Integrating assessment and planning

The TEAL units of work planning templates

The TEAL units of work samples use templates, which can also be used by teachers to plan their own units. They are provided for the following year levels:

The primary years planning templates can be used to plan units of work for a mainstream class with EAL learners. The secondary years template is most likely to be useful for specialist EAL classes, or for EAL teachers planning with a mainstream subject teacher teaching EAL students.

The TEAL planning template (described in Section 3 of this page, below):

  • allows for the planning of English language learning across all learning areas and in all units of work
  • makes explicit the English language teaching component of units, and therefore shows how teachers can build EAL considerations into their mainstream programs
  • assists teachers to cater for the English language learning of their EAL students within a mainstream program.

This discussion shows how the content of subject areas can be employed to ensure that:

  • all students, including in particular EAL learners, are given opportunities to improve their English language skills
  • the learning outcomes of the Victorian Curriculum and the EAL Developmental Continuum can be enhanced by learning across the curriculum.


Planning for EAL learning

To participate fully in mainstream classroom programs, EAL students at all stages require support with learning English, particularly with the English language demands of the mainstream curriculum.
Sociolinguistic profiles, assessment for learning activities and responses from students, for example during tuning-in activities at the beginning of a unit, provide teachers with knowledge about the individual student.

The Victorian Curriculum describes the subject-specific learning outcomes to be achieved by students. EAL students are endeavouring to achieve these goals at the same time as they are learning English, the language of instruction in these curriculum learning areas.

The development of English language skills needs to take place at the same time as content learning, and English is best learnt while being used to achieve real purposes. However, for EAL students to participate fully in education the English language demands of the curriculum and their English learning needs must be identified and planned for.

The planning format used for the TEAL Units of Work aims to assist teachers to clearly identify and differentiate English language teaching goals from the goals of teaching in the curriculum learning areas, and thus helps to ensure that when units of work are written four important things happen:

  • subject learning goals in the curriculum learning areas are clearly spelt out
  • the language demands of the activities are identified
  • the English language learning opportunities inherent in the topic are exploited
  • assessment for learning is made explicit.

This focus, which highlights English language teaching, is of particular importance for EAL learners because of the greater need they have for explicit English language teaching
The planning format aims to assist the teachers of both EAL and mainstream students by helping them to focus on particular aspects of their teaching as they plan to:

  • identify the language demands of the units they are teaching, and thus to ensure that language teaching becomes an integral part of teaching in their curriculum learning areas
  • focus, in particular, on the English language learning needs of their EAL students
  • decide on and record the kinds of texts that students will be using, producing or responding to in the unit, so that a full range of text types is covered over time.

The planning format can be used by:

  • classroom teachers planning for their own class, or in collaboration with other teachers
  • classroom teachers and the EAL teacher planning collaboratively.

Where classroom and EAL teachers plan together, all teachers involved have much to contribute to the planning process, as classroom teachers have an extensive knowledge of the students in their class and of the content in their curriculum learning areas, and the EAL teacher has the knowledge to identify:

  • the specific language and cultural learning needs of the EAL students
  • the language demands of the mainstream curriculum
  • the strategies that will help EAL students to achieve in both content and English learning.

Planning together results in both teachers having a clear idea of the goals for both the curriculum learning area/s and for English language learning. Collaborative planning will mean that EAL learners will be developing skills and understandings that will help them to achieve the mainstream classroom goals.

TEAL annotated overview page

Victorian Curriculum content objectives:

Think about what you want students to know and understand from completing this unit. What issues are important in the topic? Are there any particular subject area outcomes that are being focused on in the unit? You might also like to note where particular topics make matches with the Victorian Curriculum, e.g. Science Level 3 – Earth and Space sciences. Record only the actual content knowledge or understanding that you hope students will learn from doing this topic – the language learning objectives are described elsewhere. Limit the number of topic goals, if there are more than a few, then the unit is probably too big and possibly too vague. Include issues that are important to the topic.

