2. My favourite animal

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Task details

Task details

Name of writing assessment task  My favourite animal
EAL curriculum level range  A2, B1, B2, C1, C2
Text orientation Informative
Task type Extended response

Task specification

Task specification

Purpose To assess students’ ability to construct simple factually informative texts to describe the physical appearance of their favourite animal, identify the country/countries where their animal can be found, what their animal eats, drinks and their typical activities. Students should also explain why this particular animal is their favourite.
Description Students individually complete a factual description of their favourite animal, based on the modelled sentence starters (See ‘Sample text and questions’ below in ‘Task implementation’). Students illustrate and label their favourite animal.
Assumed knowledge and description
  1. Content knowledge: knowledge about common domestic, zoo and wild animals 
  2. Text type, genre: simple report format
  3. Linguistic structures and features:
    • use of simple present tense
    • use of simple subject-verb-object sentences
    • use of verbs have, eat, live, etc.
    • use of ‘like + to do’
    • use of ‘like + gerund’
    • use of pronouns: it, she, he, they
    • use of adjectives to describe an animal’s physical appearance
    • use of connectives ‘and’, ‘because’ or ‘so’ etc. to rationalise their liking for the animal chosen
  4. Vocabulary: labels for animals, the names of countries where the chosen animal is typically found, concepts such as food, body parts, body coverings, typical animal activities, use of ‘like’, ‘favourite’, ‘because’…


Learning/teaching context

Learning/teaching context

Language centre/mainstream class  EAL support
Subject/key curriculum objectives, outcomes   Science
Topic/teaching unit  Unit of work around pets, zoo or farm animals
Assessment conditions
  1. Individual activity: Students should be discouraged from talking to other students once the individual part of the activity begins
  2. Formal/informal: formal
  3. Time limit: one lesson period
  4. Teacher intervention: limited to response to student request for clarification and encouragement, and for requests for words etc, not available elsewhere
  5. Access to resources: students have access to pictures of animals, books, charts and websites about animals
  6. Scaffolding (modelled/guided/independent support): modelled
  7. Accommodations: Students may complete their text by requesting the teacher to scribe words or sentences for them, which the student then copies.
Notes
  • Assessment is done on the first draft.
  • Pre-assessment activities can be extended as appropriate for students.

 


Task implementation

 

Task implementation

STAGE ACTION STEPS
Pre-assessment activity
  • Show pictures to elicit and revise the names of  animals students have recently been learning about. Revise animal habitats (perhaps with reference to a world map); body parts: paws, wings, trunk; body coverings: fur, coat, feathers, skin, scales; food; typical behaviour: koalas like to sleep in trees, cats like to play with toys, dogs like to play and chase things with which students should already be familiar.
  • Write a short model text with the students, covering aspects such as where they live, their appearance, food, drink, behaviour, reasons why some people like cats, for example:

CATS

My favourite animal is the cat. Cats live in Australia and all over the world. They are small animals. They have soft fur, and can be many different colours. Cats like to eat meat and fish, and they catch mice and birds. Some cats drink milk.  Cats sleep a lot and they like to be warm.  Cats like living with people. Many people like cats because they are friendly, they purr and they like to play.

Assessment activity
Post-assessment activity
  • In groups students read their description to each other (without mentioning the animal’s name); other students listen and guess which animal is being described.
  • Give students time to improve their work and create a final draft of their sentences on a computer which they can print out, illustrate and label.  The completed pages can be bound together to make a class text ‘Our Favourite Animals’.
  • Students can be asked to comment on which texts they think are the most successful, e.g. ask them about which texts give clear information, what makes the information so clear and what new information they learned from the texts.


Assessment criteria

Click here for the unannotated assessment criteria:

An explanation of the purpose, nature and use of criteria sheets is available at 4. Using the assessment criteria.

