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Talking with Jess: Looking at how metalanguage assisted explanation writing in the middle years.

21 May

I: Can you tell me what sort of writing it is?

Jess: It's an explanation

...

I: What do you know about an explanation?

Jess: Um, not much. But ... um ... you answer the questions of who, where, what, why and all of them.

26 June

I: Now you'd learnt a lot about explanations by this stage: what did you know about explanations that helped you to write?

Jess: The format of it ... and ... that when you finish a sentence ... like ... you might be talking about how the blades push down in one sentence and ... like, just at the end ... and then you actually talk about it in the next sentence, how it works.

These comments from 12 year old Jess before and after a unit of teaching on writing explanations as a text type reflect the growing understanding about the structural and grammatical features of explanations. Over the course of the term's work, Jess developed metalinguistic knowledge that enabled her to articulate specific features of the explanation genre and contrast it to other genres that she had experienced writing. Not only did her written work show marked development between the 'before' and 'after' efforts, but her ability to express specific metalanguage, and how she had used this to construct texts, increased significantly, suggesting that linguistic knowledge empowered her to write successfully within the target genre. The explicit instruction used in Jess' classroom reflected a pedagogy that aims to give all students access to powerful discourses through a repertoire of linguistic devices and practices (Cope & Kalantzis, 1993; Luke, 1997).

Context for the study

The knowledge and skills that Jess has been taught explicitly reflect a teaching pedagogy that is unashamedly interventionist and targeted towards developing specific knowledge about language, one which Christie identifies as a feature of the last 15 years of teaching history (Christie, 1999, p. 86), replacing practices of Personal Growth (e.g. Dixon, 1970; Murray, 1968), Creative Writing (e.g. Saunders, 1968; Schoenheimer & Winch, 1974), and Process Writing (Graves, 1981; Turbill, 1983). These earlier practices tended to value the experience of writing rather than gaining specific knowledge about language. Instead, Jess' teacher has adopted a pedagogy that suggests that students need to acquire specialised knowledge about the nature of texts and how these are used to represent knowledge (Unsworth, 2002, p. 62). Indeed, the English Key Learning Area of Victoria's current Curriculum Standard Frameworks (CSFII) (Board of Studies, 2000) contains the strand of Linguistic Features and Structure that recognises the need for students to have particular knowledge about language to draw upon. However, although the strand expects students to learn specific knowledge about the language they are using, it provides little direction for the framing of this linguistic knowledge.

Many Australian classrooms purport to be using a 'genre approach' to teaching writing, the approach that sees texts as socially constructed entities with discernible forms and language features and stages (Halliday, 1975, p. 5; Martin et al., 1987, p. 59). Identifying and teaching this staging is one aspect that teachers have embraced, seen in the availability of commercially-produced text frames for students to plan their work (e.g. Derewianka, 1990; WA Ministry of Edn, 1996; Blake, 1998; Wing Jan, 2001).

However, linguistic features go beyond merely staging a text, into the specific word and sentence choices. Grammar from the 'Hallidayian tradition of linguistics' (Christie, 1987, p. 24) or Systemic Functional Grammar (SFL) is a means of analysing and describing language in terms of its function: rather than presenting rules, it seeks to systematise language choices and explore how these are used in various contexts. A number of classroom-based studies have investigated the effects of explicitly teaching students to explore texts and how language is ordered to create meaning (e.g. Sandiford, 1998; Macken-Horarik, 1998; Nicolazzo, 2000; Williams, 2002: Hayes, 2003), and found that students can use sophisticated metalanguage to analyse texts and their composition. This study looks particularly at work within the Middle Years context and the nature of explanation texts.

This emphasis on 'teaching knowledge about language' (Culican et al., 2001, p. 4) is supported by the research into Middle Years and literacy. As a Year 6 student, Jess is part of a cohort of students within the Middle Years, a group whose literacy needs have been of particular interest over the last few years, the subject of research and discussion in Australia (e.g. Luke et al, 2003; DEET, 2002; Culican et al., 2001; Ludwig 2000; Unsworth, 2000) and internationally (e.g. Alvermann (USA) 2001; Moore et al (USA), 1999; Barber (UK) 1999). There has been a growing awareness of the need for students in these years to be apprenticed into literacy practices that allow them--particularly within writing--to apply linguistic skills to a diverse range of situations within highly specialised contexts (Unsworth, 2000, p. 246).

