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Ministry of Education.

Learning task 2

Learning intention(s)
  1. Explain why the population of the world has grown and the issues associated with population growth
  2. Use correct structure to formulate an essay
  3. Understand the purpose of an explanation
KCs/Principles/Values focus Thinking
And Contributing

Introduction to first issue – The Population Explosion

In this learning task students are exploring the question ‘Is the growing population really putting pressure on the earth or is it just a myth?’. Students will be exploring statistics, identifying reasons why the population has grown so rapidly, investigate the consequences of the growing population and ways in which different countries have tried to curb the growth using various methods.

Students will be considering the following questions:

  • How does population growth or decline influence economic and social well-being?
  • What impact does population growth have on poverty?
  •  What are the social and economic implications of population redistribution, through, for example, rural to urban or international migration?

At the end of this series of tasks students will be required to research an issue in depth, complete an inquiry in to an issue and then write an essay explaining their chosen issue, why it is an issue and ways in which the issue could be addressed.

In order for students to do this they need to be supported through the process of finding, interpreting and evaluating information. Whilst some students are already adept at finding and using information it is still valuable to expose them to different strategies.

As a modelling exercise the first issue studied (population) will be used to support students through an essay writing process. Students will be expected to write an essay:

Explain why the population has grown so rapidly, why it is an issue and ways in which this could be solved.’ 

Students are expected to include specific examples of ways in which some countries have attempted to reduce population growth, for example China and the one child policy. It is also expected that students include topic specific vocabulary within their essay.

It is valuable to have the data from diagnostic testing available to assist in this process. For example an asTTle writing task focusing on explanation can provide valuable data identifying where the students are at. It is also valuable to have discussions with other departments about what they would expect an essay to look like, for example English, History and Geography all require essay writing skills at NCEA level.

  1. Make connections to prior knowledge by referring back to the picture dictation task that students had previously completed. Ask students to revisit their word brainstorms with words relating to this particular issue. As a class compile a word list of associated words.

    An Anticipatory Reading Guide is used to assess the students’ knowledge before beginning a lesson. It enables the teacher to gain a picture of exactly what the students already know about this topic. It also gets the students thinking about what some of the issues relating to population growth may be and provides an opportunity at the end of this learning phase for students to reflect on whether they would change their decisions.

  2. Explain to students that the first issue that they will be exploring is the rapidly growing population of the earth. Hand out the Anticipatory Reading Guide. Explain to students that they are to complete the guide by placing an a or b beside each statement. An A represents the idea that they agree with the statement, while a B indicates that they disagree. As a class share answers and compile a chart indicating everyone’s responses. At the end of this section of learning refer back to the guide and the class compilation. Ask students to reflect on whether or not they would change their ideas and if so why?
  3. Discuss with students how to construct a graph.
  4. Provide students with a copy of a ' World Population Growth Graph'. This can be found on page 4 of the textbook or alternatively use the attached version. Using the graph get students to identify the features that make an effective graph: Heading, labels, key etc. Ask students if they can identify what the x and y axis show. This enables the teacher to develop knowledge of whether or not the students have a basic ability to read a graph before moving on to interpretation of the graph.
  5. Ask students to complete questions relating to interpreting the graph. Discuss the answers as a class.
  6. Using the graph discuss with the class the fact that the world’s population began increasing rapidly over a short period of time. Ask them if they can think of any reasons for this? Discuss the development of health and hygiene practices over time and what impact this may have had.

    Preview and predict/Asking Questions

    Previewing a text enables students to predict the content they are likely to come across. By using this strategy students’ are able to check their predictions and identify new information being introduced. (ELP Page 64)

    By asking questions before, during and after reading students are able to clarify their purpose for reading. Students are able to utilise the knowledge they already hold and also clarify new knowledge gained.

    In this section of learning students will be introduced to a range of texts providing information about poverty stricken areas such as Ethiopia and parts of South Africa. By reading these texts it is hoped they will gain an understanding of the issues arising from poverty which in many cases is a result of population growth and lack of resources.

