It is important for grade 4 pupils to meet the standards for English Language Arts set forth in the New York State standards. It is in the light of this that great attention must be paid to the way English is taught in the grade 4 classroom. When a teacher prepares and delivers his or her lessons in English, she should do this with the objective of making sure that his or her pupils meet the standards of the State of New York in mind. The standards should be her guide as he or she delivers the lessons in English and administers both oral and written tests to find out whether or not his or her students have mastered the required skills.
What educational strategies and instructional methods may be employed to ensure that grade 4 pupils meet the standards for English Language Arts set forth by the State of New York? One of the skills ( Education Planet, 2010) that grade 4 pupils are expected to have is being able to listen and speak in formal and informal settings wherein they are expected to talk with people of different ages, genders, and cultures. One instructional method (Nada’s ESL Island, 2000) that can be used to ensure that grade 4 pupils achieve the above mentioned skill is the communicative approach.
In the communicative approach, the teacher gives more emphasis on language functions rather than on language structures. As such, when the teacher designs a lesson, her lesson is focused on a language function such as greeting a person, telling a story, giving directions, or asking for help with something. She then decides what language structures are suited for a particular language function. For instance, prepositions can be taught for pupils to learn how to give directions. The LEA or Language Experience Approach (Nada’s ESL Island, 2000) may be utilized by the teacher in teaching the uses of the different parts of speech.
What the teacher does is make the pupils read a line of text. Then she asks questions like “What words were used to describe the flower? ” and “ What words were used to describe the mountain? ”. The teacher may then tell the pupils that words like pretty, colorful, tall, and big are called adjectives and that adjectives are words used for describing. What about listening? What strategies or instructional methods can be utilized to develop listening skills among pupils? Pupils have to learn to become active rather than passive listeners.
Here, the teacher can make use of the cloze test wherein the pupils are asked to listen to the teacher read a short poem twice. The pupils are then given a copy of the poem with some words left out. The pupils are to fill in the missing words after listening to the reading of the poem. With regard to developing skills in speaking, the teacher can make use of the audiolingual method wherein the teacher first teaches the pupils a set of expressions like “May I help you? ”, “What time is it? ” and “How do you do?
”. She then asks the pupils to repeat each expression after him or her. The teacher can later have the pupils engage in a role play wherein they are given the chance to put into practice the expressions they have learned. Aside from acquiring listening and speaking skills for formal and informal situations, grade 4 pupils ( Education Planet, 2010) are also expected to learn how to write for social interaction and produce written messages to establish, maintain, and enhance personal relationships with others.
One way of teaching writing with this purpose in mind is through the use of the interactive journal. How is this done? The teacher sets the topic for the class to write about. She then pairs off the students and makes sure that each pair has a small notebook. Pupil A then begins by writing something about the topic before turning the note over to his or her partner pupil B who reads and reacts to what pupil a has written about the topic. From time to time the teacher goes around to check to make sure that the students are not deviating from the topic.
Letter writing could also be a useful activity in developing the pupils’ social interaction skills. For example, after talking about how to take care of the environment, the teacher may ask pupils to write a letter to their congressman or mayor. The State of New York ( Education Planet 2010) expects grade 4 pupils to also be able to listen and read to evaluate experiences, ideas, information, and issues by using evaluative criteria from different perspectives and by recognizing the difference in evaluations based on different sets of criteria.
One technique ( Nada’s ESL Island, 2000) that the teacher can use to achieve this goal is the interactive approach to reading. Here the pupils do not only read but also interact with the material. By asking questions, the teacher allows the pupils to predict what will happen before the next part of the story is read, say whether or not they have the same experience as that of the character or characters in the story, comment on the actions of the characters, or even tell whether the story happened in real life or not.
Grade 4 pupils ( Education Planet, 2010) are also expected to learn how to speak and write for critical analysis and evaluation by presenting opinions and judgments on experiences, ideas, information, and issues clearly, logically, and persuasively with reference to specific criteria on which the opinion or judgment is based. This goal can be attained by asking Why and How questions about a topic that had been read or listened to instead of the usual What, Who, and Where questions. Pupils may also be taught how to write and speak critically by asking them “What do you think…” or “What if…” questions.
