Monday, December 19, 2016

Addressing Low Proficient Learners – 9

Generating Parodies of Popular Songs (Continued)

As we have discussed in the previous two posts the pre-requisite for generating parodies of popular nursery rhymes and songs at the primary level is to generate them line by line with the help of a few interaction questions.  The modules are meant for children of classes 1 to 4. In the case of low proficient readers graphic reading takes place, which eventually glides over to genuine reading. Here reading alone is not targeted; the focus is on giving holistic (i.e., discourse level) input to learners so that they acquire language non-consciously. The process suggested can be extended to classes 5 to 8 as well if songs suitable to this level of learners are available. Before taking up a song for the higher levels of learners let us see how the same song (i.e., Five little babies ...) can be used in a different way in classes 3 to 8.

Module 5: Generating Parodies – Classes 3 to 8

Brainstorming on the video song
  • Play the video once and interact in the following lines.

          What is the song about?
          Who are the characters?
          What are the actions /events mentioned in the song?

Replacing the characters and Actions (Whole class Activity)

  • Generate a discussion as suggested  in the following lines.

          Shall we generate parodies for this song? What are the possible strategies?

  • Elicit and write the following on the chart.

         Changing the characters
         Changing the events / actions

  • Continue brainstorming.

          The central characters in the song that you listened to are five little babies;
          the event is, babies jumping on the bed.
          Let us change the central characters. What are your suggestions?

  • Elicit names of characters such as the following and write them on the left side of the board.
          Kitten; birdies; puppies; piggies;  parrots; rabbits;  etc.

          Now let us think of different events. What are your suggestions?

  • Elicit events and actions
         Climbing on a tree; flying in the sky; running down the hill; perching on a branch;                       playing with a carrot; etc.

          Now we can put these together to get the first two lines. Try with kitten.

  • Elicit the first line:
          Five little kitten climbing on a tree

          We need three more lines. What shall we do now? What happened to one kitten when it was                  climbing on a tree? What happened after that?

  • Elicit lines like the following:
          One fell down and broke its leg
          Mama called the doctor and the doctor said
          No little kitten climbing on the tree.

Replacing characters and events (Group activity)

  • Assign different characters, events and actions to groups. Let each group produce a parody of the song.
  • Let each group write their parody on a chart and illustrate it.
  • After each presentation elicit suggestions for refinement from the whole class.
  • Give feedback.
Generating parodies (Individual Activity)

  • Let students make their own choice of characters, events and actions and create similar parodies.
  • Tell them they can also think about human beings and events and actions related to them.

Addressing Low Proficient Learners – 8

Generating Parodies of Popular Songs (Continued)

In the previous post we saw how the first stanza of a popular song is generated with the help of theme-pictures.  It may be noticed that there is a basic and qualitative difference between helping children to rote-learn a song through repetition and generating the text of the poem through interaction; the latter does away with the lethargy of memorizing lines and provides more space for the learners to get psychologically as well as emotionally engaged in the classroom process. The added benefit is that it tackles the issue of learners who may be low proficient in the various language skills.

Module 3: Generating the Second Stanza

Once we have generated the first stanza of the poem through a whole class activity we can work out strategies for generating the remaining stanzas in groups as well as by individual learners.  We need a set of pictures for transacting the modules required for this.

Watching the Video

Play back the first two segments of the video. The events shown in the second segment are:

          Four little babies jumping on the bed
          The second boy falling down and bumping his head
          Papa calling the doctor
          The doctor responding to the call (‘No more babies jumping on the bed’)

Brushing up

  • Interact with the students based on these pictures. Here follows a cluster of questions that will be useful for interaction.

You have watched the video.  Can someone sing the first four lines of the song?
How many babies were jumping on the bed?
What happened to one of the babies?
What did mother do?
What did the doctor say?

Theme-based Interaction

  • Display Pictures 1 to 4 mounted on a chart,

Picture 1

 Picture 2  
Picture 3

 Picture 4

  • Initiate interaction based on the four pictures as suggested below:

          Look at the first picture. How many little babies are there on the bed?
          What are the babies doing?
          What happened then?
          Who called the doctor?
          What did the doctor say?

          Now can somebody try to sing four lines based on these pictures?
  • Ask questions one after the other, elicit and write the following on the board.
          Four little babies
          They were jumping on the bed.
          One baby fell down and bumped his head.
          Papa called the doctor.
          The doctor said, ‘No more babies jumping on the bed.’

