curriculum. The introduction of text type, therefore, becomes a real practical need for both the teaching and learning of writing in my school. This research studies the impacts of teaching text types on the tenth graders’ written work on information report and argues that the pedagogical using of text type can bring dramatic betterment in our writing lessons as well as improve students’ written work. When implementing the genrebased pedagogy using text-type in teaching writing information report I anticipate profitable changes, aiming at bringing a new critical perspective in our daily teaching practice. Research Questions 1. What is the current quality of students’ writing on information report? 2. What are some problems with the teaching and learning information report as a text type in Tran Bien High School? 3. To what extent does the pedagogical using of text types help improve students’ written work on information report? LITERATURE REVIEW Text types, known as genres refer to the way in which the contents or ideas of a certain written work are organized. Each text type or genre serves a particular purpose and is addressed to a certain number of the intended audience. Different texts vary in generic structure and linguistic features. “Knowing how to identify and construct text types is the basic of literacy” (Anderson & Anderson, 1998, p.4). It is believed that classifying and deconstructing text types bring students great benefits as they acknowledge how certain texts are composed for specific purposes. This leads to their awareness of creating linguistically accurate and socially appropriate texts. Hyland (2003) claims that when taking a genre orientation to writing construction, teachers are concerned with teaching learners the way to use language patterns to accomplish coherent purposeful prose. Learners are encouraged to see writing as endeavors to communicate with readers. Novice writers should be aware that when writing they are trying to do something with the language they use: it is a way to get something done. To my stance, whether learners are to tell a story, to describe a technical process, to argue for something and so on, they have to follow certain social conventions for organizing messages so that their intended audience can recognize their purpose. Hence, recognition of text types is crucial for students to engineer their ideas. In my own experience of teaching, the teaching of text type is the process of familiarizing students with a great variety of generic conventions and linguistic properties. It provides students 2 with knowledge of the social context within which texts are situated as well as their social functions. As the teaching of text types should be based on good scaffolding and explicit teaching, students benefit from the large exposure to a variety of text types, and, therefore have a sense of flexibility when asked to construct their own writing. In genre-based approach the introduction of text type comprises of the two phases namely building the field and modeling the text (Derewianka, 1990). Before learners are ready to produce their own written work, it has always been better for them to be fully exposed to text construction and language mechanics used to express certain purposes (Paltridge, 1996). Harmer (2004) believes that building the writing habit (with activities) is of extreme importance but without experiencing examples of various text types to see how they are constructed, students are unlikely to become effective writers. To my own viewpoint, this approach provides a fundamental framework for the students to see how certain texts are differently constructed according to their social functions and writer’s intention. It helps build students’ background and gives them a sense of preparation for what they will be writing. Nunan (1991) hypothesizes that textual analysis helps student writers recognize characteristics that distinguish one type of text with the others; therefore it provides students with valuable insights into how various types of text are socially and functionally constructed. Similarly, Hedge (2000) points out four advantages of having students interpret the generic structure of different text types. These include “helping students to identify their writing needs, building awareness of discourse organization, helping students to develop crafting skill and enabling students to appreciate the criteria for an effective text.” (p.323) There are, however, some feasible disadvantages of this approach. Some critics may argue that this writing approach is “extremely prescriptive” rather than “descriptive” (Harmer, 2007) and that the approach underestimates “the skill needed to produce a text and see learner as largely passive” (Badger & White, 2000). I deeply understand that the teaching of text type pays much attention to the textual analysis and limits learners to replicating what others have written. Consequently, there may be little room for creativity from learners. However, these limitations are outweighed by the benefits the approach brings about. In actual fact, they can be overcome by better classroom practice from the teachers. It is recommended that they introduce students a number of text types whose examples are all differentiated, so that they can both recognize the similarities between them and become fully aware of how they are differently structured (Harmer, 2004). Another way to get the best of the approach, according to Beverly Derewianka, is to teach writing through a curriculum cycle which encompasses of the four stages known as building the field, modeling the text, joint construction and independent construction of text (Derewianka, 1990) After studying more about the genre-based approach, I decide that the teaching of text type is suitable for my teaching context where there is little introduction of linguistic features and text structure. By implementing this approach, I hope to assist my students get a better view of how to construct information report which is included in the English syllabus for tenth graders. In this research I will stage how I would apply this text type-based approach to my teaching environment in the most beneficial way for my students who are typically stereotyped as “low” at writing skills. Expected Outcomes When carrying out the research I hope to receive both the teachers and students’ positive attitude to the new teaching method. Also, I anticipate some improvements in the experimental students’ written work in the two post-tests. If successful, I can actually generalize the implement of teaching text type on a larger number of students. 