Such kind of questions would allow them to present their opinions and judgments on an issue that had been read or listened to. Another standard that was set by the State of New York ( Education Planet 2010) is grade 4 pupils should be able to listen and read for literary response which involves comprehending, interpreting, and critiquing imaginative texts in every medium, drawing from personal experiences and knowledge to understand the text, and recognizing the social, historical, and cultural features of the text.
In order to achieve this, the teacher can use the top down approach wherein the pupils can bring to fore their experiences and present knowledge in understanding the text. The pupil uses his or her experience and current knowledge to be able to relate to the text. The child’s schema is also utilized in being able to understand the meaning of each word and sentence in the text. Another skill ( Education Planet, 2010) that grade 4 pupils are expected to have is being able to speak and write for literary response which involves presenting interpretations, analysis, and reactions to the content and language of a text.
Here the teacher can make use of the interactive approach in reading wherein the pupils are mad to interpret a line or a word in a poem. They are also made to react to the content of a poem or story and give their opinion and judgment regarding its contents either orally or in written form. Grade 4 pupils ( Education Planet, 2010) are also expected to speak and write for literary expression which involves producing imaginative texts that use language and text structures that are inventive and often multilayered.
To develop this skill in the pupils, the teacher (Nada’s ESL Island, 2000) can make use of the KWL method. Here the pupils are asked to put down what they already know about the topic that will be discussed or text that would be read. The teacher then asks the pupils to write down or say what they expect to learn from the topic or text. After the teacher discusses the topic or read the text, the pupils are asked to write down or say what they have learned from the discussion of the topic or the reading of the text.
Based on what they have learned, the pupils may create a new story or composition as a kind of learning synthesis. The State of New York ( Education Planet, 2010) also aims to develop in the pupils the ability to listen and read to acquire information and understanding which involves collecting data, facts, and ideas; discovering relationships, concepts, and generalizations; and using knowledge from oral, written, and electronic sources. The research method can be used to develop the above mentioned skill in the pupils.
While listening to a text being read, the pupils are asked to pay close attention to important pieces of information and note these down in their notebooks. The same thing would be done as the pupils read a piece of text. The teachers may guide the pupils in using semantic maps which the pupils used to organize the pieces of information that they have picked up from listening to or reading the text. Semantic maps also allow the pupils to see the relationship among the different ideas. Aside from semantic maps, pupils may also be taught how to construct charts which also help organize pieces of information they have picked up.
The State of New York ( Education Planet, 2010) also expects pupils to be able to speak and write to acquire and transmit information which requires asking probing and clarifying questions, interpreting information in one’s own words, applying information from one context to another, and presenting the information and interpretation clearly, concisely, and comprehensively. One method that the teacher could use to develop this skill among the grade 4 pupils involves prereading, reading, and postreading activities. In the prereading activity pupils are made to scan or skim the text.
They are afterwards asked to come up with questions that they might want to ask about the material. The pupils then read the text and while reading, they try to look for answers to their own questions. They later present their answers to the class. With regard to asking questions, the teachers could invite a fireman, for example, to talk about his profession. After his talk, the pupils are encouraged to ask questions regarding what they listened to. What other educational strategies and instructional methods can the teacher utilize to improve the reading, speaking, writing, and listening skills of grade 4 pupils?
With regard to improving the listening skills of the pupils, the teacher may dictate to the pupils a piece of text line by line. As she reads each line twice, the pupils write down each line in their notebooks. After the last line of the text had been read, the teacher reads the text again and asks the pupils to check what they wrote as they listen to the teacher read the text. Another educational strategy that the teacher can employ to improve the listening skills of grade 4 pupils is to have them listen to the teacher playback a recorded newscast or story. The teacher may opt to playback the recorded newscast or story twice.