Samples of student work


Biographical information:

Year: 3

Home language: Vietnamese

Sample 1 Screen shot


Biographical information:

Year: 3

Home language: Vietnamese

image1


Biographical information:

Year: 

Home language: Urdu

Sample 3


Biographical information:

Year: 9

Home language: 

Sample 4 Lions

Biographical information:

Year: 5

Home language: Farsi

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Annotations and commentary

Annotations, commentaries and feedback for Task 2: My favourite animal

Purpose and value of task

This task assesses students’ abilities to write a report about a favourite animal. ‘Animals’ are a familiar topic generally of interest to students, and students often have knowledge about animal habits and attributes in their first language. Once students begin to learn vocabulary sets about body parts, size, foods, colours and so on, they can start to write simple modelled reports about animals. The topic allows them to report what they already know, but also to do some simple research around their chosen animal.

Contextual information

The students in the samples had all had all used the sample frameworks provided to organise information about their animal, and had taken part in modelled text construction with the teacher.


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Commentary

This sample shows an understanding of the task and an intention to inform the reader about some of the characteristics of a favourite animal: what it looks like – ‘cute and pretty’, what it eats – ‘meat’, and what it does – ‘plays with string’.  There is some control of the text structure with an appropriate initial sentence to introduce the selected animal to the reader. The meaning of the text itself is clear although the range of ideas is limited and the text is very short.

The text shows that the student can express simple ideas but may need to be introduced to more topic vocabulary to add details and elaborate on them. The spelling of high frequency words is accurate with the support of the teacher and environmental print.

The simple present is used throughout the text to refer to general truths about the animal’s appearance and habits

The student is able to form most letters correctly. The inconsistent use of upper and lower case letters shows that this student is just beginning to develop an understanding of their use. Little punctuation is used, but the student has included full stops correctly in two instances which suggests beginning awareness of basic punctuation and how to use it.

The student has made extensive use of teacher support and environmental print to accomplish the task and has written about the same animal as the model provided.

The marked criteria sheet shows that the student meets most criteria at level 1 of performance.

The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students at Level B1, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.

TEAL Writing Task 2 – criteria sheet – Sample 1

Using this assessment for further learning

(Select the points you think are currently of most importance to the student.)

  • This student has written about a favourite animal using some relevant ideas to describe what it looks like, what it eats and does. The student would benefit from vocabulary extension activities so that more details can be added. For example, during a teacher-student conference, the student can be shown pictures of cats and, in relation to ‘Physical appearance’, asked questions to elicit more nouns: fur, tail, paws, claws etc., and adjectives to describe these features to extend the description of a cat’s physical appearance. If the student does not yet know these quite specific vocabulary items, they can be added to the student’s personal dictionaries. The teacher could do something similar with ‘What cats do’. The teacher or the student could build up simple charts like the ones below:

Physical appearance:

Animal

Verb

Adjective

Noun

Cats have

soft

black

white

orange

grey

soft, black, white orange or grey

fur
They have

long

wavy

long, wavy

tails
They have

long

sharp

long, sharp

claws

teeth

 

What cats do:

Cats play with string
They purr  
They hunt mice
They sleep  
They like

warm places

soft beds

 

  • The student has written about a particular ‘cat’ rather than ‘cats’ in general so clarify this idea with the student so that she refers to ‘cats’ rather than ‘cat’ in the text.
    Cats are cute
    They eat meat
    They play with string

 

  • Give the student time and support to write and illustrate another draft, using the charts you have built up together. Add the product to the student’s portfolio.

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Commentary

This sample shows that the writer can communicate meanings clearly throughout a text and demonstrates that the writer has an understanding of the context, purpose and audience of the text. There is an identifiable report genre and some relevant animal characteristics have been described. The text is short but shows some control of key text structure elements. The sample includes simple descriptions of the animal, the food it eats and typical behaviour. The ideas are logically sequenced. The writer shows some ability to use the present tense to refer to general truths about the chosen animal as in the opening sentence: ‘My favourite animal is a rabbit …’, but tends to omit the verb form in other parts of the text, as in: ‘It fluppy (fluffy)’ and ‘It small and cute’.  The student begins by using the plural form ‘rabbits’ to make a general reference to the species which would be appropriate for this text, but then continues to use the singular pronoun ‘it’ to refer to a specific entity rather than the species in general. The writer has successfully used the modal ‘can’ to refer to ability as in: ‘… can do tricks’, and ‘It can live in …’, but as mentioned above there is variable subject verb agreement because the verb has been omitted, as in ‘It fluppy (fluffy)’ and ‘It small and cute’.

