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FORECASTING CONTINUOUS WRITING QUESTIONS IN SPM 1119 2019: AN INSIGHT

October 27, 2019

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LDP VSS C: A TOOL TO COACH INTERMEDIATE ESL LEARNERS TO WRITE A BETTER SUMMARY

 

 

Good or excellent ESL learners have no or little problem to rewrite the content points for their summary. HOWEVER, MOST INTERMEDIATE OR AVERAGE LEARNERS ALWAYS HAVE PROBLEMS WHEN IT COMES TO REWRITING THE CONTENT POINT USING THEIR OWN WORDS.  As ESL teachers, how do you assist and coach your average learners to rewrite the summary points? In this write-up, I will share a tool which I have been applying for years to coach my average learners to write a better summary. It is called LDP VSS C. The acronym stands for:

 

 

L – USE LINKERS / CONNECTORS

D – DELETE IRRELEVANT PARTS / DETAILS

P – USE PRONOUN / NAME

 

V – CHANGE VERB FORM

S – USE SYNONYM

S – SEPARATE TWO OR THREE JOINED CONTENT POINTS

 

C – COMBINE TWO SEPARATE CONTENT POINTS

 

 

Most of the intermediate learners are able to identify the summary points. Nevertheless, if they are not guided well, they would simply copy the exact sentences in the text to present their summary points. As we know, if this happens, they may get a low language mark for their inability to use own words. Therefore, intermediate learners should be encouraged to summarize their content points using LDP VSS C, a tool which I believe they can handle. To further understand LDP VSS C, let us look at the passage in the Appendix and then study its summary question.

 

Examples of summary points using LDP VSS C:

 

EXAMPLE 1:

 

Original sentence/s in the text:

 

He immediately called the teachers together.

 

Own words:

 

He instantly called the teachers together.

 

Tool/s used to write own words:

  1. S – USE SYNONYM

 

EXAMPLE 2:

 

Original sentence/s in the text:

 

Extracurricular activities like sports, clubs and dances would become privileges and they would be withdrawn for bad behaviour.

 

Own words:

 

Next, extracurricular activities (deleted details) would become privileges. (separation) The privileges would be withdrawn for bad behavior

 

Tool/s used to write own words:

  1. L – USE LINKERS / CONNECTORS

  2. D – DELETE IRRELEVANT PARTS / DETAILS

  3. S – SEPARATE TWO OR THREE JOINED CONTENT POINTS

 

EXAMPLE 3:

 

Original sentence/s in the text:

 

Spence bombarded his students with the reality of their performance: scores below city and provincial averages in maths, reading and writing; one of the worst reputations for violence; and hundreds of suspensions and more than 3000 late arrivals registered the previous year.

 

Own words:

 

Next, he bombarded his students with the reality of their performance. (deleted details)

 

Tool/s used to write own words:

  1. L – USE LINKERS / CONNECTORS

  2. D – DELETE IRRELEVANT PARTS / DETAILS

  3. P – USE PRONOUN / NAME

 

EXAMPLE 4:

 

Original sentence/s in the text:

 

Spence also put uniforms on agenda for the year’s first parent-teacher meeting. “Competition between children who can afford the latest fashions and those who can’t is unhealthy,” Spence said. “I’m suggesting white shirts and black bottoms.” The parents voted 96 per cent in favour.

Spence encouraged teachers to offer students appealing extracurricular activities. Soon the hallways echoed with Hindi music as sari-clad girls of Indian descent practised traditional dance, while others learned African drumming for the school’s annual cultural showcases.

 

Own words:

 

Moreover, he also put uniforms on agenda for the year’s first parent-teacher meeting and (combined point) encouraged teachers to offer students appealing co-curricular activities.

 

Tool/s used to write own words:

  1. L – USE LINKERS / CONNECTORS

  2. P – USE PRONOUN / NAME

  3. C – COMBINE TWO SEPARATE CONTENT POINTS

 

EXAMPLE 5:

 

Original sentence/s in the text:

 

Spence would always act swiftly at the first sign of confrontation

 

Own words:

 

In addition, he acted swiftly at the first sign of confrontation.