While this study looked at the writing that students produced, it was the talk that students were able to engage in and its link to success in the writing task that was of particular interest. The link between oral language and cognition has been explored by a number of writers (Green, 1988; Tharp & Gallimore, 1988; Wells, 1999), based on the Vygoskian principles of the importance of moving from everyday talk into more complex ways of meaning (Vygotsky, 1986). As Wells (1999, p. 107) puts it:
 Understanding, I would now suggest, is the coherence achieved in
 the act of saying.


Jess' 'acts of saying' through the discussions documented here suggest a growing understanding of writing, its features and purposes.

It was this metalanguage that Jess' teacher used when teaching the class about explanations, and which the students were encouraged to use in their own discussions about their writing. This opportunity to discuss their work used the language to define and regulate her writing assisted Jess to internalise--or 'fossilise' (Tharp & Gallimore 1988, p. 38)--what she had learnt, ideally to be retrieved for future use.

Thus, SFL provided a means by which to talk about the text and how language was structured to support the purposes of the text. However, using some of these SFL terms could be problematic since it used unfamiliar terms for the grammar. To alleviate this, the terms used in the classroom mirrored those of Beverly Derewianka's work (1998) by retaining the term 'verb' instead of the functional term 'process'. Different types of verbs were introduced to enabled exploration of the various functions of verbs. In this way, the students could use some grammatical terms that were already familiar and build upon this knowledge in more elaborate ways.

Methodology

Jess was a member of a Year 6 class involved in a Science unit looking at forces and how energy was used to operate make everyday machines. To support the development of this content, the teachers had decided to teach the text type of explanations so that students could investigate and explain how an everyday machine worked.

The target text was based on the features of an explanation text, as shown in Table 1, in terms of generic structure and grammatical/linguistics features, identified in terms of Systemic Functional Grammar.

In order to diagnose what students already knew about writing in this genre, the first task was largely an unassisted attempt at an explanation. The students were taken outside to fly a kite and then asked to write an explanation text for this activity. To provide some support, the teacher asked the students to brainstorm what might help them write the text, to which they gave some general questions of Who? What? Where? When? Why? Jess indicates that these were drawn largely from their past experience with other text types.

May

I: Where did those questions come from? I've noticed you've written them down the margin here.

Jess: Um ... um ... um ... in narratives and stuff, you use them, too.

I: OK. So that's probably what most people were using: what they knew about narrative?

Jess: Yep

Interviews with a number of students were conducted at the completion of the kite texts. The questions in this interview were designed to discover the resources that were being drawn upon to write the text and to gauge what explicit knowledge about language the student possessed.

At the end of the teaching cycle, when students had completed the science unit and second explanation, students were once again interviewed to discover what was now known about explanations and what metalanguage had been developed over the cycle. Both written texts were also analysed against the features noted in Table 1 to gauge the success of each text.

The teaching cycle

The teaching cycle used in this study drew on the model exemplified by Rothery (1996). This model uses explicit strategies of deconstruction and reconstruction of texts within the teaching cycle, both jointly and independently. The classroom teacher analysed the students' first texts to identify what linguistic features students needed to be taught (e.g. use of third person, cohesion through sentence patterns) and these features became the focus of deconstruction activities around the texts. They were highlighted as students constructed new texts about their learning. The language that teachers and students needed to define these linguistic features--metalanguage--was explicitly taught within the cycle and used in 'conferencing' discussions and text correction.

Why choose Jess?

Jess had been identified by her teacher as one of the poorer writers in the class: her teacher noted that Jess had needed considerable assistance to complete Text 2, particularly to sequence her ideas and make her writing 'flow'. It may be assumed that Jess had taken much direction from her teacher in order to compose a successful text, yet the discernible and considerable growth Jess had made in her writing was matched by the ability to clearly articulate what she had learnt about explanations, revealed through the interviews. In fact, her articulated knowledge was more pronounced than other students who had been identified as stronger writers. Jess mentioned facets of the grammar that had not been mentioned by other students interviewed, and it would seem that she had recycled the language of the instruction to provide prompts to construct her own text successfully. Despite being identified as one of the weaker writers, Jess was able to develop a sophisticated level of metalanguage to aid text production, more so than students in her class. This will be further discussed at the end of the paper.

Written texts

Below are the two texts that Jess wrote as explanations, the first early in May and the second late in June. They have been analysed to show the identifiable schematic structure.

There is a clear difference in the way the two texts have been staged, and the types of linguistic choices that have been made throughout the texts. A comparison between the two texts in terms of grammatical features appears in Table 2.

