Transcript of Teaching grammar


Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to Teaching Grammar in Context. I've got a little poll up there for you to start with. And I've just realised that I haven't got a chat pod, so I'll quickly put up a chat pod for you. If you have any technical issues or anything like that, feel free to put the chat pod in. I see that most people look like they're pretty comfortable teaching grammar, that's great. So we all might be able to share in new understandings and start the conversation today. First of all, before the meeting starts, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to elders past and present. We acknowledge the contributions of Aboriginal Australians and non-Aboriginal Australians to the education of all people in this country that we live in and share together, Australia. Just as a warning that this Adobe Connect session is being recorded and that the comments in the chat box are obviously recorded as well. And then once it's been recorded, we, the DEC, can use it in any form that it wishes. So, really, it's just about being careful about what you say in the chat box, I think, which I will move back over for you. I'll just move this a little bit. Alright. And I'll just move that as well. Great. Thank you for filling out the poll. It's really nice to get an understanding of what people feel about grammar. OK, so today, we want to examine some rich texts and the opportunities for teaching grammar. Obviously link the teaching and learning experiences that we'll discuss to syllabus outcomes and begin to look at visual grammar. And as I say, begin - we're only going to touch on it. So, I guess, today I've started from the beginning, which might be great for some and for some people you may already be past that, but hopefully you'll get some practical ideas out of today. And at the end, I've got some questions to ask you about where to next for next term's Adobe. So while I'm talking to you today, have a think about what else you'd like for next term. Alright, so what is grammar? Well, as you can see, this is from the Board of Studies, this is the syllabus definition - "The structure of the language we use and the description of the language as a system." In both describing language, attention is paid to both structure, which is form, and meaning, which is function, at the level of the construction of words, the word, the sentence and the text. So, really, what grammar does is give us the language to talk about the form of the text and the function of the text. Which goes really nicely with the main process of the syllabus and you see I flash this up all the time - responding and composing. So when we're reading and listening and viewing, we can study that grammar, and when we're composing, we can use that grammar as well. I noticed that most people have done annotations on a text, but what I wanted to just flag for you was that the study and use of English that we looked at in annotations on a text sums up how nicely grammar is as a tool to create meaning and a metalanguage for studying how that meaning is made. Teaching grammar works best if the study and use are used in tandem, in a meaningful context. So what we mean by that is it's all very well to highlight the adjectives on a worksheet or in a book or whatever, but unless the students are then talking about what effect those adjectives may have on the sentence or the paragraph and then using that style of writing themselves, we're not doing the two, the study and the use. The syllabus reflects this and that's why grammar is a multimodal outcome but also why in every grammar outcome, students are expected to respond and compose using the knowledge and skills appropriate to the stage. And last time you were with me, we went through this idea of the use of English and the study of English and I think grammar illustrates that nicely because it is the use AND the study. And if we're doing both things together, then we're doing English. So you're probably very familiar with the Early Stage 1 level of grammar and you can see here, some of the things that are in Early Stage 1 - vocab, word order, nouns...sorry, statements, questions, commands, punctuation, sentences, nouns, pronouns, conjunctions. What the syllabus expects is that not only that students identify these aspects of grammar, but that they can talk about them and then show their deep understanding about them by using them in their composing. So what I'm going to do today is look at Early Stage 1 to Stage 3 and we're going to look at an example from each of the stages and how we might use that in the classroom, just as a starting-off point, and then we're going to just look at the visual grammar. So our first example here, Early Stage 1. Now, this is 'Does a Kangaroo have a Mother, Too?' by Eric Carle. And this is a really nice example because this is, sort of, probably the level of text you might be using with Early Stage 1 in a guided reading/learning experience. You know, when you've got a group of five or four or six children on the floor, they're probably going to have a text that is similar to this - maybe two lines, maybe three. And there's lots of questions and answers happening in texts like that. Now, it's really nice if you can use a rich text such as this one. But if not, even in your guided reading time. So on one session of guided reading, you might be focusing on the decoding and the conventions about book and print conventions and the cues they needs for reading, but also in the next session, you might now talk about what the text is doing and how the meaning is being shaped. So what do I mean by that? So, we could ask the students, "What is the 'yes' doing on this page?" And they have to try and talk about that and articulate that. It is an exclamation which is answering the question from the previous page. Can you find a statement? Now, there are a couple of statements on the page. Can they find the statement? And what is the difference between the statement and a question? And you can start talking about that. Can you find a word on the page that names something? So when we're looking at nouns and they can find a