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Lisa B's comparison of 4Ts and ISiS representations

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Lisa Brennan
28 March 2014

Healthy Eating as a 4Ts model

This representation is very familiar to me, as it closely resembles the  lesson plan format which we teach new trainee EFL teachers to use, usually comprising 1) Stage aims 2) Stage activities 3) Interaction patterns and 4) Timing.

Readability: I find this a very readable representation, possibly due to my previous experience with it. It provides a clear overview of  how the lesson is to progress, the activities to take place at each stage, how the students are to be grouped, and how long each stage should take.

Expressiveness: I think to a certain extent expressiveness has to balance with readability.  The ability to describe a lot in great detail would possibly increase the expressiveness, but would also likely decrease the readability. I do think that this representation is quite expressive though – there is room to add ‘swim lanes’ or columns as necessary (I have often added a column for materials/technology needed, for example).

Utility: Again, I find this a very useful representation.  It is possible (from my own experience!) to pick up such a lesson plan, and to teach directly from it, with almost no other preparation.  It has a clear layout, and is easy to refer to quickly on a stage by stage basis.


Healthy Eating as an ISiS model

I can see certain potential in this representation, but my initial reaction is not very favourable.

Readability: Logical sequencing, but not at all easy to see what the teacher is supposed to do at each stage, or how the students are to interact. The various different symbols make it rather difficult to identify what kind of information is being given.  I have a much harder time visualising how the lesson would proceed from this representation.

Expressiveness: There is a little more scope for expressiveness here, as there is the ability to use pictorial representation to make activities more visually explicit. I liked the final figure with the example of the ‘collect data’ activity.  I do like that the stages are described from the point of view of the students and what they will do (but again, it’s easy to add that column to a representation of the 4Ts type).

Utility: It appears to be quite a complicated system to use, and I wonder with such systems, whether the teachers’ energies end up more concentrated on how to use the design technology well, than to actually plan a functional and effective lesson.  I’m also not sure how useful it would be in transferring pedagogical pratice and experience, as I imagine there is quite a learning curve to just interpreting the representation.



1)   Are they adequate for expressing your design?

The 4Ts model would meet most, though not all of my needs for expressing my design, as discussed in the previous activity. It would certainly be adequate for expressing the aims and stages of the input sessions, and for use to transfer my design to other trainers if needed.

The ISiS model would not be particularly suited to expressing my design, especially since there seems to be no facility to link the stages to stage and/or lesson aims, which I find particularly useful in both the planning and delivery stages.

2)   What would be the benefits of using these representations for your design? Please explain your views.

Benefits of the 4Ts model:

-       Easy to read

-       Sharable and would easily enable other trainers to teach from

-       Ability to see all aspects of each stage at a glance

Benefits of the ISis model:

-       Visual representation of activities and tools

-       More learner-centred

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Anna Calvi
10:54pm 2 April 2014

Hi Lisa,

  I agree with your analysis. I think the 4T model is definitely more readable and definitely more useful for language teachers. What it lacks, though, is the rationale for choosing specific activities and for sequencing in a particular way. 

As I always aim to scaffold learning in order to help students become more autonomous, I think the 4T model could be integrated with the eDesign Template. However  this would be an add on, which would help at  design stage but  would not be needed when implementing the design in class.


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