          Can someone try singing the lines? 
          What will be the first and second  lines? 
          What will be the third and fourth lines?
  • Elicit line by line write on the chart.
  • Ask students to read the lines from the chart.
  • Let them copy the lines into their notebook.

 Module 4: Generating the Remaining Stanzas

Initial interaction
          Shall we sing the first and second stanzas of the song?

  • Allow two or three students at random to sing the first two stanzas.

Brainstorming on the Video song

We are going to watch the whole video song now. Notice what changes are made in each stanza.
You have watched the video. How many little babies were there in the beginning?
What were they doing?
One baby fell down. How many little babies were there after that?
How many fell down?
What did the doctor say at the end?
  • If necessary play the last segment of the video once again.
  • Let students sit in small groups and sing the whole song orally.

Writing the Lines
  • Let them write down the text of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th stanzas individually.
  • Allow a few students to present what they have written.
  •  Elicit feedback on the presentations. A few questions are suggested  here.

          Do the four lines follow the same pattern?
          Are there any missing or excess words?
          Are all the word forms correct?
          Are there errors related to spelling, punctuation and capitalization?

Drawing Illustrations

Children may be encouraged to draw their own illustrations for the whole song.

(To be continued)

(Dr KN Anandan)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Addressing Low Proficient Learners – 7

1. Generating Parodies of Popular Songs 

Teachers who browse the internet in search of TLM may be familiar with the awesome repertoire of video songs that can usher small children to the world of English language. Schools and homes do use them but in most cases they are used as stuff suitable for children to memorize and sing, or sometimes to perform action songs. Any effort taken to entertain and engage children is appreciable. Nevertheless, it is worth exploring how these materials can be used in the constructivist classroom for facilitating language acquisition.
I would like to flesh out the point I am trying to make with the help of the popular video song, ‘Five little babies …’ ( 

The first stanza of this song is as follows:
Five little babies jumping on the bed
One fell down and bumped his head.
Mama called the doctor and doctor said
No more babies jumping on the bed.

The stanzas that follow have the same pattern of lines but in each the word ‘five’ is replaced with other numerals in the descending order starting from ‘five’ and ending with ‘one’and on two occasions the word 'Mama' is replaced with 'Papa.' The last line of the last stanza also is different. The song has much potential to be used in the language class for different levels of learners in multiple ways and for multiple purposes. Let us begin with a sequence of modules meant for introducing the first stanza of the song and generating the remaining stanzas in stages classes 1 to 4. 

Module 1: Introducing the Song

In a conventional manner we can allow the learners to watch the video and sing the song along with the audio track. By virtue of repetitions we can make them sing the song independently as well. However, such memory dependent activities will be at variance with the norms of the paradigm we are working in. Instead, we will take recourse to a different set of protocols that can facilitate the language sense of the learners; these will also help them to sing the song meaningfully and read the transcript of the song. There are four lines in the first stanza and each of these is to be elicited from the children through interaction. For doing this we need a set of pictures that capture the events included in the song.

Picture interaction

  • ·         Display Picture 1 as mounted on a chart at the top leaving enough space for writing at the bottom.
  • ·         Initiate interaction as suggested in the following lines:

Picture 1

What do you see in the picture?

  • Elicit and write the following words on the chart.

five babies
five little babies
five little babies on the bed                      
What are the five little babies doing?

  • ·         Elicit a few responses at random
  • ·         Now play back the first part of the video ending with the last line of the stanza. Continue interaction.

What are the babies doing?
  • ·         Elicit and write the following.

Jumping on the bed
Five little babies jumping on the bed
  • ·         Display picture 2 and continue interaction.

Picture 2

What happened to one baby?
Fell down
One fell down
What happened then?
  • ·         Elicit and write the following:

Bumped his head
One fell down and bumped his head
One fell down and bumped his head

  • ·         Display Picture 3.

Picture 3

  • ·         Continue interaction

Who do you see in Picture 3?
What do you see in Mama’s hand?
What is Mama doing?
Who is she calling?
One of the babies fell down. What did the mother do?

  • ·         Elicit and write the following on the chart.

Mama and the baby
Mobile phone
Mama called the doctor.
  • ·         Display Picture 4 and continue interaction.

Picture 4

Who do you see in the picture?
What is the doctor doing?
Who is he talking to?
  •  Elicit and write the following:     

The doctor is talking over the phone.
He is talking to Mama.
  • Continue interaction.

Mama called the doctor. What did the doctor say?
  • ·         Elicit and write the following:

          Mama called the doctor
          And the doctor said
          ‘No more babies jumping on the bed.’

