13. Choosing a gift for a character

Please click on the toggles below to navigate through information on this assessment task and reveal the links for downloading task materials.


Task Details

Task Details

Name of Oral Assessment Task Choosing a gift for a character
EAL Student Stage Range  B2, B3, S2, S3, S4
Text Orientation Imaginative
Task Type Interaction and negotiation


Task Specification

Task Specification

Purpose To assess learner’s ability to be involved in an informal interaction and negotiation with peers.
Description Learners discuss a suitable gift for a character in a novel or film, a gift that will assist or reward the character, at a certain point in the story.
Assumed Knowledge and Description
  1. Content knowledge: Familiarity with a novel or film being studied
  2. Text type, genre: Collaborative group discussion
  3. Linguistic structures and features:

    • Making suggestions and giving reasons to support the suggestion.
    • I/we think…
    • We could/we should…
    • How about…
    • …as it…
    • Reporting a choice and justifying reasons for the choice
    • We chose/decided…
    • Because…
  4. Vocabulary: Relevant to the character, situation and suggestions for gifts arising from these.

 


Learning/Teaching Context

Learning/Teaching Context

Language Centre/Mainstream Class Mainstream class – EAL Support
Subject/key syllabus objectives, outcomes  Character analysis and exploration of themes in a literary text.
Topic/Teaching Unit A short story, novel or film relevant to the students and their level.
Assessment Conditions
  1. Group activity
  2. Formal/informal:
  3. Time limit: The task should take place in a single lesson period, with 10 to 15 minutes for the group discussion and 3 to 5 minutes for individual presentations.
  4. Teacher intervention:  Limited to response to student request for clarification and encouragement
  5. Scaffolding (modelled/guided/independent support): Modelled
  6. Accommodations: Students may report to smaller groups rather than the whole class. This may be more relevant for students still developing confidence in public speaking.
Notes
  • Pre-assessment activities can be extended or reduced as appropriate for the learners.
  • The teacher needs to record and assess an individual in the context of the collaborative group discussion. This may enable focused assessment and feedback for each student.


Task Implementation

Task Implementation

STAGE ACTION STEPS
Pre-assessment activity
  • Within the context of class study of a book or film the teacher can model the idea of selecting a gift for one of the minor characters.  For example, ‘What could we give (Character x) that might be useful to him or her’ OR ‘What gift could we give which is a suitable reward for something they have done?’.
  • Lead the class in eliciting and discussing possible gifts and why they would be suitable, together with discussion of the reasons for the suggested gifts
  • Lead a class discussion to make a class decision about the most suitable gift. Model strategies like eliminating the least popular choices first and reaching consensus by discussion.
  • Tell students that they must give gifts to the two or three main characters in the book or film.
Assessment activity
Post-assessment activity
  • Jigsaw groups so that they report back on their respective choices and reasons in small groups.
  • Students could role play giving the gift to the character and the character’s response to the gift.


Assessment Criteria

Samples of Student Work

Annotations and Commentary

Purpose and Value of task

This task assesses the ability of students to participate in a collaborative discussion with peers, in which they discuss a character and events in a literary work they are familiar with, in order to reach agreement about a suitable gift for a character in the story. It provides assessment information about EAL students’ abilities to negotiate with each other and discuss a literary work they have been studying.

Contextual Information

The Year 10 students in these videos all studied the same film, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993, J & M Entertainment) prior to being given this task. The students had previously discussed the characters in the film, and the idea of giving a gift to a character that would be useful or suitable for them given their personality or circumstances in the film. The students were grouped by similar language level in order to form groups for the video recording of the discussion.

In starting the discussion, the students were asked to say a little about the character they had chosen, and what happened to them in the film, before discussing suitable gifts. The students were asked to discuss a number of possible gifts, and to give reasons the gifts might be suitable, or not be suitable, before coming to a decision.

Commentary

The students all begin by giving a brief description of Gilbert, and what happens to him in the film, followed by discussion of suitable gifts for him. In all cases the groups reach a consensus on what to give him after failing to agree on a number of other possible gifts. The choices of gifts relate mainly to the plot and specific events in the film, rather than to general themes and issues that may be raised by the film.

The different groups of students are able to describe and discuss their ideas, despite limitations of their still developing English language skills sometimes limiting the clarity, or grammatical accuracy, of the language they need to explore their ideas. The effort of exploring ideas, collaborating in discussion, and reaching agreement mean that in all the discussions there are noticeable language errors and mistakes. Nonetheless, in all the samples, the students effectively communicate their ideas and work together to come to a group decision. The discussions reveal that the students clearly understand the film, empathise with the characters, and think of practical ideas as gifts. The four samples illustrate how Secondary EAL students can discuss learning content, despite varying levels of control over English.


Sample One

Sample 1

Biographical information

Student A (Left of screen):

Year 10

First language: Thai

Student B (Right of screen):

Year 10

First language: Korean

Commentary

These students produce a sustained and easily comprehensible discussion, despite their relatively early level of proficiency in English, and noticeable errors of structure and pronunciation. The nature and quality of their ideas comes through clearly despite limitations in their control of English grammar and phonology. They have a strong collaborative ethos and work well together to successfully complete the task. Student B even whispers to help student A at some points when she gets ‘stuck’. There are noticeable errors of linguistic structure in the formation of some phrases (such as when student B struggles to find a structure to describe Gilbert’s brother Arnie, between times of 1:15 and 1:30 on the tape), and in the articulation of certain sounds of English (such as student A’s difficulty in producing /r/ in words like ‘Grape’ and ‘present’). However the students’ patterns of interaction and use of strategies is quite effective in achieving completion of the task.

