Scaffolding Reading and Writing<br />Across the Curriculum <br />
Some starting points:<br /><ul><li>We are often misled when we hear students speak in everyday conversation.
When conversing informally they use a very different type of English than they need for academic purposes.
We cannot assume that students have the knowledge, skills, and strategies needed to read or write in English for a particular academic situation.
We need to explicitly model and teach the academic English that IB tasks require.
If we explicitly address the academic and linguistic demands that IB tasks demand of our students, everyone should benefit.
The “But I have a syllabus to cover!” argument</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>In their oral interactions, our students generally use English fluently, confidently, but not accurately.
The textbooks and other materials we use give the students exposure to well-written English, appropriate to a particular type of situation/audience/culture.
In their books and other reading materials students have the opportunity to develop their language skills as well as their subject knowledge, but we need to guide them, or, in the rush to acquire subject knowledge, they miss the chance to enhance their understanding of how the language is used.
The “but as long as they can communicate...isn’t that enough?” argument</li></li></ul><li>
Setting the context<br /><ul><li>Find out what the students know about the topic
Engage students, create connections, stimulate interest, motivate, and establish a purpose
Introduce useful terminology</li></li></ul><li>Modeling/Deconstruction<br /><ul><li>Examine the structure of model texts.
Look at language choices and predictable patterns in texts and the expectations of tasks.
Discuss the above explicitly with students.</li></li></ul><li>Joint construction<br /><ul><li>Work with students to jointly produce a sample text or texts.
Draw on shared understandings about the topic and the text.
Create an opportunity to participate in a successful text construction.
Take through students through some of the decisions made in constructing a successful text.
Generate feedback from the class on joint construction effort.</li></li></ul><li>Independent construction<br /><ul><li>Support students to produce their own texts, </li></ul>applying new understandings of text and topic.<br /><ul><li>Provide explicit feedback (from peers and/or teacher) on how to improve the text.</li></li></ul><li>Language can be challenging on account of...<br /><ul><li>variety
abstract nouns</li></li></ul><li>How can we scaffold <br />the reading experience <br />for our students?<br />
<br />What do the students need to understand in order to successfully engage with a text?<br />
<br />Purpose<br /><ul><li>Why was this written? To explain? Persuade? Argue? Instruct? Describe?
Why are the students being asked to read it? What will they be expected to do with it?</li></li></ul><li>Structure<br /> <br /><ul><li>How is the reading organised?
What is the purpose of each paragraph or section?
What are predictable structural features, e.g. topic sentences.</li></li></ul><li>Language<br /><ul><li>key vocabulary
grammatical forms and </li></ul> structures<br /><ul><li>connecting/transitions </li></ul> words and phrases<br /><ul><li>prepositions
idioms, phrasal verbs, and so on</li></ul> <br />
When planning a reading assignment, consider the following:<br /><ul><li>How appropriate is the text? Do you need to annotate it or find an alternative that is more accessible? Do you need to select some sections and leave out others?
What are your content and language objectives?
What do the students know about this topic? How can I find out?
How can I motivate the students to connect with what they are going to read and learn?</li></ul> <br />
<ul><li>Which reading strategies are most appropriate for comprehending this text?
If students do partner reading, what are the best sections to use? How should the partner reading be carried out and what should the focus be?
Which words should I teach? How should they be taught? How can I make sure students use new vocabulary?
Is there a graphic organiser the students can use during or after reading?</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>What are my questions to the students before, during, and after reading?
During reading, where should we stop and debrief? If students are reading at home, where should they stop and summarise what they’ve understood so far?
When and how will I expect the students to generate their own questions, and what will they do with them?
How should content knowledge be assessed? What evidence of vocabulary, grammar, critical thinking, etc. should students be able to produce?</li></li></ul><li>Vocabulary <br /><ul><li>needs to be taught before, during, and after reading, and students need to be given opportunities to actively use new vocabulary in meaningful contexts.
Students need to hear the words pronounced and to pronounce it themselves, repeatedly. The stress also needs to be practised.
They need to connect the sound to the symbols.
A definition needs to be given, and multiple definitions, possible causes of confusion, need to be explained.
The word should be used in context, and students need to become “engaged with the word” through oral activities.</li></li></ul><li>Reading comprehension skillsand strategies<br /><ul><li>identifying main ideas
making inferences, predicting</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>In the early weeks of the term, some students are still unfamiliar with the rhythms and systems of English.</li></ul> <br /><ul><li>What they read may not be what is written.</li></ul> <br /><ul><li>Teacher-guided reading can model processes skills, and strategies that you want the students to develop and use.</li></li></ul><li>Teacher-reading strategies: <br /><ul><li>Read a couple of sentences or a paragraph and summarise in your own words.