  7. Begin by asking students what they already know about Ethiopia. It is possible at this point to get students to construct a map of Ethiopia and to provide or ask students to find out basic facts such as population and amount of rainfall per year. It is also an opportunity to provide the class with images of Ethiopia and get them to write statements about the images and what they show. Do they think these images reflect reality? What do they tell us about daily life in Ethiopia? What challenges can they identify that the people face?
  8. Introduce the text ‘ Rural Poverty in Ethiopia

    Present a summary to the students of the headings/subheadings from the article. Ask them to make notes under each heading about what they would expect to find in each section.Ask the students to read the first section of the article – An agrarian society in a land of drought. What do they think will be discussed next? Can they identify any words they do not know? How can they determine the meaning of these words from the article itself?

    As students read they should be checking their predictions and ticking them off if they feel they are correct.

    What the teacher is looking for:
    Are the students’ making logical predictions from the headings or from their previous reading of a chunk of text?Are they engaged in the task?
    Are they monitoring their understanding by highlighting words they are unsure of?

    As students read ask them to write down any questions they may have about Ethiopia/poverty/causes that have arisen because of what they are reading or thinking. Can they find the answers to any questions within the text? Introduce students to the idea that often because of poverty lack of rain etc people migrate to the cities in search of better opportunities. What impact could this have on the cities/housing/land use?

  9. Use pages 10 and 11 of the textbook to investigate the growth of cities and the impact this has on poverty and population.
  10. Visit the website www.globalissues.org Before getting students to complete the task, complete an activity that requires them to identify specific text features that they can see. It is important that students are provided with the opportunity to revisit strategies frequently. Ask students to identify the text features they can see. Also ask them where they might go to find specific pieces of information relating to an issue.
  11. Students click on the Poverty: Facts and Stats link. Ask students to choose 4-5 facts about poverty that they find interesting. They write these facts down and then write an explanation about why they found these facts interesting. They can also use these facts to help support the essay that they will write.

    Skimming and scanning
    Once they have practised this strategy a number of times students will be able to use skimming and scanning in their independent reading in order to find and locate information quickly. By skimming and scanning students develop the ability to read more efficiently by gaining an overview of the text and what it is about. They can then decide on other strategies that may help them.

  12. Choose an article or articles from the Global Issues website from the Human Population or Poverty section on the site. It may be that the teacher can choose more than one article and get students to work as pairs or groups. These articles could be printed or alternatively students read them directly from the website.
    Explain to students how skimming and scanning strategies. Give them 60 seconds to skim-read headings, subheadings and some of the words they think are key to the topic. Ask the students to jot down these key words.

    Discuss their findings. Then give the students another 3-5 minutes to scan for three or four key points that expand on the headings from the text. In pairs or small groups get students who have read the same article to compare their ideas or findings. An extension on this is to repeat the exercise with students swapping articles. Do they identify the same key words/ideas? Share their findings with the class.
    It is also effective to have a series of questions that the students answer more in depth relating to the article.
    What the teacher is looking for:

    • Are the students critically analysing their notes and identifying the key points that they found and also those they missed?
  13. How has population growth been defused? Introduce to students the idea that different governments around the world have tried various methods to curb population growth. Ask students if they know what some of these methods may be? (for example, students may know about China’s 1 child policy.)

    A useful article about population control in China can be found at:
    http://countrystudies.us/china/ 34.htm

    This article can also be used to practice skimming and scanning or previewing and predicting. Students’ can predict why they think China introduced birth control methods sch as the one child policy and what impact this could have on society.

    Use this issue to introduce the students to a supported essay writing process. This essay can then be used to assess where the students are at and also their understanding of the topic. By providing the students with writing frames to guide them and modelling the expectations and structure students become more aware of what is expected.

    A useful piece on India:  India government launches new program to control growing population

  14. Explain why the population of the world has grown so rapidly, why it is an issue and ways in which this could be solved.
    It is important that students know what they are doing, why they are doing it and how to do it. For many students, writing an essay is challenging. By going through a scaffolded process the teacher support can slowly be removed, enabling students to become independent learners.

    Textbook Case Study. If the textbook is available there is a useful case study on Auckland’s transport woes on pages 12 and 13. This is an excellent case study for identifying viewpoints. The activities on these pages involve analysing population growth in NZ and looking at solutions to Auckland’s transport problems.
    Formative Assessment - Essay on Population Growth.