word on the page that names something. Why is that an important word in the sentence? And you can start to have a conversation about, "Well, if that word wasn't there, we wouldn't know what the rest of the sentence was about. If that word changed, it could change the meaning of the sentence." And very subtly, you're starting to teach them all about grammar but in the context of the text they are reading. And then when it comes time to compose a text, either speaking and listening... speaking and writing, sorry, you'll be able to say, "Remember, we did this?" And you'll be able to get them to really think about their grammar. So for Early Stage 1, it's pretty simple and I'm sure we're all very comfortable with that. Stage 1 - uses basic grammatical features, punctuation conventions and vocab appropriate to the type of text when responding to and composing texts. So let's have a look at some of the key ideas here. Vocab - again, we want to broaden their vocab. Synonyms and antonyms, conjunctions, alliteration, onomatopoeia, cohesive texts, and that's what we're going to look at today. So, this is Roald Dahl, and I have used this sample at a couple of presentations, so if you've been to any you may already know what I'm going to tell you. But if you're looking for rich examples of grammar, and especially in context, you can't go past Roald Dahl. I'd like you to stop and reflect for a moment, especially if you're with a team, what would you teach from this excerpt of the text here? It's from 'George's Marvellous Medicine'. So I'm just going to pause for about one minute. You may like to add some of your ideas into the chat box. Expression. Thanks, Tim, for being our first brave person. Synonyms. Speech. Question marks, exclamations. Look, you've found a whole lot of things here - personal pronouns, use of italics. Tense. Rhetorical questions. Descriptive language. Great. So there's lots there that you can teach. And obviously we all know Roald Dahl and one of the reasons he's so popular... Figurative language. Thank you. Adverbs, descriptive language. exactly the reason because he writes so beautifully and it's so easy to identify what he's been doing with the text. So think again about how you'd use this piece of writing. Now, Stage 1 students, many of them will be able to read this or be... And you can teach the reading process here, the decoding and the cues and the fluency. But then when they have that, you can also have a look at the grammar and what he's done to create this and what does it do to the text? So we don't want to just say, "Oh, yes, he's used such and such," and identify it, we want to say, "How does that affect the text?" So let's have a look. OK, so what I would teach from this text is synonyms and antonyms, and someone had already said that, so first of all, it's really nice to show what a synonym and an antonym is because we have the synonyms here and the synonyms here but they work together as synonyms and antonyms. But what they really do is they go towards making the text cohesive and it links beautifully to a content point from Stage 1, which is, "Understand how texts are made cohesive through resources. For example, word associations, synonyms and antonyms." Now, because this content point that I've just read out is concerned with word associations, we are really looking at the cohesion level of the text at a word level, not at a whole-text level. And if you want to consult Beverly Derewianka, she says in her 'New Grammar Companion' that, "Cohesive devices make links between various items in the text so that the reader is able to track how meaning is being developed." And if you have a look at how Roald Dahl's done that, he started with 'bulge', he's built up to 'swelling' - 'puffing up', 'pumping up', 'explode'. Now, what happens after something explodes? Things start to go down. So you already have this idea that it can't go any bigger because you can't go past explosion. And then slowly we've got - 'puncture', 'hiss of escaping air', 'stopped swelling', 'going down', 'getting thinner', 'shrinking', 'shrivelly'. And so you can track what's happening in the text really nicely by these synonyms and antonyms. And he has made the text flow using those. So it's a really nice learning experience to get the students to identify them at first and then talk about, "What has he done? And what effect does that have on the text?" And, of course, then we want our students to go and try and have a go at using a technique such as this in their writing. Now, Tony, I can see you've raised your hand. If you have a question, it's probably best to put it in the chat box and I'll try and answer it for you. OK, Stage 2 - Uses effective and accurate sentence structure, grammatical features, punctuation conventions and vocab relevant to the type of text when responding to and composing." So you can see again that this multimodal element of grammar is running right through in the outcome. So let's have a look at the key points here. Again, vocab. Experiment with punctuation to engage the reader and achieve purpose, prepositional phrases, reported and quoted speech, tense. And they're just some of the things that jumped out at me when I read the content. But you've probably guessed because I've highlighted it in orange, we're going to think about this idea of experimenting with punctuation to engage the reader and achieve a purpose. Traditionally, we're very good at getting students to correct the punctuation, put the sentences in the right order, put the full stops in, put the commas in, put the capital letters in and make it flow in that conventional way. We're probably not as good... And that achieves a purpose, yes, and that's, you know, when we're using an informative text, great. But if we're looking at imaginative texts, how can we experiment with the punctuation to engage the reader? Now, this is not going to be the Roald Dahl afternoon, but I am using another Roald Dahl text and it's from 'The BFG' and this time we're going to listen to it. So I'm going to play it and you'll be able to see up the top - you should see it start playing. Put your hand up or type if you can't hear it. Here we go.