When comparing Text 2 with the target structures given by Christie et al., there is a fair amount of congruency in all facets identified. Jess has used her teacher's prompts to add in the last stage that gives an evaluative comment to conclude her work.

The change in written work reflects many of the lessons that Jess' teacher ran throughout her writing program. However, it is Jess' responses from the second interview that give the greatest insight into what she has assimilated as writing knowledge over the unit and the degree to which she can explain her linguistic choices.

Interviews

Knowledge of structure

The comments from the beginning of this paper show that Jess has little idea of how to structure an explanation, instead using the questions that she identified as being from narratives.

May

I: What do you know about an explanation?

Jess: Um, not much. But ... um ... you answer the questions of who, where, what, why and all of them.

She struggles to explain the nature of Explanations in the following exchange, differentiating between the imperative mood of procedures and the declarative mood of explanations.

May

I: OK. Now I know you've been doing procedures and reports. Is this any a way like a procedure or a report?

Jess: Umm ... it's a bit more like a report. It's the opposite to a procedure because you're doing ... you're telling about what you've done after you've actually done it.

During the second interview, however, Jess exhibits a clearer idea about the structure of an Explanation.

June

I: Can you just go through the format and then we'll come back to the words.

Jess: 'How the Hole Puncher works' is the title. Then the first line is the definition. Then the first paragraph is telling you what it has in it to make it work ... And the third paragraph tells you how ... it ... how it works. And the last paragraph is ... just tells you something interesting about it.

I: Do you have a choice about what you write in the last paragraph?

Jess: Yep. You could do history, you could do something interesting....

Not only does Jess know the stages involved, but the exchange below shows that she is able to identify the stage that holds the main work of the text, that which contains the sequence, called here the third or middle paragraph. June

I: Now that [the middle paragraph] is the biggest one: why is that?

Jess: Because it tells you how it works and you write how it works a lot more ...

I: If I didn't have that paragraph, would it still be an explanation?

Jess: Um ... no

I: What if I took off the last paragraph: would it still be an explanation?

Jess: Yep.

I: How about if I took of the first paragraph? Would it still be an explanation?

Jess: Yes ... but it wouldn't ... yeah, it would be, but you wouldn't know what it actually is ...

I: So it wouldn't be a good explanation, but it still would be?

Jess: Yep.

I: So am I right in saying that this [third paragraph], this big bit you have to have ...

Jess: Yep.

It is interesting that the concluding stage that tends to appear in school-based texts is recognised by Jess as being ultimately dispensable. Even her previous comments--'You could do history, you could do something interesting ...'--suggests an arbitrariness about this stage and that it is unnecessary to the purposes of the explanation. This stage does not tend to be included in more theoretical studies of explanations (Christie, 1992; Veel, 1997).

What these comments suggest is that Jess is very clear about the nature of explanations and the structural elements that organise the work that explanations do, in stark contrast to her comments in May.

Linguistic features May

I: OK. When you were coming up with the words that actually went in there ... were you thinking specifically about kites when you were doing that?

Jess: Mmmmm, not really, 'cos I don't know them.

I: There were no particular words you picked?

Jess: [shakes head]

Despite leaving a number of opportunities to discuss linguistic choices in the May interview, Jess could provide little insight into her choice of words in the first text, as shown above. Throughout the interview, she could not clearly reflect on how she wrote the text.

By the June interview, Jess was able to articulate knowledge about a number of linguistic features that had been explicitly taught in preparation for explanation writing. Verb types (after Derewianka, 1998) were introduced for the first time during the course of this unit, specifically action verbs (e.g. make, push) and relational verbs (e.g. is, has) since these two types are evident within explanations. Jess comments in the following exchange reflect a growing ability to differentiate these verb types and their particular roles within the text.

June

I: OK. Any other words that you know go in explanations?

Jess: ... Verbs ... relating ... relating verbs and action verbs ... and I think action verbs are in this one [third paragraph] and relating verbs are in these two [first two paragraphs]

I: So action in the how to and relating in the first two? Can you show me them?

Jess: Um....

I: Can you tell me what a verb is?

Jess: A verb is ... a doing word ... so.... it tells you what to do ... it's like instructional sort of ...

I: Let's find the action: they're the easy ones ...

Jess: Um ...'push'... 'position' ... yeah

I: How do you know it's an action verb? What goes through your head to work it out?

Jess: Um ... can you do that ... so can you push ...