The writer has chosen some relevant topic vocabulary such as: carots (carrots), cage, small, backyard, fluppy (fluffy) cute, and solf (soft). The spelling of high frequency words is variable. Letters are formed correctly and upper and lower case letters are used appropriately. Full stops are used consistently to mark sentence units.

The writer made use of the text framework and teacher support to scaffold the writing.

The marked criteria sheet shows that the student meets some criteria at level 2 of performance and some at level 3.

The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students at Level B2, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.

TEAL Writing Task 2 – criteria sheet – Sample 2

Using this assessment for further learning

(Select the points you think are currently of most importance to the student.)

  • This student has written a short text including some relevant ideas to describe the main characteristics of a favourite animal. During the teacher-student conference the teacher could see if the student can work out how to spell some of the key words to describe rabbits, by sounding out the letters for ‘fluffy’ and ‘soft’. Show the student the written form of ‘carrot’ to see if he or she can self-correct. Encourage the student to copy these words again.
  • The student begins by using the plural form to refer to ‘rabbits’ in general which is appropriate for this text, but then uses the singular pronoun ‘it’ to refer to a specific entity. Clarify with the student the use of ‘it’ and ‘they’, emphasising that ‘they’ refers to ‘rabbits’ in general. At the same time elicit the verb form that should appear in the middle column below to see if the student can self-correct the omission of the verb form in some of the sentence units.
  • It might be worth extending the student’s vocabulary a little and introduce the word ‘a hutch’ to refer to the special cage pet rabbits live in.
Rabbits eat carrots
Rabbits (They) are fluffy and soft
They are small and cute
They can do tricks
They can live in your backyard
  • Give the student time and support to write and illustrate another draft, using the spellings of words and the chart you have built up together. Add the final product to the student’s portfolio.


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Commentary

This sample shows an understanding of the task and an intention to inform the reader about many of the characteristics of a favourite animal.  The writer has adopted an appropriate report genre. There is consistent control of the required text structure. The text begins with a clear introduction and goes on to include a logical sequence of ideas moving from where the animal can be found, its physical appearance, what it eats and typical behaviour. The reasons for choosing the dog as a favourite animal are made clear, although the text could be improved by putting this element either closer to the beginning or as the concluding statement.

The text shows that the student can express a range of ideas on the topic and can include some extended description.

The simple present is used throughout the text to refer to general truths about the dog’s habitat, appearance and behaviour. The writer uses plural forms to refer to dogs in general which is appropriate for this text. The ‘article + noun pattern’ is used to refer generally to the species as in ‘…my favourite animal is the dog’. Subject verb agreement is generally consistent although there is an error with this as in ‘dogs lives…’ . The writer uses both simple (1) and compound sentences (2): 1. ‘Dogs lives all over the work (world) 2.  ‘There are so many animal(s) all over the world but my favourite animal is the dog’. He uses a variety of connectives appropriately. There are some grammatical errors showing that the writer is struggling with expressing uncountable forms and negation as in: Dogs have so many (much) hair’ and ‘some dogs haven’t hair’ (don’t have). There are some other issues which are not consistent throughout, for example, the overuse of ‘dogs’ rather than ‘they’. Generally the writer uses correct plural forms but in the opening sentence writes ‘There are so many animal (animals)…’ Generally the writer has used the infinitive form after ‘like to’ with one inconsistency, ‘Dogs like to living…’.

The student has used a range of vocabulary to write about a favourite animal, though the use of the word ‘fur’ rather than ‘hair’ would have been more appropriate in this text. He has spelled most items correctly, including the more complex word ‘intelligent’. There is evidence of consistent use of sentence units and consistent basic punctuation. There is some inconsistency with capitalisation.

