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English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Learning task 2: Exploratory activities A

Oral Anecdotes

Let the students know in advance that they will be telling an anecdote about an interesting and memorable camp experience to a small group of other students and will later be writing about one memorable experience. They need time to think about one that they would like to work on in some depth in both speaking and writing.

Discuss - What is an anecdote? Why do people tell anecdotes? (To entertain or inform...) Who do they tell them to? (Identify audience) How do they tell them? (Language style, register) Is it formal or informal? What would be a good camp anecdote to tell? Why? How could the speaker make it interesting for those listening? (Verbal and non-verbal techniques: tone, volume, pace, facial expressions, gestures, pauses)

The modelling (RTF 8KB) the oral retelling of an anecdote to the class using a variety of techniques.

Display the peer_assessment_oral (RTF 39KB) form enlarged to an A3 chart size. Discuss the assessment criteria. Talk about group assessment: cooperation and collaboration, reaching a consensus, sensitivity to other's feelings, no put-downs, how to give positive advice, how to accept positive advice...

Assess the teacher's modelled oral anecdote together with the class, filling in the form as you go. This will communicate guidelines on how it is done and give expectations for when the students do this in small groups independently.

Group the students into small groups of three or four. Sit in a sharing circle to facilitate active listening by the audience.

Each student in the group tells an anecdote about a personally significant and/or challenging camp experience to their small group. One student tells an anecdote, while the other group members listen. Do not use the assessment form at this point; focus on the speaking and listening interaction. Sit back and enjoy it!

Possible drama variations:

  1.  Listening and Speaking Variation - students could form new groups and relate one of the stories to the new group members who have not heard it. Then groups could be reassembled with the orginal story-teller checking how accurately their story had been re-told.
  2.  Presenting Extension - the story-teller becomes the director of a short drama based on their story. S/he casts other group members to adopt key roles, informs them clearly of the sort of person they are to play, provides explicit details of the story and rehearses the group through the drama prior to a sharing with the whole class.

Assess each student, one at a time, directly after his or her retelling, using the peer assessment form. The whole group, (including the speaker being assessed), discusses the assessment criteria together and fills out the assessment form. All members then sign the assessment form.

The next student now tells their anecdote, continuing in this way until all members of the group have had their turn.

Word Bank: Five Senses

Building vocabulary in preparation for writing. Select one camp experience to make a using the five senses: what did you see? hear? smell? feel? taste? during your chosen activity. Model how to make a word_bank (RTF 10KB) with the class before the students make their own in small groups.

Using a thesaurus and 'thinking aloud', model how you take care to choose just the right words to describe exactly what you saw, heard, felt, smelt and tasted in detail - eg. don't say the air stunk when the air smelt of musty clothes and mouldy fruit. Model how to be specific in your choice of nouns and verbs - eg. don't say the bird flew when it darted, circled or swooped.

Students get into small groups of two or three who have chosen the same camp activities, and record on their own word banks, sharing ideas, "hitchhiking" off each other, extending and learning from each other.

Record the name of the activity and draw a small picture in the blank square on their word bank. The word bank does not have to be completely filled in, it can be added to as you read and talk about model recounts or conference writing during the unit.

Students glue stick these word banks into their writing books ready for draft writing. Display modelled word bank in the display area with the photos, and Feelings and Bus Stop Charts already completed. These will then provide scaffolding for students during the process of writing their own personal recounts.

Teachers need to provide students with "scaffolding". This means temporary support: teaching students in such a way that what they can do with help today, they can do by them selves tomorrow. Focusing on the reading skills each student already has, with a clear understanding of what the student needs to learn next, the teacher can give the student just the right amount of modelling, support, and guidance.

Material from The Learner as a Reader is reproduced by permission of the publishers Learning Media Limited on behalf of Ministry of Education, P O Box 3293, Wellington, New Zealand, © Crown, 1996.

Published on: 06 Apr 2009