Saturday, April 14, 2012

Assignment 2 Revisited

After getting some feedback from my tutor, I decided to post an improved version of the same teaching sequence. This time you’ll see I included labels for the different stages and some further suggestions for the actual implementation.

Some words of warning are needed here. I enhanced the teaching sequence planned by L. Simón & G. Rosetti applying the following criteria:

- I divided the teaching sequence into 4 main stages: prep stage, content-oriented activities, skills-oriented activities and focus stage. The prep stage is what Willis calls ‘The Pre-task Stage’. The content-oriented activities are activities in which the main aim is to work on the subject content; in this case, History. The skills-oriented activities are activities in which the main aim is to develop 1 or 2 language skills (i.e. listening/watching, reading, speaking and writing). Notice that both content oriented-activities and skills-oriented activities belong to what Willis calls ‘The Task Cycle’. Finally, the focus stage is what Willis called ‘The Language Focus Stage’. I chose a plain label for this stage because at this stage you can have Ss analysing and systematising not only language (lexis, grammar and phonology) but discourse, skills and strategies. I decided to focus on grammar, but I could have focused on discourse and had Ss analysing the genre, text types and information distribution patterns.

- I included an assessment stage here and there as well. This is my own attempt to apply the concepts I’ve recently learnt in an in-service teacher training course. For the sake of time and space, I won’t discuss ‘assessment’ here but if you want to know more about my assessment planning decisions, post your queries and I’ll reply.

- I used the word ‘activity’ because the word ‘task’ is biased towards thinking of TBL and/or CLIL, but I’ve noticed some teachers are not well acquainted with the difference between ‘task’ and ‘activity’ according to TBL and CLIL underlying theories.

- I labelled each group of interconnected activities as ‘assignment’ (A-K).

- I kept the label ‘task’ (1-6) to show the changes since the authors of the teaching sequence used the label ‘task’.

There are still some shortcomings in this teaching sequence:

- There isn’t balance between activities that require the use of ICT tools and activities that are more traditional. Hence, there’s a risk that students might get hooked on the tool and forget about the real aim of the activity. The ICT tool must be just a means to an end: learning the content, developing skills, and so on. For instance, as I modified the teaching sequence, my main aims were to introduce the use of e-portfolios in the English lesson, teach students how to use EVERNOTE and have them reflecting upon such an experience.

- Then, we should try to strike a balance among activities that focus on content (of a school subject other than English Lg), activities that focus on the use of English (i.e. features of discourse, communicative functions, lexicogrammatical aspects, phonological aspects and language skills development), and activities that foster the development of thinking skills and learning-to-learn skills. For example, in the section ‘Focus on Grammar’, Assignment G, Activities 5.1.-5.5., there is a dramatic shift in theme. That is, the online interactive activities aren’t related to the French Revolution, but to literary narrative texts (anecdotes and short stories). I could have used the HOT POTATOES software here to improve these activities. Obviously, this would have taken longer. That’s why for the sake of saving time, I took a short cut here.

- As I was making changes to the teaching sequence, I had a very particular class in mind. That is, a small group of student with a good command of the English language I taught at a state secondary school in the province of BA last year. As you can easily see, that teaching context was quite unusual. Otherwise, I don’t really think I’d ever teach such teaching sequence at all; not because of the complexity of the activities but because of the irrelevance of the theme. Sorry if this sounds rude to you, but this is my opinion. However, I can say no more because I don’t know a single thing about the teaching context in which the authors planned to implement their teaching sequence.

- Please, do notice that I haven’t included any indications at all about how I’d divide the teaching sequence into 60-minute lessons. Obviously, each 60-minute lesson should start with a prep stage in which Ss review the previous lesson contents, preview the lesson contents, and activate (or build up) prior knowledge (about the theme, contents, etc.). Hence, at the points we decide to divide the teaching sequence into 60-minute lessons, relevant prep stage activities should be planned. Then, each lesson should ideally finish with a short revision of what Ss have covered so far.

