For my first journal entry I wanted to share the results of a student recording experiment similar to the one I have used for the EDEL 505 Assignment on Oral Language.
I was intrigued by a few thoughts generated after seeing those recording of students working in a particular school task. I wanted to know how much of the students' oral interaction could actually help them to solve a problem and how they use their oral and body language to achieve this goal.
Therefore, using my classroom I-pad I recorded my students working in a group of four, two boys and two girls. As I teach a grade 2 class, their ages varies between 6 and 7 years old. These students know each other from last year's class and two of them have been together in the same class since kindergarten at the same school.
I was not able to finish the whole transcript, but I will finish that before the end of this course, so I might share it if you would like to see it.
The students were asked to solve a math problem, but as we are in a Spanish Bilingual Program; the math problem, of course is in Spanish. During this experiment the students helped each other throughout the whole task within the language itself, trying to identify the meaning of the words, and also by supporting their peers through the reasoning behind the math problem. It was very interesting to see; and I could totally perceive the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) occurring between the children during most of the process through their interactions and oral exchanges.
This was also a different experiment for me as I was conducting the experiment with "researcher ears” not only as a teacher that wants to know how much they understood the math concept taught or how much vocabulary they have acquired in their second language.
The body language presented in this activity was amazing, as the students tried to help each other showing with their hands the numbers written in Spanish. Also, the oral exchange that automatically happened in both languages showed me " the consciousness and control” discussed by Bruner (1986, p.2). The students would use the same argument twice sometimes, once in Spanish, and then to make sure that their peers understood what they were saying they would say it again in English.
It was a very rich experiment that I would recommend to every teacher as a way to listen more carefully to how your students use their oral and body language to solve tasks and to connect with each other. It can also be a great assessment tool for a specific subject, in my case for two subjects for Math and Spanish.
More language experiments (all research based) yet to come, stay tuned :)
Bruner, J. (1986). The Inspiration of Vygotsky. Actual Minds, Possible worlds. Cambridge: Harvard University Press