Unit name:

The name of the unit/topic should be recorded here, and perhaps also the name of the theme from which it has been derived.

Time allocation:

How many sessions/lessons per week, of what length, and for how many weeks will the unit run?

Topic specific vocabulary:

What are the words or phrases that need to be understood to communicate meanings in this unit? Include verbs, adverbs etc. as well as nouns. Include common words that have a specialist meaning in the context of the topic. Additional items could be added after the tuning-in activities have shown the vocabulary that students are not familiar with.

EAL focus

Which aspects of content and language will the EAL students need particular support with? Will texts need to be adapted or will EAL students need extra support with some of the texts? Which assessment tasks need to be adapted in response to the students’ stage of English development? Do particular cultural aspects of the curriculum need to be covered if they are new to the students?

Resources:

What resources are needed for the unit? What books, videos, picture sets, and consumables need to be sourced or bought? Which websites are suitable?

Main text focus:

This table records the variety of texts focused on for teaching purposes, or used in the unit. This table can be also used as a checklist to ensure a spread of text types and modes in the unit, and also between units.

  • Think about the kind of texts students will be speaking and listening to, reading, writing, viewing or producing and tick the relevant spaces.
  • The main text focus will be a text that is commonly used for an authentic purpose in this topic, for example the study of insects may involve writing a report about an insect, an explanation about insect life cycles or a combination of both.
  • The main text will be a teaching focus for the unit and may be highlighted in the grid.

Linguistic structure focus

This box is for recording the teaching focus of the text-types. Are there particular aspects of the texts that may need to be emphasised? e.g. the structure of a report or the need for diagrams or tables.

Linguistic features focus

Consider the text types and genres chosen. Are there particular aspects or grammatical features of these that may need to be emphasised with the EAL learners and/or mainstream learners? e.g. reports, that talk about classes of things (‘birds’ not ‘the bird’), that use the timeless/simple present tense (birds build different kinds of nests).

Assessment types used

This box gives an overview of the type of assessment for learning activities that will be undertaken. Teachers should think about the extent to which an assessment task assesses subject learning and skills, and English language learning and skills. While in many tasks there is an interaction between these, are there parts or elements of the task that focus more on subject learning, and more on English language learning skills? For example, can a student demonstrate subject learning despite limitations to their language skills. Of course, there are also many cases where it is legitimate to assess the extent to which the student can use the appropriate language to display their subject learning.

Functions

The functions lists can be used either as a checklist of the kind of functional language likely to be used in the unit, or of the functional language that students need further experience in. Highlight the functions that are being focused on, or those that students will use in taking part in the activities that are planned.

Are there particular aspects or grammatical features of these that may need to be emphasised with the EAL learners or mainstream learners? If so, put them in the EAL focus box.

Ideas for Activities

Ideas for activities

Lists of ideas for activities are included in the primary formats. These activity suggestions are linked to the aspects of language in the EAL Developmental Continuum. The lists assist teachers to choose a wide range of kinds of activities, so that students will have experience across the range of the aspects.


Planning Activities

This section is organised in a three-column format, and is used to plan the activities in the unit of work. Several copies of this page will probably be needed for each unit, depending on the size of the unit and the amount of detail that is recorded for each activity.

As activities are planned on Page 3, highlight on Page 2 the activities they match. This process gives teachers an overview of their English language program. Completed across several units of work, this process can assist teachers to ensure that the range and scope of the EAL Developmental Continuum are being covered. Not all task types will be highlighted in each unit, but they should probably all be highlighted over time. Additional activity types can be added to the lists.

Column 1 – Teaching and learning activities

The activities are written here. Make sure detail is included about what the students will be doing and what the teacher will be doing. The amount of detail will probably vary according to how familiar you are with the activity – if the activity is new, you may like to include more detail than if the process and organisation are familiar.

In addition, a code can be used for different approaches to classroom organisation, such as a code for pair work and one for group work. This code can be written beside each activity as a check that students are interacting in a range of communicative and working environments.