The student has made use of modelled grammatical patterns.

The marked criteria sheet shows that the student meets most criteria at level 3 of performance.

The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students at Level B2, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.

TEAL Writing Task 2 – criteria sheet – Sample 3

The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students at Level B2, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.

Using this assessment for further learning

(Select the points you think are currently of most importance to the student.)

  • This student has written confidently about a favourite animal, using a range of relevant ideas to describe what it looks like, what it eats and does. Encourage the student to extend ideas and write a little more about each element. During a teacher student conference ask the students questions such as:
    • Why do we have dogs all over the world?
    • Do we like living with dogs? Why? Elicit ideas such as ‘man’s best friend’, ‘domesticated’ as opposed to ‘wild’ etc, working dogs and dogs kept aw pets.

Show pictures of different dogs and elicit other ways to describe them:

  • big, small, to have a smooth coat, to have lots of fur or to have so much fur, to be furry, many colours, black, white, brown or a combination etc.

Elicit other things dogs are well known for as well as being friendly and intelligent:

  • helpful – guide dogs – dogs can make us feel better – some dogs visit hospitals, hunting dogs etc. just to extend his ideas.

Help the student to make notes or provide notes for him as they are raised during the discussion.

  • Encourage the student to use pronouns more often rather than repeating the word ‘dogs’. Ask what word he could be used instead of ‘dogs’. ‘They’ is used in the text so ask the student to identify where this word could be used again.
  • See if the student can self-correct the singular form of ‘animal’ in the opening sentence.
  • Help the student to differentiate between the use of ‘many’ and ‘much’ when used with the pattern ‘so + much/many’
  •                   Many or much? Countable Uncountable
    I have so _________________ friends  
    I have so_________________   hair
    I have so _________________   homework
    I have so _________________ pens  
    I have so _________________   rice on my plate

See if the student can work out how to improve the example of negation in writing: some dogs haven’t hair (fur). Show him the statement, and elicit the yes/no question form and the yes/no response as illustrated below and see if he or she can work out the negative form. Then see if the student can transfer this to the text.

  • Statement: All dogs have fur
  • Question: Do all dogs have fur?
  • Answer Yes they do / No they don’t
  • Negative: Some dogs don’t have fur
  • Point out how well the student has spelt most vocabulary in the text, even quite difficult words such as ‘friendly’ and ‘intelligent’. See if he/or she can identify the correct spelling of ‘mostly’.
  • Give the student time and support to write and illustrate another draft. Add the final product to the student’s portfolio.


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Evidence of consistent use of sentence units and consistent basic punctuation and capitalisation.

The student has made use of modelled grammatical patterns.

The marked criteria sheet shows that the student meets most criteria at level 3 of performance.

The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students at Level C2, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.

TEAL Writing Task 2 – criteria sheet – Sample 4.

Using this assessment for further learning (Select the points you think are currently of most importance to the student.) 

  • This student has written confidently about a favourite animal, using a range of relevant ideas to describe what it looks like, what it eats and does. The student could be encouraged to extend on some ideas and write a little more about each element. During a teacher-student conference, show the student some pictures of lions and ask questions such as:
    • Do lions like to live in cold, wet countries or hot, dry countries?
    • Do lions live in groups?
    • What do we call a group of lions?
    • What do we call baby lions?
    • What colour are lions?
    • What do we call the hair around a lion’s neck?
    • Are their paws big or small?
    • Are their claws / teeth long and sharp?
    • Who hunts for food? The male or the female?
    • Who takes care of the cubs? The male or the female?
  • Help the student to make notes or provide notes as they are raised during the discussion.
  • See if the student can self-correct the subject-verb agreement in the second and fifth sentences.
  • Help the student to notice different ways of forming plurals
  •                   Noun Regular plural Irregular plural
    Apple Apples  
    Orange Oranges  
    Lion Lions  
    Tooth   Teeth
    Child   Children
    Mouse   Mice
  • Give the student time and support to write and illustrate another draft. Add the final product to the student’s portfolio.

