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Annette Hendley's design narrative: Practice Session - Using a Schema to Analyse a Text for Language and Structure.

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Annette Hendley
25 March 2018



Practice Session - Using a Schema to Analyse a Text for Structure and Language. 


I tutor individual students with special needs.



Many of the students have specific learning needs such as dyslexia, autism or/ and physical disabilities.  Some of the students are private and the others are at a local grammar school. The private students are tutored in my study at home and the students at the school in the Learning Support Suite. The students for this task are all GCSE students in Year 10 and 11. In one of the sessions a deaf student is paired with an autistic student. The reasoning behind this is to provide the deaf student with more opportunities to work collaboratively with peers in a quieter environment. The autistic student benefits as he has to make eye contact and speak clearly. 

For the  E854 EMA, I analysed student's answers to a question based on a unknown text. The question asked them to discuss how the author use language and structure to create atmosphere.  My findings revealed that while they understood what atmosphere meant, they had difficulty relating it to the author's use of langauge and structure. They know the PEE (point, evidence, evaluation/ explain) structure they get taught in class, but didn't seem to know how to use it. Some summarised the text while others got fixated on points that didn't relate to the question. 


My goal was to find a structure they could follow each time they need to analyse a question for language and structure. I didn't want to create just one structure but rather wanted them to experiment with a few options to find a path best suited to each student.


I found an unknown text and created three different worksheets with three different questions related to language and structure. 

They had to write two paragraphs, each with a topic sentence (point), evidence and then an analysis of the point and the evidence. The analysis allows them to zoom in on a specific word, phrase, reader experience or author's intention. 

For the first worksheet I provided them with the topic sentence and they had to find the evidence supporting the point and the analysis.

The second worksheet provided the evidence and they had to formulate a point and provide the analysis.

The third worksheet provided the analysis and they had to make the point and find the evidence.

They could also provide a different point, evidence or analysis, if they believed they found something better than the ones I presented them with.

I worked through the text with them and encouraged them to keep the question in mind and annotate the text for possible points and evidence. They could then compare this with the evidence and points I provided. 

The first worksheet they did had the points provided. Each point I made referred to a specific literary device (e.g. contrast, descriptive adjectives, personification, pathetic fallacy). I hoped that they would pick this up without me specifically reminded them that they would score better marks in an exam answer if they can connect the points they make to a literary device.

Problem One: With worksheet two they had to provide the point for the evidence and they didn't pick up the clue to refer to literary devices in their answers. I tried to overcome this by asking many how, what, why questions when we looked at the answers. Some students managed to infer from the questions that they need to look for evidence that can be linked to a literary device. Others didn't and I had to make it explicit. Luckily all the students who had to be told had a 'wow' moment as literary devices are well known to them. 

Problem Two: I wanted the deaf student and the autistic student to work together on the analysis as it would have provided them with the opportunity to practise their communication. This didn't work. The autistic student works much faster than the deaf student and ended up providing all the answers before the deaf student has even taught of an answer. I had to rethink and decided it would be better if they work separately and then discuss their answers once they are both finished. While the autistic student had to wait for the deaf student to finish his answer I allowed him to work on his Art drawings.  


All the students chose to structure their paragraphs around specific evidence. We are busy with a follow up activity where they have to use the chosen strategy and it proves to be effective as their answers are more targeted to the question and while analysis is still difficult for some there are far fewer summaries and irrelevant content. 


I am working on a visual representation of all the information they need to answer this type of question. The idea is that they will use that until answering in that specific way becomes a habit.  The deaf student is still having a hard time with connecting the literary devices to the topic sentences and will need more individual time. I am not convinced he is completely comfortable with the process he chose. Individual time with him will reveal the problems in time. As he is only in Year 10 there is still time to find a different way if this one doesn't work.


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