Column 2 – Linguistic focus 

This column is used to record the essential or characteristic linguistic structures and features of the texts that are being focused on in the activities, and which may need to be explicitly taught to students. These may include:

  • the structure of the text
  • the linguistic features
  • the topic-specific vocabulary
  • pronunciation
  • the development of concepts about how language works and the development of a metalanguage – a language to talk about language.

The Linguistic focus column will also show the sequence of teaching activities that develop understandings about the main text focus, for example, the modelling and comparing of texts and the joint construction of texts. The language focus chosen for any particular text or activity will depend on student needs. These elements are likely to be focused on many times, and understanding will develop and grow over time.

Column 3 – Assessment for learning ideas

The assessment for learning ideas column can be used to record particular assessment focuses that come out of the activities, or to record specific assessment activities. The column can also be used to record assessment criteria that relate to particular levels of the Victorian Curriculum and stages of the EAL Developmental Continuum. Assessment criteria for the same activity may differ for students at Level 3 and for Stage B2.

Assessment for learning ideas should:

  • promote shared understanding of the required learning outcomes for a given skill, topic or theme
  • help to develop learners’ capacity for self-assessment
  • involve learners in dialogue, decision-making and reflection
  • provide information (in a form understandable to the students) on the assessment criteria for feedback
  • provide opportunities for all learners to achieve their best and to have their efforts recognised
  • provide differentiated assessment
  • provide feedback and guidance for learners to plan the next steps in their learning
  • provide opportunities for learners to improve on their work
  • promote autonomy and constructive feedback.


Program Evaluation

Program evaluation 

At the end of each unit it is important to reflect on how successful it was in achieving its aims and objectives. A unit evaluation sheet comprises the last page of the unit planning format. It provides focus questions to assist teachers to reflect on the success of the unit, and to note ideas for further units.

The questions help to focus on how successful the unit was in relation to the content and the language

The planning cycle 

Writing units for particular student groups and planning the teaching cycle is a dynamic process that responds to student needs and ongoing assessment as the unit progresses. It is presumed that the planning process proceeds in the following way:

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In this kind of process, planning is ongoing throughout the unit and will respond to:

  • particular English language learning needs as they become apparent as the unit progresses
  • the level of information the students already have about the topic
  • how quickly students learn through the activities
  • how well students are able to manage the activities
  • student interest, as it develops and changes through the activities.

It is likely that information in many of the ‘boxes’ on page one of the planning format will be added to or modified during the course of the unit. The process of planning needs to be dynamic, and to be responsive to the students’ needs and interests.

Grouping and planning the activities 

The sequence of activities within a unit of work will usually fall into groups, for example:

Preparatory/introductory activities/tuning-in activities, for:

  • gauging student interest
  • checking on background understanding and the language the students already have to talk about the unit –negotiating the scope of the unit
  • discovering what students want to find out, and the way they could work to reach their own goals.

Teaching/investigating activities:

  • shared-experience activities
  • related language learning activities
  • exploring and researching activities.

English language learning activities for EAL learners – when actively planning with EAL learners’ language learning needs in mind, there are also likely to be groups of activities that focus on their English language learning needs, e.g.

  • vocabulary development activities
  • text structure focus activities
  • specific teaching strategies/clinics
  • grammatical features of text types.

Processing/bringing-it-all-together/sharing activities:

  • presenting information, e.g. reporting to the class, publishing a story
  • student/teacher reflections and evaluations of the unit
  • planning further topics.

This unit planning model focuses on assisting teachers to clearly plan for English language teaching within mainstream content units, so most topics could be mapped out on the format. For example, a mathematics unit will incorporate direct content teaching, but because it is taught through the medium of English, will also provide opportunities for English language teaching. A focus on the language of mathematics will have particular benefits for EAL students.

Organising and planning the teaching program in units of work is an effective way of ensuring a cohesive program that has logical sequences and sustained themes, and that allows for the purposeful pursuit of a body of knowledge and understanding. Units of work also provide a cohesive context for language learning.

 


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