Module 2: Singing and Reading

  •  Play back the first part of the video once again.
  •  Let children sing along with the video.
  •  Display chart containing Chart 1.
  •  Ask small groups to come forward and read the words, phrases and sentences written in the chart.
  • Later they can copy the four lines in their notebook.

(To be continued)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Addressing Low Proficient learners - 6

Part 3

We have been discussing how cartoon films can be fruitfully used to facilitate the language proficiency of learners at various levels of learning.We have already discussed the whole class activity followed by the group activity leading to the production of the first and the second parts of the story. Now we will move on to the next stage of classroom transaction, namely, completing the the story individually. The pictures and the teacher's version of the story are given below:

The Shelter

The ostrich reached near a tree.
‘No stone will fall on me now,’ said the ostrich.


Just then a huge stone ball fell near him.
The ostrich jumped up in fear.

Uphill Run

He reached at the bottom of a hill.
‘I will run up the hill,’ said the ostrich.

The Rolling Stone

Suddenly a stone ball came rolling down the hill.
The frightened ostrich jumped up.

The U-turn

The ostrich took a U- turn in the air.

 The Race

The ostrich ran as fast as he could down the hill.
The huge stone ball came rolling down after him.

A Heap of Stones

The ostrich reached near a heap of stones.
He turned his head.

The Stone Trap

A heavy stone ball hit and rolled over him
The heavy stones rolled around and trapped him.
Poor ostrich! He could not do anything.

The Rooster

The rooster came flying to the heap of stones.
He sat on one of the stones and called the elephant.

The Elephant

The elephant came near. 
He lifted the ostrich with his trunk.

The Swing

And he started swinging the ostrich.
‘Please, don’t throw me away,’ said the ostrich.

A Cruel Game

The elephant threw the ostrich like a stone ball using all his force.
The ostrich crash landed on the ground with his head down.
The elephant was playing a game.
What a cruel game!

(To be continued)

Dr KN Anandan

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Addressing Low Proficient Learners - 5

The transaction process suggested in my previous post leads to the production of a narrative based on the sequence of pictures that depict the major events in the story. The activity is carried out involving the whole class ensuring inputs on the craft of constructing narratives with optimal features. Now we have to enrich these inputs by allowing students to work in small  groups and produce the next part of the story. The set of sequenced pictures and the teacher's version of the story are given below:

Part 2

The Hole

There was a hole on the ground.
The ostrich ran past the hole.


The ostrich came back to the hole.

The Ostrich’s Idea

‘I can save myself,’ said the ostrich.
And then he put his head into the hole.

The Scary Eyes

He saw a pair of eyes staring at him.
It was a pair of scary eyes.


The ostrich got scared again.
‘I must escape from here.’

The Snake

There was a snake inside the hole.
It put its head and neck outside the hole.

The Stone Again

But the snake could not come out from the hole.
A big stone fell down and covered the hole.

Where is the Ostrich?

The snake came out through another hole.
He looked for the ostrich.

The Chaser

He turned his head and saw the ostrich running away.
‘I will catch him.’ The snake put his tongue out and hissed. 

All the pictures in the second set are not given to the students; only three of them are displayed before the whole class. The remaining pictures are displayed at a later stage. Please go back to post No. 3 in the series once again to see the protocols followed for carrying out the group activity.

(To be continued.)

Dr KN Anandan

Addressing Low Proficient Learners - 4

1.       A Day Begins  

One day morning
The sun was rising up in the sky.
2.       Grains on the ground 

The ostrich was walking on the ground.
There were food grains lying on the ground.
He started pecking them.
3.       A  Big Sound

He heard something heavy falling down.
He was so scared.
4.       What is that?

He turned his head.
‘What is that?’ He wondered.
5.       A Big Round Stone

He saw a big round stone lying on the ground.
‘Where did it fall from?’ he wondered.
6.       The Confusion

Is it a piece of the sky?
Or is somebody playing with big stone balls?
7.       Another Stone

‘ Thud!’
Another big stone ball came down.
‘Oops! That was close.’
8.       Thank God

             ‘Thank God it didn’t fall on me.’
9.       The Flying Stone

At that time another stone ball was flying toward the ostrich.
10.   Stones from the Sky

The third stone also fell near the ostrich.
‘I must escape from here,’ thought the ostrich.
11.   The Fast Runner

The ostrich started running.
More stones came down.

He ran faster and faster. 