"But because I is refusing to gobble up human beans like the other giants, I must spend my life guzzling up icky-poo snozzcumbers instead. If I don't, I will be nothing but skin and groans." You mean skin and bones." "I know it is bones," the BFG said. "But please understand that I cannot be helping it if sometimes I is saying things a little squiggly. I is trying my very best all the time." The Big Friendly Giant looked suddenly so forlorn that Sophie got quite upset. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be rude." "There never was any schools to teach me talking in Giant Country," the BFG said sadly. "But couldn't your mother have taught you?" "My mother! Giants don't have mothers! Surely you is knowing that." "I did not know that." "Whoever heard of a woman giant! There never was a woman giant! And there never will be. Giants is always men!"


OK, great. So I'm going to leave you with that for a minute and I want you to have a think about what stands out at you there and what do you think you'd be able to teach from that as a spoken text? So have a chat amongst yourselves if you're with someone. If not, just throw something onto the chats and we can all sort of have that... we can use it as inspiration. Great, so we've got some really good ideas there and all of those are perfectly valid. I think that listening to the effect grammar has on a spoken text is really important and obviously we've touched on the fact that grammar is a multimodal outcome, so we're not just analysing text for it as far as reading goes, we have to listen for it and then shape how it's been... and talk about how it's been shaped. This Roald Dahl sample is so rich in opportunities for teaching grammar and you've already... Great, thank you for the spoonerisms.'ve already identified some of the things that you could easily teach from it. But interestingly enough, the grammar directly affects the reader's comprehension of the overall story. And what I mean by that is that from listening to the giant, even before you hear him say that he never had a mother and he never went to school, from listening between Sophie's way of speaking and the giant's way of speaking, already a mature reader knows that... or a mature listener knows that the giant doesn't follow the usual conventions of the English language and that is probably because he hasn't been to school or had any sort of education. Now, part of that is pivotal to the whole story. So it's really that inferential comprehension that starts to come out at this level when we're looking at grammar. It gives us the clues for the inference that the students need to be making. So when we're unpacking grammar, we're really teaching our students how to find the inferential comprehension in the text. We immediately know that the giant's tense does not follow standard conventions and he often gets his words muddled. But some students will need this pointed out to them. And Roald Dahl hasn't done this because he doesn't know what he's doing, he's done this to create an effect. So if you were teaching the concept of characterisation in Stage 2, this shows you how grammar is imperative to that because you can start to get a real understanding of how Roald Dahl's created the characters and the difference between them just by the grammar that they use when they speak. What Roald Dahl does nicely is to contrast the BFG's speech with Sophie's. And if we have a look on the next page - there's a transcript from it - and you can start to see - 'be helping', 'sometimes is', 'there never was any schools'. So you can start to see the patterns there. And it's a really nice thing to do to listen to it first and discuss it and get the students to identify and play with it, and then bring the text in and start to analyse it from a text level. What one of the content points in Stage 2 says is that students need to experiment with the punctuation and that's what we want them to do. And this is a really nice example of how the wrong punctuation and the wrong grammar can make a really nice effect, so we're not always getting them to do the right thing. So let's have a look. So they're some of the things the BFG says, and then it is contrasted directly with the narration - The Big Friendly Giant looked suddenly forlorn... looked suddenly so forlorn that Sophie got quite upset." So it's a really nice contrast, a beautiful sentence that the narrator has there as opposed to the BFG, so he's used that contrast which makes the BFG's grammar stand out even more. This is where we're teaching students that it's a tool to create meaning in a subtle and inferential way. Let's have a look. Whoops. Sorry. OK, again, the idea of responding and composing - after reading or listening to this text and upon explicitly teaching the students what Dahl has done with the grammar, to build the character of the overall story, students can then try experimenting with the punctuation to engage the reader and achieve purpose, which is a content point from the syllabus. And if you go further along in 'The BFG', the BFG has these labels and, you know, labels are meant to be short and sweet with not much punctuation at all, but he creates these long, long labels and the way it's written in the text is really interesting to have a look at. So there are lots of perfect opportunities