3 Conclusion and Recommendation In last analysis, I am aware that written communication in the classroom requires the three main components of effective teaching methods, constraint-minimizing measures and involving students in meaningful communication activities, like using text types. The above analysis indicates that only in teaching situations that follow this way of such a combined technique, can we promote and achieve the written communicative goal in the classroom. In the Vietnamese teaching situations, written communication in English teaching is impossible without using text types. APPENDICES APPENDIX 1: INFORMATION REPORT An information report is a factual text, which means it classifies and describes information about phenomenon (its parts, behavior, characteristics, etc) in the real world. An information report is used as a way to gain a better understanding about a living or non-living subject. (Anderson, M & Anderson, K 1998) Examples of information reports Topics, or subjects, found in information reports can be about one specific thing or a group of things. Some examples of topics might include: cars, ocean animals, rainforest, pollution, etc. Language features (*) Information reports:  use technical language related to the subject.  employ generalized terms  use timeless present tense  tend to be in the third person  tend to use simple or compound sentences to keep things clear  use connectives to indicate time, cause, effect or comparison  do not contain personal views  are usually written, but can also be presented orally (spoken). Design features (*)        Title Subheadings Text- bold, color, italics Photographs / illustration Captions Textbox Maps, Diagrams, Tables 4 Timelines (*) Taken from Pillay, H. (2010). Lecture notes. RELC, Singapore. The steps for constructing an information report: (Anderson & Anderson, K. 1998)  A general opening statement that introduces the subject of the report. (the first paragraph) - Tells audience what the text is going to be about - Can include a short description of the subject - Can include a definition of the subject  A series of paragraphs about the subject - Each paragraph usually begins with a topic sentence - The topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph previews the information contained in the rest of the paragraph - The sentences after this preview give more details - Each paragraph should give information about one feature of the subject - These paragraphs build a description of the subject of the report - These paragraphs may include technical language that is related to the subject  A concluding paragraph (optional) - Can merely signal the end of the text - Can also summarize the report  APPENDIX 2  SAMPLE OF PRE-TEST Write a short essay (150 words) about giant pandas, based on the in formation given. GIANT PANDAS - Habitat: Bamboo forests in mountains in central and western China. Population: Only about 600 Height: 1.2 to 1.5 m Weight: 75 to 160 kg Food: Bamboo Life span: About 20 to 30 years Reason for decline: Habitat destruction and illegal trading SAMPLE OF POST-TEST   Write a short essay (150 words) about endangered species of animals, based on the information given. DOLPHINS - Range & Habitat: Oceans worldwide – Prefer coastal waters and bays Size: + Smallest about 50 kg and 1.2 m / + Largest: up to 8,200 kg and 10 m Feeding habits: Carnivores. Eats mostly fish Offspring: Give birth to one calf every 2 years + Gestation period: 11-12 months - Life span: From 25 to 65 years. Sometimes longer, depending on the species - Special features: Mammals, not fish. Among the most intelligent animals - Conservation concerns: At risk due to habitat pollution and accidental fishing net entrapment. 5 HOLISTIC MARKING SCHEME FOR WRITING PRE-TEST AND POST-TEST Marks Criteria 10 - Ideas – very substantial, very relevant and very logical. All ideas are well developed and supported. - Organization of ideas is very coherent and well-organized. Very adequate paragraphing with very appropriate topic and supportive sentences. Very smooth flow of ideas with excellent use of cohesive devices. - Language – Excellent command of English. Very frequent use of excellent complex sentences without any errors. An impressive range of appropriate vocabulary and idiomatic language is used. - Evident display of impressive creativity and flair throughout the writing. 8-9 - Ideas – substantial, relevant and very logical. Most ideas are well developed and supported. - Organization of ideas is generally coherent and well-organized. Adequate paragraphing with very appropriate topic and supportive sentences. Smooth flow of ideas with use of cohesive devices. - Language – Good command of English. Frequent use of complex sentences with occasional minor errors. A wide range of appropriate vocabulary and idiomatic language is used. - Good display of creativity and flair throughout the writing. 6-7 - Ideas – reasonably substantial, relevant and fairly logical. Some ideas are well developed and supported. - Organization of ideas is satisfactorily coherent. Flow of ideas is occasionally hindered by paragraphs with inappropriate topic and supportive sentences. Smooth flow of ideas with use of cohesive devices. - Language – Satisfactory command of English. Frequent use of complex sentences with rather frequent minor errors and occasional gross errors are evident. A - Satisfactory display of creativity and flair in most parts of the writing. 4-5 - Ideas – fairly substantial, occasionally irrelevant and lack logic. Some ideas lack elaboration and supported. - Organization of ideas is generally weak. Flow of ideas is evidently impeded with one or two weak paragraphs. Occasional inappropriate topic and supportive sentences. Fair use of cohesive devices. - Language – Fair command of English. Frequent use of compound sentences. Complex sentences are few with frequent minor errors and occasional gross errors. A fair range of appropriate vocabulary. Limited use of idiomatic language. - Occasional display of creativity and flair in writing. Generally, a conventional way of writing. 2-3 - Ideas – inadequate, frequently irrelevant and illogical. Many ideas lack elaboration and supported. - Organization of ideas is evidently weak. Flow of ideas is evidently erratic and awkward. Most paragraphs are poor with frequent inappropriate topic and supportive sentences. Weak command of English. Mostly simple sentences are used. Frequent gross errors. A limited range of vocabulary. Hardly any use of idiomatic language. 