  15. Begin by introducing students to the main purposes for academic writing. There is an excellent table on page 132 of Effective Literacy Strategies in Years 9 to 13 which outlines the main purposes of academic writing. It is beneficial to give students a modified copy of this or see essay descriptor sheet. Students can then have this to refer back to. Go through the various words and then tell students that they are going to be completing an essay that requires them to ‘explain’ an issue. Redefine explain and ask students if they can give examples of when you may be expected to explain something.
  16. Introduce students to the essay question they are expected to respond to.
    Explain why the population of the world has grown so rapidly, why it is an issue and ways in which this could be solved.

    When writing, students should be asking themselves a range of questions to prompt their thinking and ideas. For the purpose of modelling asking questions go through the process with the students. The four stages of writing can be covered at various points over this process but should be repeated throughout the unit in order for students to develop independence and understanding.

    • Forming Intentions
    • Composing a text
    • Revising
    • Publishing

     (refer to ELP Years 9 to 13 page 135)

    For the purpose of this essay begin with a guided writing task where the teacher and students collaborate together to develop the plan, language and ideas they will use in the task. Students learn how to brainstorm, plan ideas and draft a piece of writing.
    It is important to explain to students that as part of their summative assessment they will be expected to write an essay on a chosen issue and that the next steps will assist them with being able to do this independently.

  17. Forming intentions:

    Clarify the purpose and the audience with the students. Who exactly are they writing for? What sort of language may be used?

    Discuss that there are essentially three parts to the essay question that require answering.

    Ask students to complete a brainstorm either as a class or in small groups using the topic specific language, ideas or knowledge they now have about each aspect of the question. These ideas can be recorded on the chart. Ask a series of questions of students to ensure they have fully understood the topic and areas which may require further teaching.
    What the teacher is looking for:
    Do students appear to have an understanding of the topic?
    Are they extending their understanding by learning from others and trying new ideas? 

  18. Composing a text

    Students can now be introduced to a writing frame.
    A writing frame is a skeleton outline of a planned text that includes prompts for learner writers. This outline summarises the structure of the planned text and what should be included in each section. The prompts, which may include key questions, key points or sentence starters, are designed to help students fill in the outline. (ELP page 141)
    By using a writing frame a teacher is providing the students with a structure for a draft piece of writing. These can be used collaboratively or by individual students. When students become familiar with using a frame they can develop the ability to use them independently within their writing. The teacher can work through the writing frame as a whole or complete some sections with students while other sections are filled out independently. Writing frames can vary in complexity – some have wordbanks, others have fewer prompts for more able students. It may be that more than one frame may be developed for a particular topic or task to cater for the ability levels within the group.

    Introduce students to the Population Explosion writing frame. Explain the writing frame in detail and also how it matches the structure of an essay with introduction, paragraphs and conclusion. It is also an appropriate time to introduce students to the concept of the acronym ‘SEX/SEE’ – statement, explanation, example. As a class work through the writing frame, thinking out loud to complete each section and encouraging the students to share their thoughts and ideas from the brainstorming session. Depending on the ability levels within the class the teacher can either:

    • Complete the entire frame as a collaborative task with the class
    • Allow students to complete individually
    • Work with selected students who may be struggling while allowing more able students to continue working independently.

    What the teacher is looking for:

    • Are the students critically analysing and reasoning as they create their extended text using frames?
    • As students become familiar with the text structure, can they write independently?

    If students have been working independently to complete the frame, ask them to read back responses to either a partner or the class in order to clarify their ideas. This enables them to revise their thinking – has appropriate language been used? Have ideas been linked? Will the writing engage the intended audience?
    Students then write their essay in published form – proof reading, completing the text and then making it available to the intended audience for feedback.
    It is important to use this essay to guide next teaching steps.

    • Have the students been able to effectively write an essay which conveys not only their understanding of the topic but also their ability to use correct structure?
    • Have they linked ideas and used paragraphing?
    • Do they effectively answer the question?

    Students need written feedback on this essay so that they are aware of the steps they may need to take in the final assessment. It is also beneficial to provide students with the self assessment schedule for ‘explanation’ found at the Assessment Resource Bank – WL3712. This allows students and teachers to assess their essays for structure and content.
    Students will revisit the essay writing process in the summative assessment task. Therefore the skills needed should be practised within the context of the next issue studied also. This may build on the use of frames or writing outlines or reduce the need for scaffolds because of student ability or knowledge of structure.

Published on: 20 Dec 2010