- Finally, I haven’t overcome some technical issues yet. For instance, I couldn’t find a way to enlarge the TIP BOXES and USEFUL LANGUAGE BOXES so that they can be easily read when posted. The thing is that this text boxes have to be uploaded as pictures and the pictures can be shown on the blog in 5 sizes by default (i.e. small, medium, large, X-large, original size). I used the X-large size in all the boxes, but they still look small when posted on the blog. I’ll keep trying…



The Tennis Court Oath (French: Serment du jeu de paume) was a pivotal event during the first days of the French Revolution. The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789. They made a makeshift conference room inside a tennis court located in the Saint-Louis district of Versailles (commune), near the Palace of Versailles. [Borrowed from “Tennis Court Oath” in Wikipedia (last modified on 24th March 2012 at 11:10) retrieved on 24th March 2012 from]

Prep Stage

Assignment A

1- Visit “World History: French Revolution Pictures” at (Click and choose 1 out of the 30 pictures of the French Revolution. Look at the picture carefully. You can read the caption under the picture to understand the meaning of the picture.

TIPS: Take some minutes and look at other pictures carefully. Alternatively, you can google “french revolution images” and have a careful look at the pictures that turn out.

3- Open a new notebook on EVERNOTE:
Name the notebook as “French Revolution”.

4- Save a copy of the Google doc in a new page of the notebook named “French Revolution” on EVERNOTE; you’ll need to use it later on. Name the page “The French Revolution Brainstorming.”

Assessment Activities

Assignment B

Let’s reflect upon your own learning process.

1- Think over these questions:
·         What do you already know about the French Revolution?
·         What do you want to know about it?

2- Take some minutes and complete only the first two columns in the KWLH chart below.

What I Know
What I Want to know
What I have Learnt
How I learnt

3- Save this chart in a new page of the notebook named “French Revolution” on EVERNOTE; you’ll need to use it later on. Name the page “My Own Learning Process.”

Prep Stage

Assignment C (TASK 1)

1- Use the words in Assignment A to make a word cloud in WORDLE:

2- Make your own glossary with BABYLON GLOSSARY BUILDER. If this software is not installed in your netbook, you can download it from for free.
REMINDER: You have to include some examples to show how the words and expressions are used. You can write 1 or 2 sentences for each word / expression. You can also include related words (e.g. synonyms, antonyms, words that are frequently used together, etc.)

TIP: Alternatively, you can use MICROSOFT WORD to create your glossary, but you’ll need to follow the instructions at SHAUNA KELLY “Making the most of WORD in your business”

3- Save your word cloud and the glossary in a new page of the notebook named “French Revolution” on EVERNOTE; you’ll need to use them later on. Name the page “Important Words and Expressions.”

Skills-oriented Activities

Assignment D (TASK 2)

1- Watch the music video about the French Revolution:!. As you watch the video,

·         how many words in your Wordle can you recognise in the video?
·         list the words that appear in both your Wordle and the video.

2- Save your list in a new page of the notebook named “French Revolution” on EVERNOTE; you’ll need to use it later on. Name the page “French Revolution Coincidences”.

Assignment E (TASK 4)

1- Watch the video again. Tick (a) the right statements and put a cross (r) next to the wrong ones.

2- Account for all your answers by writing the time at which the corresponding subtitle is shown on the screen.
TIP: Watch the video several times to complete this activity.

¥There was a motto that described the revolution.
¥There were favours for the nobles.
¥There were a lot of taxes to pay.
¥The nobles were angry about the taxes.
¥There was little food for the peasants.
¥There were 6 coups d’état in 12 years.

3- Save your answers in a new page of the notebook named “French Revolution” on EVERNOTE; you’ll need to use them later on. Name the page “French Revolution Main Historical Facts”.

Content-oriented Activities

Assignment F (TASK 5 pt. 1)

1- Look up more information about the causes of the French Revolution. You can consult the four sources suggested below. As you read the sources, think these over:

·         Do all the sources present the same information? Same kind? Same amount? Same focus? Same way of presentation? Why?
·         What seems to be the author’s point of view in each source? Can you spot any instances of bias? Are all these sources reliable? Why?

Sources suggested:
HISTORY 151. The French Revolution: Causes, Outcomes, Conflicting Interpretations by Mr. Schwartz
THE HISTORY GUIDE. Lecture 11: The Origins of the French Revolution by Steven Kreis

2- What other sources can you consult? Surf the Internet to find reliable sources. Google “french revolution primary sources” and check out what turns up.
REMINDER: There are different types of sources…Can you recall them? If you can’t, check out your notes. We have already talked about this issue in class.