Jess indicates that she is developing sophisticated knowledge about language in this exchange. She has correctly placed relational processes or verbs in the first two paragraphs, since these processes build identification and attributive information in these first stages of the explanation. She knows, too, that action processes/verbs build up information about the sequence of action in the larger stages of the explanation.

More importantly, Jess has assimilated a prompt for herself to enable identification of action verbs though the question 'Can you do that?', exemplifying it with the answer 'You can push', thus 'push' is an action verb. The strength of this prompt is that it creates a strategy for her to identify these verb types in other contexts. For students that may be 'poor' writers, being able to use these strategies--and being taught explicitly to use these strategies--provides a layer of independence in the task of recognising and, thus, using linguistic features in their writing.

Whilst developing this knowledge of action verbs, Jess has not able to successfully identify the nature of relational processes/verbs, as displayed in the following exchange.

June

I: How about these relating verbs?

Jess: Um ... I can't really remember what they were ... they're hard

I: They are. But you said they were in the first two paragraphs ...

Jess: Yep. I think ...'consists'

I: Now you said an action is if you can do it, can you do consists?

Jess: No ...

I: So how do you work out a relating verb?

Jess: I don't know ...

I: You just know it is?! It's a really hard question. How about this one: 'A hole punch is a tool that helps ...' what about this part of the sentence 'A hole punch is a tool': which is the relating verb?

Jess: ... 'Tool' ... I think ...

I: 'Tool' is not a thing?

Jess: ... ah ... yeah ... I think ... I don't know ...

Jess correctly finds the verb 'consists' and inadvertently shows that it is not an action verb. However, she does not know what makes this a relating verb, and goes on to confuse herself further by identifying a noun group as a verb. It is interesting to note that in a further study with these same students, Jess was able to go on to successfully differentiate between sensing and saying process/verb types, but was still unable to identify relating verbs. This was the general experience of other students in the study, which would suggest that this particular process type is difficult conceptually for most students at this level.

A linguistic feature Jess identified through the interviews was the use of third person in explanations: she was the only student within the cohort to do so. The following exchange is taken from the discussion in comparing the first text written with the second attempt at the genre.

June

I: How about the words: would you organise some of the sentences differently?

Jess: Well, you're not really meant to write about yourself in it so you wouldn't write 'you'.

I: Why don't you write about 'you'?

Jess: Um ... I don't know!

Again, Jess displays knowledge about the features that she had used to successfully compose the text, but without a clear understanding of why this might be so.

Cohesion

Comparing the two texts she had written, Jess was able to identify a particular cohesive feature of explanations that she had consciously used in composing her second text: the pattern of given/new. This pattern is the organisation of a sentence to begin with information that is known--given--and progress to new information towards the end of the sentence. This new information then becomes given when it is picked up, typically, at the beginning of the following sentences. Jess uses this when she writes:
 the sharp blades cut a round circle in the paper.
 The paper that got pushed out gets captured in the plastic base at
 the bottom of the hole punch.


She has introduced the idea that there is a piece out of the paper, which she goes on to use to orient her next sentence, explaining where this paper goes. Although Jess does not name this as a given/new pattern, she can explain how she goes about it and find an example in her own work, as shown below.

June

I: Now you'd learnt a lot about explanations by this stage: what did you know about explanations that helped you to write?

Jess: The format of it ... and ... that when you finish a sentence ... like ... you might be talking about how the blades push down in one sentence and ... like, just at the end ... and then you actually talk about it in the next sentence, how it works.

I: All right. Do you want to have a look and see if you've done that?

Jess: ... um, I think here ...'the sharp blades cut a round circle in the paper. The paper that got pushed out gets captured in the plastic tray at the bottom ...'

I: So 'the paper' and 'the paper' is linked up here?

Jess: Yeah

I: Is that what happens in explanations is it?

Jess: I think so ...

I: Does it happen in procedures, do you link up your sentences?

Jess: Mmm, no ...

This exchange took place early in the second interview, being one of the first items that Jess mentioned in relation to her writing, and in response to an open-ended question: What do you know about explanations that helped you to write? This suggests that this organising feature was one of the main features of her understanding of explanations and, indeed, is the typical cohesive device used in this type of text. Many of the students in the group also identified this pattern in their writing, which may explain why so many of the texts across the group were successful as explanations, since this knowledge appeared to help considerably to organise the sentences and, thus, their thinking within the explanation text.