 

Screen Shot Task 2 Sample 5 2015-04-17 at 4.49.23 pm

 

Commentary 

In this sample the student shows an understanding of the task and an intention to inform the reader about many of the characteristics of a favourite animal.  An appropriate report genre is used. There is varying control of the required text structure. The text begins with a clear introduction and goes on to include a logical sequence of ideas moving from where the animal can be found, its physical appearance, what it eats and typical behaviour. The reasons for choosing the kangaroo as a favourite animal are however rather implicit. A concluding paragraph which explains explicitly why the kangaroo is the writer’s favourite animal would have strengthened the text.

The text shows that the student can express a range of ideas on the topic and some extended description is included.

The simple present is used throughout the text to refer to general truths about the kangaroo’s habitat, appearance and behaviour. The writer uses both singular and plural forms to refer to the chosen animal. After the initial identification of the kangaroo, subsequent mentions should use the plural form ‘kangaroos’ in order to refer to them as a general rather than a specific entity. Subject verb agreement is generally consistent although there are one or two errors with this as in ‘kangaroo likes …’ and ‘kangaroo live’.  The writer uses both simple and compound sentences.  The modal ‘can’ for ability is used accurately as in ‘… they can jump very high’. There are some grammatical errors where the writer uses present continuous aspect rather than the simple present which has the effect of making the intended description of general habits seem like temporary events. There are some other mistakes which are not consistent throughout, such as article use as in ‘My favourite animal is kangaroo’, and expression of possessions as in ‘the tail’ and ‘the poket’. However later the student expresses this relationship accurately as in ‘their baby’ .

The student has used a range of vocabulary and has spelt most items correctly, even the more difficult words, with the exception of ‘pocket’ and ‘succulent’. There is evidence of consistent basic punctuation and the consistent use of sentence units.

The student made use of the text framework to communicate, and made independent use of environmental print to accomplish the task.

The marked criteria sheet shows that the student meets most criteria at level 3 of performance.

The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students at Level C2, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.

TEAL Writing Task 2 – criteria sheet – Sample 5

Using this assessment for further learning (Select the points you think are currently of most importance to the student.) 

  • This student has written about a favourite animal using a range of relevant ideas to describe what it looks like, what it eats and does. The student changes from using the present simple to using the present continuous to describe typical kangaroo behaviour so it would be helpful to clarify the difference in use between present simple and present continuous, where the former is used to talk about general truths, and the latter is used to describe events which are temporary and possibly happening at the moment of speaking. During the teacher-student conference the teacher could show the student some pictures or a short video clip and ask questions such as: What’s the kangaroo doing now?  What do kangaroos always do?
  • In the picture or video clip: NOW / talking about a SPECIFIC group of kangaroos (THE kangaroos in the picture) ALWAYS (Yesterday, today, tomorrow, next week) / GENERAL TRUTH
    The kangaroos are sheltering from the fierce sun Kangaroos shelter from the fierce sun
    The kangaroos are coming out to eat Kangaroos come out at night to eat

 

The student has referred to countable entities in the singular form so this issue may need to be clarified:

 

Uncountable

Countable, plural

soft

long

little

fur

tails

pockets (pouches)

  • Show the student where possession has been expressed correctly and then ask the student to self-correct’ ‘the tail’ and ‘the poket’ and ‘their baby’.
  • Point out how well the student has spelt most vocabulary in the text, even more difficult words. Help the student to add to this achievement with the words ‘pocket’, but point out that the word ‘pouch’ is used in this context.
  • The student has occasionally written about a particular ‘kangaroo’ rather than ‘kangaroos’ in general so clarify the idea  ‘kangaroos’ refers to the animal in general.
  • Kangaroos live only in Australia
    Kangaroos like to eat grass
  • Give the student time and support to write and illustrate another draft, using the charts you have built up together. Add the final product to the student’s portfolio.


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