Saturday, April 19, 2014

2014 April 19 | Brendan Van Deusen | Extensive Reading and Task-basedLearning

Presenting on Extensive Reading
and Task-based Learning
This month we moved the venue from Nagasaki City up to Sasebo and Nagasaki International University for a presentation by Brendan Van Deusen. He took us through the concepts of using Extensive Reading and Task-based learning for the focus of this talk. The details of the presentation/workshop as well as the announcements made at the meeting are contained in these minutes.

First we began by discussing our own usage of Extensive Reading in the classroom. There were some attendees who had experience making use of ER to various degrees as well as some attendees who hadn't made much use of the facility.

What is Extensive Reading?

We began by throwing out our own definition of ER. Participants came up with some of the following ideas:

Brendan Van Deusen of
Nagasaki International University
Extensive Reading is:
  • Reading lots.
  • Reading with a plan.
  • Putting vocabulary in context for learning
Brendan focused us using the definition found in his research:
  • Reading simplified materials for pleasure and knowledge.
He also followed up with the 3 types of ER commonly identified in the field:
  1. Pure; student choice; tasks rarely used
  2. Integrated; variable choice; tasks used
  3. Class (Waring 2010;2011)
Next we covered some of the benefits of using tasks with ER.
  • Tasks balance the learing process (Day and Bamford, 1998)
  • Tasks develop core competencies (Green, 2005)
  • Class reading creates an alternate... (missing note here)

Brendan also pointed out that in only one instance did someone rail against the idea of using task-based activities in the ER context simply because the researcher (citation needed) determined that tasks take away from the purity of ER.

What are some examples of tasks for ER?
  1. Reading circles, conversation-based
  2. Writing tasks
  3. Project based
What are some key elements of task design? (Ellis, 2003)
  1. Goal: Purpose of the task
  2. Input: Materials, medium, distribution of information
  3. Conditions: Groupings, time, environment
  4. Procedures: Steps to complete the task
  5. Process outcome: How students accomplish the task
  6. Product outcome: What students produce

In the end of the first session, we spent time brainstorming ideas for making tasks associated with various examples of ER books. Each team came up with good ideas for projects surrounding a book they chose.

In the 2nd half of the meeting we covered Task Evaluation:
Brendan directed us to the three phases of Task Evaluation.
  • Pre - Planning
  • During - Interactive
  • Post - Evaluative
One important discussion point that came up during this phase of the workshop is that evaluation of the task itself is separate from evaluation of the students' performance of the task - and that both aspects of the evaluation have importance. The ensuing discussion included thoughts on how to guide students through various tasks and how to prepare for the different issues that might come up as a result during the execution of a task.

After, Brendan took us through a case study of using Task-based learning in an Extensive Reading context with one of his classes at NIU.
  • Class - 1st year English Exercises
  • 29 students, 14 males 15 females
  • Major: International Tourism
  • ER Book: The Mysterious Island - Jules Verne
    • Rationale: Student self-identification: Level 2 or above
    • Familiar premise: five people stranded on an island
The students were assigned 5 tasks which included:
  1. Reading Time/Discussion circle: discuss the main points of the day's reading
  2. Island life: predict challenges faced by characters. Discuss and justify
  3. Island writing: write in role - letter, journal, comic, or picture book (invent content based on what you've seen)
  4. Frozen picture: physical-ize one moment from the story. Groups create a tableau and speak one line each.
  5. Final project: creative expansion on the story. Make a tourist brochure for the island.
There were 6 classes for the project. Brendan then covered the evaluation of his task including the success and the failure in each aspect of the tasks assigned to students. Overall it was very enlightening and helped to generate a lot of ideas surrounding the use of Tasks in an Extensive Reading environment.

----- Nagasaki JALT Announcements -----

PanSIG Preregistration Deadline is Sunday, April 20th. Don't forget!

Meeting attendees: 5
JALT Members: 5
Non-JALT: 0

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