Reflections on progress

When asked to look back on her first attempt at writing Explanations, Jess displayed some dismay at her initial text, identifying a number of places for improvement, both at a structural and linguistic level.

June

I: Looking at that [kite text] now, how do you think your kite text is as an explanation?

Jess: Um ... not quite right.

I: What's not quite right?

Jess: Most of it! 'Cos I didn't know anything about it, an explanation ... and I didn't know the format of it or anything.

I: So what wouldn't you use in your kite text? What would you cut out?

Jess: Where and when, feelings, and why

I: You wouldn't have 'why'?

Jess: I don't think so. Sometimes you might.

I: So would you move things ... can you show me what you'd keep or throw out?

Jess: The how, I'd maybe keep [the first paragraph] but keep it shorter ...

I: Are you happier with what you've learnt?

Jess: Yep, yep.

She had a clearer idea of the content to include and to leave out: her decision to omit 'feelings' indicates that she is building a sense of factual texts which, together with her earlier comments about third person, suggest a growing understanding of the de-personalised nature of these texts. The discussion of the inclusion of 'why' suggests that while Jess has been able to successfully write a sequential explanation, she has not been exposed to the more elaborate causal explanations (Veel, 1997, p. 172) which would include more discussion of the causes of the phenomenon being explained.

The most encouraging aspect of the discussion with Jess was her pleasure and surprise at how much she had developed in terms of her writing ability. Whilst not a student taken to dramatic displays of emotion and a self-confessed avoider of writing, she was quite contemptuous of her first piece and, in contrast, unashamedly impressed with her second piece when the two were compared. This would suggest that students do like to succeed at writing, to have their attempts resemble what they know is good writing and to be given the means by which to do this through explicit, targeted instruction. Jess was provided with the information and skills that assisted her to succeed, and her discussion suggests that she has retained knowledge about the way language is structured, which will assist her to build on this through experience with other texts.

The question still remains as to why Jess developed such a strong use of the metalanguage while her peers, who began as stronger writers producing successful texts, at times failed to use much of the language taught. The explanation for this may lie in the fact that whilst some of her peers had become aware of the features of explanations--through prior exposure or interest--Jess initially had few linguistic resources to draw upon. For her, the explicit instruction provided specific cues about writing she did not already possess: by drawing on these resources, she was able to create a text that surprised herself as much as her teacher. The stronger writers at the outset--although they increased their ability to use metalinguistic knowledge--seemed to have less consciousness of what they had developed, as they had not 'struggled' with the writing task, did not have a need to draw on the prompts provided. Students in Jess' situation gained more from using the prompts and understandings about language developed over the course of the unit because they needed it to succeed.

Implications

This study suggests that teachers have a pivotal role in assisting students to write successfully, not only in the models of written language that they provide, but in the language that they use to make these features explicit to students, developing a 'visible pedagogy' (Macken-Horarik, 1981). It exemplifies what Vygotsky explored in his notions of the importance of adult language in 'apprenticeship' of the young into uses of language (1978). It also suggests that teachers can assist their students by increasing their own knowledge about the linguistic demands of texts--and having a language for talking about language--in order to effectively teach students about the nature of the language, how it can be manipulated and spoken about (Christie, 1983, p. 81; Green, 1988, p. 175).

This study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests that explicit instruction is particularly powerful for students who struggle to write, those that we often find discouraged in classrooms. It again points to the impact that the linguistically-aware teacher can have on students such as Jess: that students can succeed with the explicit and purposeful knowledge that teachers provide.

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Marie Quinn

UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
Table 1. Features of an explanation After Christie et al. (1992)

Structural features Transitivity Theme choices

 Grammatical elements That which appears in
 that build the the first position
 content or topic of the clause and
 denotes the main
 concern of the
 clause.

* Title: How or Why * Identifying * Temporal
* Identification of processes/verbs conjunctions/
 phenomenon within the circumstances of time
* Explanation sequence Identification stage in Theme position
 * Action processes/ * Dependent clauses
 verbs throughout the indicating time and
 Explanation Sequence manner in Theme
 stage position
 * Use of passive * Cohesion created
 voice through positioning
 * Absence of human new information in
 participants Rheme, becoming new
 * Generalised information in
 participants subsequent Theme
 * Technical/field position.
 specific vocabulary
 within nominal groups
 * Circumstances and
 conjunctions of
 cause/effect
 * Use of timeless
 present tense
 throughout

Figure 1. Explanation text, May

Written texts

Below are the two texts that Jess wrote as explanations, the first
early in May and the second late in June. They have been analysed
to show the identifiable schematic structure.