and, as I said before, looking at the grammar that Dahl has used here, has shaped it, has made the meaning. And if you're teaching characterisation, this would be a great text to use to engage the students and get them to understand exactly the things you can do with grammar. Alright, moving right along to Stage 3. So, I just wanted to highlight that this text illustrates beautifully that whole idea of the use and study which is English. OK, so we're getting a little bit deeper, I guess, and we're also looking into media technologies here. So it's all about creating meaning, modality, which you're probably very used to, passive voice, active voice, nominalisation, points of view in a text. Now, today I have decided to look at nominalisation because I think that's quite new for primary teachers. Now, this is the definition from the syllabus and today we're looking at a process of forming noun phrases from clauses. And I try to put this in context of what might happen in a Stage 3 classroom. Let's have a look. You may be getting your students to research something and they may be either listening to an interview or a speech or they may be reading some information off a website such as this. I'm not necessarily saying it's giraffes, I'm just using this as a nice example, OK? Then we get our students to take notes about what they have read or listened to and the notes may look something like that, OK? We need to change that into a way that makes more sense and it joins the ideas together to show how they link. And we also want to turn it into the student's own work, OK, because at the moment they've copied sections or they've just written very simple sentences and at Stage 3 they're better than that. So what we need to do is look at the process of nominalisation for that and it's a really nice tool to use. So we have the first sentence here - The long neck of a giraffe enables it to eat leaves much higher than other animals." So what we've done here is we've taken the first two sentences and shown how they link because they do link. And what we have done is change... we've nominalised this blue section here and the red word is the verb, and you can see how we've joined those two together. We've done it again with the next sentences. So we've changed, "They have a distinctive spotted pattern", "They blend in with the African landscape," to "Their distinctive spotted pattern" - again, a noun group - "helps them" - the verb - "blend in with the African landscape". And down here we've done a bit more of a complex version. And we've said, "The ossicones on the heads of both sexes are used by the males to protect themselves when they fight." Now, what we have achieved here is an overall piece of information that is more academic in level than what we had up the top here. And we've taken the original fact, we've turned it into a noun and put a focus on the other more important or less obvious facts. So we've taken this... We all know that giraffes have long necks. That's not really the most important fact. The most important fact is that it enables them to eat leaves much higher than other animals. The same thing, we know what they look like, but the more important thing is that it helps them blend in with the landscape. And this is a really interesting section here with sentence 3 - the word 'ossicones' is probably unfamiliar, but the use is more important than the name. So it doesn't matter that they're called ossicones, what they're used for is the most important part of this sentence. And by nominalising this phrase, we are pointing out that the use is more important than the name. However, interestingly, if after reading a text such as this, you would be able to ask the students what are some facts they have learnt and they will probably be able to tell you what the ossicone is and does, because it's inferred. So the ossicone is a cone on their head that the males use to protect themselves when they fight. And I guess that goes back to one of the themes of the presentation that grammar is a great tool for inference. If you know how to read a sentence. text-based or visual, then you will be able to get the inference. So the factual features are nominalised and we're leaving the focus to describe the purpose. Now, it's quite new for primary teachers, so if you have any high school colleagues, talk to them about it, and I've got some questions for you at the end of the presentation. And there you go, you can see we've created the noun group and we've increased the complexity because the fact isn't obvious in the third sentence. Alright, very quickly, we'll probably go another five minutes, we're going to look at some visual grammar. And specifically today, just framing because that's all that we have time for. Framing is in the syllabus and if you have a look in the glossary you will see this definition. And we're going to look at how, when we're using rich text in our classroom, we can show framing and also how, again, framing develops inference in students. Pamela Allen - 'I Wish I Had a Pirate Suit'. This is an obvious one and I like to use this one to start with. When the children are in the living room and they're just starting to pretend, they're starting their game, Peter is the main character here - he has a pirate suit - and this is the little brother - we never ever find out what his name is - so you can see it's framed and you can see the armchair and it's in a tight frame so you can tell it's at home. As the book goes along, you can start...the illustrations spread out and when they're in the middle of their really imaginative play, there's no frame at all, it looks like they're really in the sea. So that's what that's trying to express. Here is the reality, here is what the imagination looks like. And then at the end of the book, another tight frame again, he's changed to a lion tamer by the end of the book and he's back in his bed and the life's constraints have come upon him again. So framing can be a really interesting technique that authors use to express what they really want people to understand. