2—How am I similar to and different from my classmates?
Learning about our languages and our lives
Preparing an oral presentation about language backgrounds: Homework
Ask students to find out about their own language background from family members and to prepare a short talk of no more than two minutes for the class. Explain the oral presentation planning worksheet: ‘Planning a talk: About my language background’ (.pdf 1.2 MB) which they can print and use to plan their talk.
Not all categories on the worksheet will necessarily suit the needs and understandings of all students — point out that they can vary the content of their presentation from that suggested on the plan. Discuss which kinds of information they might try to find out from their families. Have students take the planning sheet home and ask them to return it by a specified date in order for it to be used in class.
Preparing an oral presentation about language backgrounds: Class work
Provide in-class time for students to work on the content of their oral presentations and to rehearse them. Students will potentially have very different levels of awareness of the languages in their family heritage, and preparing the oral presentation should be actively supported by teachers, such as helping students to locate a country of family origin on a map, or to find out some facts about relevant languages.
For students whose ancestral languages have been lost or denied them, such as some Australian Aboriginal children, the loss of language can itself be a topic of discussion, although teachers should exercise care and sensitivity regarding students’ capacity and willingness to talk about a topic which may be associated with hurt, sadness and/or outrage. Local Aboriginal groups are generally available to provide advice and may welcome an invitation to talk with the class about Aboriginal language maintenance/reclamation.
Delivery of oral presentations
Students deliver their oral presentations to the class. During the presentations, the other three classmates from each group of four (previous activity) assess the speaker’s talk and provide feedback on oral presentation skills and content using an assessment rubric provided.
In class discussion, reflect upon the similarities and differences in language backgrounds of class members, and on the geographic origins of these. Indicate on a world map the countries/ regions of origin of the languages spoken by students in the class. A blank outline map which can be written upon would be ideal for this purpose.
How are my classmates similar and different? — surveys and graphs
Graphing aspects of students’ lives
Continue to explore similarities and differences between class members by making and displaying a number of graphs on the following suggested topics (students may of course suggest others):
- favourite school lunch
- favourite sports
- usual breakfast food
- means of transport to get to school
- time it takes to get to school
- how many have a toilet in their home?
- how many have clean water to drink?
- how many have a computer at home?
- how many have an internet connection at home?
Students can work in pairs to complete their graphs. They will need to write specific questions to gather appropriate, meaningful data for the graphs. For example, in finding out about ‘hobbies’, students might specifically ask classmates: ‘What are your three favourite hobbies?’, so that the results are not skewed by some students suggesting more hobbies than other students.
Each pair of students might create a small survey for their topic, and distribute these to all classmates for completion. Students can then compile the results using tally marks and create column graphs (either by hand or using spreadsheet software) based on these results.
Interpreting graphs and generalising about similarity and difference within the class
Students view and discuss the completed graphs in pairs while walking around the classroom observing each other’s work. Each pair should write ‘Two things I learned from the graphs about our class are: ...’ and ‘Two questions I have about the graphs are: ...’. These comments could be typed on computer and then displayed for class discussion (such as on the interactive whiteboard).
Hold a class discussion in which students’ graphs are discussed, using the comments and questions written by the class as a basis. Generate some generalisations about the students in the class and display these in the classroom beside the relevant graphs, for example: ‘We all celebrate birthdays and some families celebrate different religious festivals’; ‘We all have something to eat at lunchtime usually, although only about half of the class likes sandwiches’; ‘We all have clean water to drink.’
‘About me’ — factual writing task
Have students complete the factual writing task ‘About me’. The teacher may choose to model the writing for some parts of this task first (perhaps use a less able student as the subject of the model text so that the student can later use the model text to guide his/her independent writing). Students then write an independent factual description about themselves.
Students may recognise some similarities and differences, by reading one another’s work, and the task also introduces local geographical knowledge. The writing task is particularly well-suited to being shared with one or more online sister class/es or with email pen pals, who might write similar factual descriptions in return.
Teachers can point out that the text is mainly a factual description, but that it has a ‘recount’ section in the middle where students will write about a typical school day. Explain that this is a different kind of recount from one written about a specific event in the past.
In this task, because they are writing about what they usually do, students will be using the ‘timeless’ present tense which tells about how things usually are (for example ‘Koalas eat eucalyptus leaves’; ‘I do my music practice and then I play’) rather than past tense, which tells about something that happened but is not still happening (for example ‘Yesterday I went to my friend’s house and we played soccer’). If possible, demonstrate this contrast using excerpts from a recently written recount set in the past. Note that the writing task scaffolds for students the selection of correct tense by providing sentence starters.
Emphasise the importance of neat, usually horizontal writing on maps, and model for students how they should label the world map at the end of the factual writing task with neat handwriting, a title and a north point.
Note that students are not expected to articulate the difference between simple/’timeless’ present tense and simple past tense until Year 6, however the concept is introduced in this lesson and one application of knowledge of tense is modelled and put into practice with guided teacher support.
Guessing game — How well do we know each other?
Read aloud excerpts from various students’ ‘About me’ descriptions and invits the class to guess the author. The completed ‘About me’ texts should be placed in a display folder in the class library for sharing, and they will be needed again in Sequence 4.
Invite the students to reflect on their learning about each other from the oral presentations, graphs and ‘About me’ writing. Discuss with the class: what are some of our similarities and differences? Are the differences important, and why / why not? Why are there differences? (for example, language/cultural backgrounds, different countries of origin, personal preferences).
If the factual writing has been shared with an online sister class, discuss the similarities and differences between classes. Begin to connect these with geographic similarities / differences where appropriate. For example, after school activities, community facilities or transport to school might be different in rural verus urban areas and in different countries.