3- Save a copy of your sources in a new page of the notebook named “French Revolution” on EVERNOTE; you’ll need to consult them later on. Name the page “French Revolution Sources”
REMINDER: Use the appropriate citation conventions (e.g. APA or MLA). We have already talked about this issue in class. Re-read your notes.

Focus on Grammar

Assignment G

Let’s think over the use of language in the texts you have read.

1- Re-read the sources (Assignment F) you saved on EVERNOTE and find 2 examples of each of the three narrative tenses.

2- Write the examples under the corresponding explanation in the box below.

3- Complete the explanations with the name of the corresponding tense.

4. Read the grammatical explanations and examples on the websites below and check your answers to activity 3 above. Correct your wrong answers.

5. Let’s practise the narrative tenses. Do these online activities:

5.1. Verb Tense Exercise 11. Simple Past vs Past Perfect Simple:

5.2. Verb Tense Exercise 13. Past Perfect Simple vs Past Perfect Continuous:

5.3. Narrative Verb Tense Exercise. Past Tenses Gap-fill exercise:

5.4. The Narrative Tenses Review. Gap-fill exercise:

5.5. Narrative tenses. Excerpt 2 from Roald Dahl’s “Lamb to the Slaughter” Gap-fill exercise:

Content-oriented Activities

Assignment H

1- Use the key words in your glossary (Assignment C) and in your list (Assignment D) to make a mindmap with IHMC CMAP TOOLS: Be critical and selective.

2- Use the mindmap as a guide to extract the most relevant information from the sources you consulted in Assignment F and make a presentation with PREZI: Be critical and selective.

3- Include your mindmap in your presentation and save a copy of your presentation in a new page of the notebook named “French Revolution” on EVERNOTE. You’ll improve the presentation later on. Name the page “My View on the French Revolution 1.” You could choose a more creative title.
REMINDER: Your presentation must be academic (i.e. formal and precise) but it should also be appealing, engaging and creative. We have already talked about these issues in class; check out your notes.

Assignment I (TASK 6)

1- From all the information you summarised in your presentation about the French Revolution, choose only the most relevant historical events and create a timeline with TIMETOAST: Be critical and selective.

2- Revise and edit your timeline. First, check that you have included all the main facts in chronological order. Then, check that you have used the appropriate key words and expressions. Finally, check that you have used the correct narrative tenses.

3- Include your timeline in your presentation and save a copy of the improved version of your presentation in another page of the notebook named “French Revolution” on EVERNOTE. You’ll need to use this version of the presentation later on. Name the page “My View on the French Revolution 2.” You could choose a more creative title.

Skills-oriented Activities

Assignment J (TASK 3)

What do you think about the French Revolution?
Everybody wants to know your opinion about the French Revolution. So let’s get ready…

1- Take some minutes to get ready; use these tips:

2- Take turns to give your oral presentation. As your classmates talk, complete the summarising form below. This form will help you remember the information you want to ask questions about when each speaker finishes.

Speaker’s name
Presentation title
Most relevant information
Most interesting information
I wonder…
I think…

3- Save a copy of the presentation form in a new page of the notebook named “French Revolution” on EVERNOTE. You’ll need to use it later on. Name the page “My Classmates’ Oral Presentations.”

Assessment Activities

Assignment K (including TASK 5 pt.2)

1- Go over all the materials collected in your notebook named “French Revolution” on EVERNOTE and think over these questions:

·         What have you learnt about the French Revolution?
·         How did you learn?

2- Take some minutes and complete the last two columns in the KWLH chart that you saved on EVERNOTE in the page named “My Own Learning Process.”

What I Know
What I Want to know
What I have Learnt
How I learnt

3- Choose the most relevant things you have learnt about the French Revolution and make a video with MOVIE MAKER:
REMEMBER to be creative and careful when choosing pictures, photos, sounds and music. They must all be appropriate to an academic context.

4- In order to keep improving, you need to answer:

·         What do you think you still need to learn/practise?