6 0-1 - Hardly any display of creativity and flair in writing. - Ideas- barely adequate, irrelevant and not logic. Little / no evidence of ability to put forth ideas. - Coherence is absent in text. - Very poor command of English. Numerous errors impeding fluency of communication. - No creativity at all. APPLICATION The following adapted task illustrates the use of text types(the Genre approach) in teaching writing at Tran Bien High School. COURSE BOOK: ENGLISH 10 Unit 9: UNDERSEA WORLD Question: Write a paragraph that describe sperm whale (page 100) Activities I. Aims: Students are able to understand the objectives and structure of an information report genre and the processes involved, such as pre-writing, drafting, revising and editing. They will be able to make good use of the knowledge to produce a text in groups and individually. Activity 1 :(15minutes) Objectives: The purpose of this activity is to activate schema and provide the context for students to construct their writing. Procedure: o The teacher gives the students the topic for discussion, and encourage them to discuss in groups of six: “We are going to write about a very lovely and intelligent animal “the sperm whale”.What adjectives and ideas we can use to describe the sperm whale.” o Highlight that the purpose of the lesson is to write about sperm whale, a very important animal. o Elicit the key word ‘lifespan’ through question like “What is the life span of a sperm whale?” o Explain to students that they are going to learn a genre of writing called “information report”. 7 Activity 2 (15 min) Objectives: To reinforce the purpose of an information report essay by providing students with a basic understanding of the information report genre. Procedure: o Distribute information report text for all the students to get familiar with language patterns.. o Encourage students to read on their own and bear in mind the following questions: -What is the purpose of the text? -Who do you think it is written for (target audience)? -Did the writer achieve the purpose? - Do you think the text is natural and meaningful? Why? o After students finish reading, review the questions and summarize main points. Activity 3 (25 min) Objectives: To allow students to be familiar with the structural features of a typical information report Procedure: o Encourage students to re read the given text and pay special attention to structural features by focusing on the following questions: -How does the text start and end? -What is the pattern/sequence you see in the text? -What are the different stages in the text that you can identify? -What does each stage function as? o Students to work in groups and discuss their findings after re reading the text. o Get a representative from each group share their findings and ideas with the class. o Once every group has presented, consolidate the learning points. As a reinforcement, explicitly teach on the structural features in the writing that make it connective using. Clearly mark/highlight the features on the sample text. Activity 4 (25min) Objective To allow students to compare good and bad examples of an information report essay and reinforce their understanding of the structural features. Procedure: o Distribute another sample information report text that has random order of structure. 8 o Allow students enough time to read and compare it with the earlier sample using the following questions as criteria: What is the purpose of the text? Do you think this text achieve its purpose like the first one does? Why. o Discuss the responses with the students o Pupils to work in pairs and reorganize and improve the random structure according to the different stages of information report text. o Encourage students to improve the text’s effectiveness in persuading audience/readers. o Get pairs to exchange and read each other’s results. o Consolidate the results with class and clarify important points raised. Activity 5 (10 min) Objective: To arouse students’ interest in the topic for the writing lesson and prepare them for the joint construction of the text. Procedure: Revisit the context and ask students to focus on the word ‘mobile phones’. Write the word and create a word map. Students to brainstorm about things related to the words ‘sperm whale”. Teacher to list them on the word map as students contribute. Activity 6 (15 min) Objective: To provide students with the opportunity to produce a plan for an argumentative text (using a graphic organizer) as a class, in preparation for individual work. Procedure: o .Tell them to adopt the following position: “We love animals and we love sperm whale.” o Demonstrate the process involved in producing text by eliciting responses from students and suggestions about the structure of the text. o As students contribute, write the text clearly on the board or visualize so that students can focus on the meanings that they create. o Preview the jointly constructed graphic organizer. o Make revision where necessary. o Clarify and consolidate major points. Concluding Activity 7 (20 min) Objective: Students to apply what they have learnt to write their first draft independently. Procedure: o Present the context again to students. o Instruct them to write individually on the given topic. o Encourage students to present their own ideas and perspectives. 9 o Offer guidance to students where necessary. o If students are unable to finish within the allocated time, allow them to complete their first draft as homework and bring it the next lesson for revising. o In the next lessons, teachers will give more time for students to revise and edit their individual piece of writing. REFERENCES Anderson & Anderson, K. (1998). Text types in English. Australia: Macmillan Education. Badger, R. & White, G. (2000). Product, process and genre: Approach to writing in EAP. ELT Journal, 54(2), 153-160. Derewianka, B. (1990). Exploring how texts work. Australia: Primary English teaching Association. Harmer, J. (2004). How to teach writing. UK: Longman, Pearson Education Limited. Hedge, T. (2000). Teaching and learning in the language classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hyland, K. (2003). Second Language Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10
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