As can be seen above, there were altogether 11 pictures that were selected for the whole class activity. However, only three of them were used for interaction to generate the first part of the story: Grains on the ground, A big round stone, The flying stone and The fast runner. The other pictures were left out from the set in the beginning and were used at a later stage (Please see my previous post). The maximum number of sentences related to each frame was rstricted to three so that the learners would find themselves in a comfortable zone. All the four skills were addressed in an integrated manner. Most importantly, the activity is in conformity with the parameters of Discourse Oriented Pedagogy as the craft of writing a narrative is inbuilt in the process. 

(To be continued)
Dr KN Anandan

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Addressing Low Proficient Learners – 3

There are several ‘silent’ cartoons that can be used to facilitate proficiency development in language. The audio tracks of GAZOON series for example, contain only music and other sound effects but not any language.  Each episode is presented in average time duration of 3 minutes. I have found them useful for all levels of learners. Presently, I will share with my readers how the activities can be carried out.

Developing narratives based on an episode in GAZOON

1. Preparing TLM

·         Identify the dramatic moments in the cartoon film and grab stills of these to capture the whole story (we can do this using the “take snapshot” option given of ”video” given  in the top bar of the VLC media player.  It is better to go for 30 to 40 such snapshots; I got 40 snapshots from the video segment). Get printouts of all these pictures on A-4 sheets.
·         Develop the piece of narrative containing three to four sentences for each snap shop so that you get a long narrative at the end. This is to be used as a reading material later.
·         Select a set of 9 pictures from the whole set; these should capture the main events in the story. Number the pictures sequentially.
·         Divide this set of pictures into 3 sets again each containing 3 pictures. The first set is for the whole class activity; the next set may be set aside for the groups to work with and the remaining set of pictures may be used for the learners to work with individually.  

2. Process of Transaction: Whole Class Activity

  • Screen the video episode so that the learners know what the story is and how it progresses.
  • Elicit names of the characters and the place where the story is shown to have taken place (What is the name of the cartoon video? Who are the characters? Where is the story taking place?); write these on the chart.
  • Display the first picture (not the whole set) before the whole class and elicit three or four sentences related to the actions depicted in it (What do you see in the picture? Who do you see? What is he doing? ).  Write the relevant sentences after building up whole class consensus on each.
  • Elicit a caption for the picture and write the number of the picture and the caption above the sentences that have already been written. Ask a few students (at random) to read all the sentences written on the chart.
  • In this manner complete the second and third pictures in the first set.
  • Display the chart containing your version of the first part of the story. Include the left out snapshots and texts pertaining to this part of the story; you have not used them for the whole class activity suggested above.
  • Ask small groups of students to read the whole of the narrative by taking turns. Ensure that all are engaged. You too have to read the text at the end with proper voice modulation.
 Group Activity

  • Display the next set containing 3 sequenced pictures before the whole class.
  • Let groups collaborate and write the story related to the second set of pictures. Give specific instructions to ensure that every member contributes at least one idea to the group. The text of the story is to be written on a chart for presentation. A copy of the same should be there in the notebooks of all members of the group.
  • Ask the groups to present their versions of the story pertaining to the second set of pictures. Make sure that each member is presenting the story related to the picture he has worked on.
  • Edit the work done by the groups through negotiation.
  • Display 2 or 3 pictures that were not given to the groups and elicit the groups to narrative the story depicted in these pictures. This will be helpful to engage those students who have fairly good language proficiency.
  • Display the full text of your version of the story along with the other left out pictures related to the second set.
  • Ask small groups to take turns and read the full text of the second part if the story.
Individual Work

  • Display the three sequenced pictures in the last set before the whole class.
  • Let the learners write the story related to this set of pictures individually. At this point we can encourage individual learners to take up some of the left out pictures for developing the inclusions in the narrative.
  • Let them sit in small groups and refine the individual work they have done with the help of their peers. There is no need to go for a single group product.
  • Ask a few of them to present the story at random.
  • Display a few more pictures belonging to the last part of the story for those learners who are willing to orally present inclusions in the story.
  • Display the full text of your version of the last part of the story along with all the left out snapshots.
  • Ask small groups to take turns and read the full text aloud.

The strategy suggested here can be applied to any of the episodes in the GAZOON series or to any other cartoon film for that matter. I know teachers have to spend some time for preparing TLM required for carrying out the kind of activities suggested here. But the efforts are worth taking.

The whole set of pictures and the narratives I had developed on them will be shared with my readers in my next post.

Dr KN Anandan