Over the school break I went to SACE to be part of marking the ESL Investigation. This experience left me with a new way of looking at the Investigative Study. My new realisation was that the focus of the oral is primarily about the sources of information the students locate and how students use these in the process of writing their report.
Reflecting on how this could influence my teaching approach I have now changed the way I introduce the investigative process. Rather than starting with students choosing a contemporary issue of their own choice I want to start my teaching with looking at a variety of sources and how they express opinion and point of view. It is these opinions they need to investigate and then synthesise into a report.
To test this idea out I started term 4 with my ESL Stage 1 students doing the Oral Text Production. Here I introduced the investigation as a search for information. After eliciting several types of sources we explored what opinions a survey would reveal and who could be an accessible group to survey. Naturally, it was to use survey monkey with the school cohort. This then helped us decide on a topic from the teen magazine.
So what I’ve done is turn the focus of the investigation upside down; from students choosing their own topic based on personal interest (where many students are at a loss) to an examination of opinions and how to find out about different points of view.
As a class we chose sustainable fishing and tinned tuna as an issue that students would have an opinion on as they may have studied it in geography or nutrition. From this article we jointly constructed a mind map in which we defined concepts central to the issue and built technical vocabulary to construct our survey which was then sent to various teachers.
Our next source was a web page, Greenpeace, then a video, followed by a report and an info-graphic. From these we built a Lotus diagram. Now, we were ready to prepare the oral in which the focus could be on the sources, opinions and the research process.
How to prepare for the oral? This is where the L&L Levels fitted in so precisely. By looking at Grammar Knowledge: Expressing opinion and point of view I was able to locate teaching content for evaluative language, subjective and objective opinion, modality and bias. I used Levels 11 to 14 to locate the appropriate expression for students to use in their Power Point Presentation.
Using the Levels I created a range of supportive materials such as a word bank of positive and negative evaluative language, a video on projection and combining clauses and a document on the language of making judgements, evaluating information and other points of view.
Now to the most exciting part of this blog which was the students’ presentations. Their ability to talk about sources, opinions and the research process was far more interesting and captivating than I had anticipated because they had the language resources available to be more expressive. These skills will be most valuable across the curriculum and especially in the Research Project.
I will share my teaching resources at an upcoming presentation at the Secondary EALD Teacher Network Meeting on 21 November as well as on this blog.