TEXT 1

STAGE TEXT

TITLE How a kite flies!

DESCRIPTION 01 A kite is a toy which is colourful and can be
 different shapes and sizes.
 02 It has some material that has a frame around it,
 with a string hanging off it
 03 so you can hold it
 04 and make it fly.

SUGGESTIONS 05 You normally fly a kite on a day when there is
 wind
 06 because it helps it move quicker and higher.
 07 You can fly a kite anywhere
 08 but it is always fun at the beach.

EVALUATION I 09 Flying a kite is a fun thing to do
 10 when you can't think of something else to do.

SEQUENCE OF 11 You normally need about two people
EVENTS/ACTION 12 to help you fly the kite.
 12 It flies
 14 by one person holds the kite above their head.
 15 The person who is going to fly the kite holds
 the end of the string.
 16 The person who is flying the kite then runs
 off with it
 17 running around.

EVALUATION II 18 It is a good flying a kite.
 19 You can make it go in any direction.
 20 You have most fun at the beach.

Figure 2. Explanation text, June

TEXT 2

STAGE TEXT

TITLE How a hole puncher works

IDENTIFICATION 01 A hole punch is a tool that helps to put hole in
OF PHENOMENON paper.
 02 A hole punch consists of a metal frame, a plastic
 base to keep the paper in, springs, a metal
 cylinder to put the hole through the paper and
 a series of metal staples.

SEQUENCE OF 03 When the paper is positioned on the flat surface
EVENTS/ACTION under the two sharp blades of the hole punch
 04 and force is pushed down on the metal handle,
 05 the sharp blades cut a round circle in the paper.
 06 The paper that got pushed out gets captured in
 the plastic base at the bottom of the hole
 punch.
 07 The two holes that got pushed out are the same
 size as the rings in the folder
 08 so you can put pieces of paper in a folder.

CONCLUDING 09 This office appliance is a quick and easy way to
STATEMENT- make small holes.
EVALUATIVE

Table 2. A grammatical comparison of Jess' two Explanation texts

 Text 1 Text 2

Structure * Uses structure similar * Uses target structure
 to report; uses two
 evaluation stages

 * Explanation sequence
 present

Transitivity * Uses Attributive * Identifying &
 process initially and possessive processes
 in other places used initially

 * Uses Material processes * Uses Material processes
 throughout, using active throughout, with a number
 voice of passive forms

 * Uses 'you' throughout * Only one instances of
 the text, speaking the use of 'you'; no
 directly to the reader; other forms of human
 also uses 'the person agency in the text
 who ...' in 2 instances:
 human agency noted in
 the text

 * Some use of technical/ * Technical words and
 field specific vocabulary phrases used throughout
 within nominal groups: the text within nominal
 material, frame group: tool, metal frame,
 plastic base, flat
 surface, office appliance

 * Few extended nominal * Extended nominal
 groups to create groups--to including
 precision; some embedded embedded clauses used
 clauses used: the end of throughout the text
 the string, the person create precision: a
 who is going to fly the series of metal staples,
 kite, the person who two sharp blades of the
 flies the kite hole punch, the paper
 [that got punched out]

 * Some circumstances * Most clauses contain
 used, of place (at the circumstances and a
 beach, above their head), number use combinations;
 manner (quicker, higher) all circumstances are of
 and accompaniment (with place: in paper, on the
 it) flat surface/under the
 two sharp blades, on the
 metal handle, in the
 plastic base/at the
 bottom of the hole punch

 * Present tense used * Present tense used
 throughout throughout

 * One cause/effect * No cause/effect
 conjunction used: because conjunctions used

Theme * A number of * Few conjunctions in
 conjunctions in Theme Theme position
 position

 * No dependent clauses in * One dependent clause in
 Theme position Theme position to give
 sequence

 * No use of Given/New * Some use of Given/New
 clause structure clause structure: When
 the paper is positioned
 on the flat surface under
 the two sharp blades of
 the hole punch//the sharp
 blades cut a round circle
 in the paper

 * Topic Theme choices * Mix of Topic Theme
 tend to be "you" and the choices, beginning with
 kite throughout the hole punch, then
 specific components:
 paper, force, sharp
 blades, you (1)
COPYRIGHT 2004 Australian Literacy Educators' Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Quinn, Marie
Publication:Australian Journal of Language and Literacy
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Words:6261
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