The marked criteria sheet for Sample 1 shows that while these students sometimes meet criteria at level two of performance in criteria related to aspects of the interaction (Texts and response to texts, Cultural conventions of language use and Maintaining and negotiating communication), more criteria relate to level one, especially in relation to Linguistic structures and features. Despite their differences, both students perform at similar levels, so this marking of the criteria sheet applies equally to both students. The students’ English language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students at Stage S2 of the EAL Developmental Continuum.

TEAL Oral task 13 – Criteria sheet – Sample 1


Sample 2

Biographical information 

Students A (Left of screen):

Year 10

First language: Mandarin

Student B (Centre of screen):

Year 10

First language: Somali

Student C

Year 10

First language: Arabic

Commentary

These students share their ideas, and convey them clearly, despite shortcomings in their control over aspects of English. However their interaction is not particularly fluent and often relies on body language and gesture, rather than the use of language to signal turn-taking. While they share turns, they often do not make or keep eye contact with their partners, and their verbalization of acknowledgment of their partners is minimal. Student A expresses some more complex ideas than students B and C. All the students make grammatical errors in expressing their ideas, but this does not impede comprehension.

The marked criteria sheet for sample 2 indicates that while these students mostly meet criteria at level 2 of performance of this task, they meet criteria at level 1 in relation to Cultural conventions of language use. This may indicate they are not used to working with each other in a collaborative task, or that they are still developing their cultural fluency in English. Student A also meets some criteria at level 3 of performance of this task (shaded in light blue on the marked criteria sheet extract below). All students are using a wider range of grammatical structures than the students in Sample 1. Although there are still noticeable errors of pronunciation their discussion is quite intelligible. The language use of student A in this task is consistent with descriptions of students at Stage S3 EAL Developmental Continuum, while students B and C use of English is consistent with descriptions of students at Stage S2.

TEAL Oral task 13 – Criteria sheet – Sample 2


Sample 3

Biographical information 

Student A (Left of screen):

Year 10

First language: Mandarin

Student B (Centre of screen):

Year 10

First language: Greek

Student C (Right of screen):

Year 10

First language: Mandarin

Commentary

These students are quite direct in their interaction, making and maintaining eye contact, explicitly making suggestions, and commenting on each other’s suggestions to work together to explore their ideas and reach a decision. Student C is more vocal, and makes more contributions than the boys. Student B is very involved in the interaction, but makes shorter contributions. Student A is quieter, but when he does make a contribution it is clear, and his control of grammar is good, although his pronunciation of some sounds is not quite accurate.

The marked criteria sheet for Sample 3 indicates that the students meet criteria that are at level 3 of performance of this task, with some criteria at level 4 being met by all students (shaded in yellow), or by student C (shaded in light blue). The students’ English language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students at Stage S3 of the EAL Developmental Continuum.

TEAL Oral task 13 – Criteria sheet – Sample 3


Sample Four

Sample 4

Biographical information

Student A (Left of screen):

Year 10

First Language: Persian

Student B (Centre of screen):

Year 10

First Language: Somali

Student C (Right of screen):

Year 10

First Language: Indonesian

 

Commentary

Students A and C do the work of describing the character, Gilbert Grape, and events in the story. They give clear and fluent descriptions and recounts of events in quite long turns. While the group discussion is quite short, there is a strong cooperative and interactive quality to it, with student B assisting student C when she gets stuck, and becomes self-conscious. They address each other directly, and they respond to each other’s questions and comments. They maintain constant eye contact with their conversational partners. Student A looks off-screen early in the video at a conversational partner who asked a prompt question to start the conversation. They employ a broader range of vocabulary (e.g. ‘instead of’) and generally exhibit clearer and more fluent pronunciation than the other samples. Student B is not as quite as clear in his pronunciation as students C and A. Student A’s pronunciation is very clear, and many aspects of it resemble the sounds of his native English speaking peers.

The marked criteria sheet for sample 4 indicates that all three of the students meet criteria that are at level 4 of performance on the criteria sheet for this task. A wider range of language structures are used by these students than in the other samples, their speech sounds more fluent and demonstrates clear linking of sounds, appropriate stress, and varied intonation, which has the effect of adding interest to their discussion. The students’ English language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students at Stage S4 of the EAL Developmental Continuum.

TEAL Oral task 13 – Criteria sheet – Sample 4


Using this assessment to improve learning

  1. Get the students to listen to or view an audio or video recording of their discussion. Ask them to comment on how well they were able to:
    • describe the character and events in the book or film
    • express their opinions and thoughts about what why should or shouldn’t choose as a gift
    • interact with their group members, say what they wanted to, and respond to their classmates’ ideas
    • Depending on the students’ needs, you may choose to get them to focus on one of these areas.
  2. Get the students to identify three ways in which they think their speaking could improve. Ask them to find an example of someone in the group doing what they would like to in order to improve their speaking in the recording.

Self-checking

  1. For students whose control over linguistic structures and features is at a lower level than the levels of performance on criteria related to interaction:
  • watch the video of themselves and focus on features where errors are evident, and ask students to identify when they use the structure correctly, and when they use it incorrectly (for example, in Sample 1, when the students use the word ‘about’, or when they omit the final sound of a word).

2. Give the students a simplified criteria sheet and ask them to mark what they think they did, and discuss how they could do things they are not recorded as doing, including meeting criteria at the next level of performance.

Peer checking

  1. Ask students to look at a stronger performance and make a list to identify ways in which the students interact and respond to each other, then compare their own performance to their list. The list could include the following:
  • body language e.g. eye contact, facing each other
  • language: asking questions and responding to questions asked, using a partner’s name
  • giving an evaluative comment about a suggestion e.g. ‘that’s a good idea’.


Skip to toolbar