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler used framing as well, and this one's a bit more like a movie sort of zoom-in idea. Over here, with the action between the two cats, they're focusing in on the small and lonely life that may be in front of Tabby McTat juxtaposed against this page here representing his whole new world and the page with no framing and no boundaries and he's much happier. So they use framing in Tabby McTat to focus the attention down onto small details. Anthony Browne - now, if you watched 'Rich Talk About Text', you will see Jan referenced this text for intertextuality, but I'm actually going to look at this for framing. Now, this text is framed very interestingly. It's framed as you would expect a picture in an art gallery to be framed. And you can sort of see it's a very normal-looking frame. That's a clue. That's a clue there to show you that this is a link to a real text, 'The Wedding Dance' by Pieter Bruegel, and if you have a look, it's actually up here at the Detroit Institute of Arts - there's a link to the Detroit Institute of Arts. But that's a clue for the reader. This frame is a clue. The boy is actually looking through a window and it's meant to be a window, but the frame here is a clue to what the author's trying to say and what he's trying to reference. Another clue here. This is Anthony Browne again, same book. The boy's looking in the window and look at the frame here, this grey frame. Now, does anyone want to type into the chat box what they think that reminds them of? What do you think when you see that grey frame? Caged. Exactly. Thank you very much. Zoo, yes. Prison, jail, excellent. So, Anthony Browne often tries to express his ideologies in his books, so you can see that the elephant behind the cage is something... And constraint. Excellent. what we're looking at there. And the framing's used very specifically. Each window is framed differently. And it adds meaning. You can see it adds meaning, it adds inference and students needs to be alert to that. Now, the last page in the book isn't framed at all. The boy is no longer bound by fear, the background is yellow and warm, signifying ease and comfort, and he's offering his gaze, making a personal connection with the reader. So you can see sometimes the use of no frame is just as important as the use of a frame. Now, we are pretty much out of time. So, my contact details are here. But I did want to tell you that Jake Henzler, who is currently the Australian Curriculum Officer 7-10 for English, will be running an Adobe Connect, 'What they already know: Grammar from Year 6 into Year 7'. It's actually for high school teachers, but it might be a really nice one to look at if you're a Stage 3 teacher. And I thought I would just put that up. I'm going to go to the final room here, we've got some questions - Would you like some follow-up grammar Adobe sessions?" "In term 3, how many English Adobe sessions would be enough to fill your English PD needs?" Have you accessed or do you plan to access any other of the KLA Adobe sessions?" If you've got any...your most pressing English professional development needs, write them here in the 'your needs' pod. English web links - eNews... I wanted to highlight this one here, 'The language of visual design part 1' - Prue Greene, the 7-12 English Officer, has done a beautiful presentation on the language of visual design and it really looks at picture books and film, it uses the Anthony Browne. It'll probably take off from where we left off today. You can register that via My PL, the link is there. Contact me if you want more information because it's a really nice one. Also, our previous Adobe sessions are now up on the Curriculum Support website, so there's a link there. And the Annotations one isn't up yet, but if you haven't seen it and need the recording, you can download it there. The PowerPoint from today is in the 'documents to download' and the PowerPoint from last week seems to be there too although it looks like there might be an error because it's only 2MB. So thank you very much. This is probably my last Adobe session for the year because I will be going on maternity leave next term. But I will be obviously trying to plan some professional development before I go, so this information that you fill out this afternoon will be really helpful. And if you have any more questions, please remember to give me a call or email and I'll try and help as best I can. Thank you, Tim. That's very kind of you.

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