He or she then gives the pupils an exercise to answer to test how well they listened to the recorded newscast or story. The test can be a fill in the blanks or multiple choice type of exercise. These can de done again and again until the pupils attain an acceptable level of mastery. The speaking skills of grade 4 pupils can be improved by introducing them to debate. Here the pupils are given the chance to express their opinions, views, and judgments regarding an issue. Asking grade 4 pupils to retell a story they have read is also a good way of improving the speaking skills of grade 4 pupils.
The pupils retell a story in front of the class through the use of visual aids. They may also be encouraged to create their own stories and share it with the rest of the class. Teaching pupils how to conduct an interview is another way of improving their listening and speaking skills, One pupil could play the role of TV reporter while another pupil could be the person being interviewed. To apply what they have learned about interviewing people, pupils could be asked to interview, let us say, the nurse in their community and have them report the results of the interview in front of the class.
Show and Tell is also a good way of developing the speaking skills of grade 4 pupils. They may be asked to bring to class a favorite pet or toy and talk about these in front of the class. The pupils might also be asked to draw any picture and then call them one by one to the front of the class to talk about their picture. What educational strategies or instructional methods may be employed to improve the writing skills of pupils? Aside from journal or letter writing, grade 4 pupils may be taught how to write a haiku or a tanka on any topic of their choice.
They could then share with their classmates what they wrote. Other activities that could improve the writing skills of pupils are poster making, making greeting cards. The integrated approach can also be used to improve the writing skills of grade 4 pupils. For example, the teacher could conduct a simple experiment inside the classroom. While the teacher is doing the experiment, the pupils can write down what they observe and their conclusions after the teacher finishes conducting the experiment, The teacher could also have the pupils read a story and organize the sequence of events as they happened in the story.
Based on the arranged sequence of events, the pupils could be asked to rewrite the story. With regard to improving the reading skills of the pupils, the teacher could make use of SSR or Sustained Silent Reading wherein the teacher sets aside a few minutes of the period to allow the pupils to read their favorite book. This sustains pupils’ interest in reading. DRTA or Directed Reading Thinking Activity ( Nada’s ESL Island, 2000) can also be utilized by the teacher to improve the reading skills of grade 4 pupils.
The teacher first reads the title of the text and he or she asks the pupils what they think the story is going to be about. He or she then solicits different answers from the pupils. The teacher then reads the first paragraph of the story and stops to ask the pupils what they think will happen in the next part of the story. He or she writes their predictions on the board. After reading the next part of the story the teacher erases the answers on the board that are no longer needed. The procedure goes on until the story is finished. The pupils may be asked to write a summary of the story.
Aside from DRTA, the ETR or Experience Text Relationship (Nada’s ESL Island, 2000) method may be utilized to improve the reading skills of grade 4 pupils. The teacher begins by asking the pupils what they know about the text that is going to be read. The teacher then reads the story along with the pupils and pausing every know and then to discuss the part of the story that had just been read and ask what the pupils thin will happen in the next part of the story. After the story had been read, the teacher discusses the story with pupils and ask them to relate it to their personal experience.
The PreP or the Prereading Plan (Nada’s ESL Island, 2000) also helps in improving the reading skills of grade 4 pupils since it attempts to trigger previous knowledge and provide background knowledge which will help the pupils understand what they are reading. The teacher begins by introducing a main concept to the pupils to prepare them for what is to be read or listened to. For instance the teacher could start by saying, “ Today, we are a going to talk about a planet. Who can tell me what a planet is. ” He or she then allows the pupils to give their own ideas of the concept and lists these down on the board or on a chart.
After correcting some misconceptions about the topic or idea, the teacher asks the pupils to write something about the idea by utilizing the words on the board or on the chart. After having written something about the topic, the pupils are now ready to read the text that talks about the topic they wrote about. The SQ3R or the Survey Question Read Write Review (Nada’s ESL Island , 2000) is another method that is utilized by teachers to help improve the reading skills of grade pupils. The teacher first asks the pupils to look at the title, the headings of paragraphs, the introduction , and the conclusion of the text that they are about to read.