Reflect on what know about the topic already and make predictions.
When you come to a difficult word, look for clues to meaning and talk through the guessing/figuring out process.
Ask yourself aloud how what you’ve read relates to what came before.</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Talk about the purpose of a paragraph.
Mention text-related questions that arise in your mind as you read.
Note punctuation, sentence structures, interesting grammar, use of idioms, humour, transitions, etc.
Comment on words that have irregular spelling or pronunciation.</li></li></ul><li>Going back to a Teaching-Learning Cycle...<br />
Follow-up activities could include:<br /><ul><li>Students do a telephone role play, with one explaining the recipe to a friend who needs to bake a cake. The listener asks questions and requests clarification.
Students work in pairs through other recipes, practising the process modelled by the teacher, with the teacher circulating and supporting.
A recipe is cut into strips that students order, justifying decisions in discussion.
The joint construction of a recipe for a well-known dish all students have in common.
Independent writing of a recipe for a favourite dish, which is then shared with others, edited, and put in a class collection...
which can then be sold with the proceeds going to one of the college fund-raising groups.</li></li></ul><li>Partner reading, a cooperative learning strategy<br /><ul><li>Before starting this technique, students need to know what behaviour is expected during reading. They need to know how to listen actively, give constructive support, and work cooperatively.
Students should be paired so that there are not two students with little English together. Ideally, a linguistically stronger student will be matched with a less proficient student.
Initially, alternate sentence reading can ease students into this activity. Start with asking students to reread what you have read, paying attention to pronunciation, stress and intonation, punctuation.
After reading a few alternate sentences, students stop and practise the strategy the you have assigned, e.g. summarising or generating questions or guessing the meaning of words in context.</li></li></ul><li>Scaffolding Writing<br /><ul><li>Students need to understand the choices that writers make when constructing texts.
We can explicitly point out features (language, structures, patterns) of different texts used in different situations.
The less students have to guess about these features and choices, the better.
The processes involved in writing need to be made as transparent as possible. </li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Grammatical scaffolding: exercises designed to target particular grammatical structures
Outlining and writing frames: exercises providing 'skeleton' outlines, perhaps with sentence prompts, key vocabulary or pre-arranged paragraphs, to give writers a structure to write in
Cloze procedures: exercises in which texts with missing elements - words, phrases, sentences - have to be completed by the student
Re-writing: exercises which provide language elements of a text but which require rewriting in some way, perhaps re-arranging in an appropriate order or changing the tone
Genre scaffolding: using models or samples to discover and then imitate language features which are commonly used in a particular type of text, such as description or explanation</li></ul>Examples of exercises which work on the principle of guided learning through practice:<br />
More ideas...<br /><ul><li>Rhetorical Models: using models to compare how texts perform functions such as presenting an argument, giving examples or expressing personal opinions - always followed by practice exercises involving imitation or 'improving' a bad or incomplete example
Joint Construction: an exercise where a group of learners construct a text together, for example on an overhead projector or a flipchart, with the teacher as the 'scribe' and 'mentor', suggesting possible words and phrases but also writing down what the learners say to build up a text (this approach can also be used effectively for revising a first draft)
Peer Response Feedback: an exercise where learners work in pairs or small groups, perhaps using prompts provided by the teacher, to respond to each other's writing
Teacher Feedback: can be used not just to grade and evaluate, but also to scaffold future writing</li></li></ul><li>Talking <br /> writing. <br />
If students can<br /><ul><li>talk through processes,
discuss the pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses of different examples of a particular type of text,
identify structural elements, appropriate language, transitions, and so on, and
participate in a jointly constructed piece of writing guided by the teacher, </li></ul>they are much more likely to have successful outcomes when they come to produce independent work.<br />
The teacher can<br /><ul><li>present many models and guided examples of how to look at writing,
assess the strong and weak points, look for better alternatives, and
point out and discuss the language structures and vocabulary that go with specific tasks. </li></li></ul><li>Summing it up...<br /><ul><li>Before you give the students something to read, make sure you are familiar with it. Have a clear idea of why you want them to read the text and what you expect them to get out of it.
When planning reading activities, consider the linguistic demands being placed on the students as they read.
Make the structure, language expectations, and purpose of tasks explicit.
When planning, keep in mind a Teaching and Learning Cycle.
Model tasks you expect your students to do. Move to collaborative activities and only then to independent work.
Try reading in class yourself and establish partner-reading routines, pointing out the features of a text and practising reading skills and strategies.</li>