This helps the pupils gain an idea about the text before they actually start reading it. The pupils are then asked to read the questions at the end of the text so that more or less they will have an idea of the kind of information that they are expected to look for from the text. The teacher may now ask the pupils to read the text. The teacher reminds the pupils to take note of ideas and words that they do not understand and to read the text the second time around. The next things that the pupils are asked to do is to write the answers to the questions found at the end of the text.
They may read the answers aloud in front of the class. The teacher advises the pupils to review that they wrote to ensure that the information remains fresh inside their minds. Teachers (Nada’s ESL Island , 2000) also utilize story grammar to improve the reading skills of grade 4 pupils. Pupils are taught the four major components of story grammar which are main character and main problem or conflict, character clues which involve the actions of the characters, their dialogue, thoughts, physical qualities, and their reactions to other characters and events, the solving of the problem or conflict, and the theme of the story.
Breaking down the story into the above mentioned components help the pupils understand easily what they just read. Semantic maps may also be used as an organizer of the components of story grammar. Strategic Reading (Nada’s ESL Island 2000) is quite similar to the other approaches used in teaching reading to grade 4 pupils. The teacher begins by asking the pupils what they know about what is going to be read and what they expect to learn. Afterward, the teacher employs Click and Clunk while the pupils are reading the first part of the text. Clunks are the words or ideas that pupils find difficult to understand.
The teacher helps the pupils “fix” the clunks as they continue reading the text. The same thing is done for the other parts of the text. The teacher wraps up the reading activities by asking the pupils to say what they have learned from what they just read. With Sample Reading Strategies, (Nada’s ESL Island, 2000) teachers ask the pupils to say what they know about what is going to be read, write about an experience related to the topic, say something about the title of the text that will be read, make predictions about the contents of the text, skim the text for general ideas, or read the opening part and the closing part of the text.
While reading, pupils may encounter words that are not familiar. The teachers help the pupils figure the meaning of the words by using context clues. Pupils may be also asked to predict what would happen in the next paragraph or draw pictures to show what they understand about what they have read so far. After reading, pupils may be asked to make an outline, a chart, a map or diagram to show what they have understood about the text. They may also be asked to retell what they have read or relate what they have read to their own experience.
CBLI or Context Based Language Instruction makes learning language for pupils also interesting. In CBLI, the teacher makes use of real life texts rather than nursery rhymes or classic stories. Real life text may be in the form of a news article, recipes, posters, advertisements, or brochures. The teacher uses these to help pupils understand how language structures are applied in real life. For example, recipes, posters, and advertisements make plenty of use of action verbs. Instructional leaflets also make use of a lot of action verbs as well as prepositions.
Sugestopedia is another method that teachers use to teach language to grade 4 pupils. Before having pupils read the text, the teacher prepares the mood of the classroom by playing soft music. She then asks the pupils to close their eyes and listen carefully to what is going to be read. Music helps condition the mind of the pupils and allows them to concentrate on what is being read. Aside from sugestopedia, teachers also help improve the listening and comprehension skills of the pupils by asking them to perform the appropriate action for a word.
For example when the teacher says “sit”, the pupils sit down. When the teacher says “stand” the pupils stand up. When the teacher says “Step backwards” the pupils move one step back. This helps the pupils become with the meaning attached to words aside from becoming familiar with the words themselves. There are many other techniques that teachers can employ in honing the English communication skills of grade 4 pupils. However, the technique that must be employed by the teacher should be suitable to the learning abilities of grade 4 pupils.
References (2010). English Language Arts State Standards for New York. Lesson Planet. Retrieved August 20, 2010 from http://www. lessonplanet. com. (n. d. ). Ideas for Teaching Writing. Kim’s Korner for Teacher Talk. Retrieved August 22, 2010 from http://www. kimskorner4teachertalk. com. (2000) Teaching Second Language Reading. Nada’s ESL Island Resources for Teachers and Students. Retrieved August 20, 2010 from http://www. Nadaisland. com.