 

Tool/s used to write own words:

  1. L – USE LINKERS / CONNECTORS

  2. P – USE PRONOUN / NAME

  3. V – CHANGE VERB FORM

 

CONCLUSION

 

I have noticed that some intermediate learners write a poor summary. Mostly, they simply copy the exact sentences found in the passage. Whose fault is it? I am sorry for saying this but it is the fault of their English teacher. It is not my intention to highlight the flaw of certain ESL teachers but this sad reality has to be mentioned. I am truly concerned about some average learners who blindly complete their summary task. I ALWAYS BELIEVE THAT LEARNERS, NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE, IF GUIDED EFFECTIVELY BY THEIR ESL TEACHERS, WILL AND CAN PERFORM BETTER, IN SHAA ALLAH. The same thing goes for summary writing; if intermediate learners are coached properly how to use own words or paraphrase, they will be able to do so sooner or later; INTERMEDIATE LEARNERS WILL BE ABLE TO MAXIMIZE THEIR OWN ABILITY TO WRITE A BETTER SUMMARY. It is my ultimate hope that this shared LDP VSS C will be helpful to those teachers who need it.

 

 

 

 

Obviously there are different ways to coach and guide learners to rewrite their summary content points. LDP VSS C is just an option. In implementing this technique, teachers need to caution learners when synonym is used. Learners must be 100% sure of the synonym to be used in their summary. If they have any doubt about the synonym, learners must be strongly advised to abort the idea of using synonym. If the synonym is used wrongly they do not only lose their content point (if the meaning has changed) but also their language mark can be affected too.

 

Knowing the language ability of intermediate learners, I purposely do not encourage them to restructure the original sentence to summarise the content point. Restructuring ideas in a sentence such as below is another way to promote own words but it is very risky for average learners:

 

Original sentence:

 

He designated separate stairways to keep the older children from picking on younger ones.

 

Own words (by restructuring the sentence):

 

To prevent older children from picking on the younger ones, stairways were separated by Spencer.

 

LDP VSS C offers very simple ways to rewrite the summary points using own words. They are NOT AMBITIOUS. Remember, this technique is designed for INTERMEDIATE OR AVERAGE, not excellent learners. I would consider the suggested ways; LDP VSS C, are safe for intermediate learners. Meaning can hardly change if the ways are applied with care. The point is, by applying LDP VSS C, total lifting or copying of original sentences can be avoided. In other words, using own words can be promoted significantly in rewriting the content points. Perhaps, once average learners have mastered LDP VSS C, other challenging strategies or techniques to summarise can be introduced to them. Hopefully the language quality in their summary will enhance further, in shaa Allah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                    APPENDIX

 

COMPLETE PASSAGE FOR REFERENCE:

 

(The underlined sentences indicate the sentences taken to exemplify some of the summary content points).

 

 

On his first tour of Lawrence Heights Middle School, Chris Spence was led past bulletin boards in hallways scribbled with graffiti. Peering into the library, he saw kids with their feet on the tables throwing books out the window. It was June 1997, and Lawrence Heights in Toronto, Canada was looking for a new vice principal. The 35-year-old spoke with some of the staff, who told of student frequent rampages. Police had been called in to break up fights. But Spence eagerly took the job; Lawrence Heights was exactly what he was looking for.

 

 

At Lawrence Heights, 87 percent of students or their parents are immigrants from some 31 countries; 24 languages are spoken in the halls. Parents who could sent their children to schools elsewhere. During his first year at Lawrence Heights, Spence spent most of his time on discipline rather than the issues he considered paramount: abysmal grades and low attendance. Lawrence Heights excelled at only one thing: sports. The school was renowned for its outstanding teams, especially basketball.

 

 

In May 1998, the end of Spence’s first year as Lawrence Heights vice principal, the principal was transferred and Spence took over. He immediately called the teachers together. “We’re going to make every student and teacher proud of Lawrence Heights,” he told them, “but I need your ideas.” He was greeted with enthusiasm. “How about letting my students paint murals on the walls and lockers during summer?” art teacher Zelia Tavers suggested. “Great idea.” Spence replied. “We’ll let the kids choose the designs.”

 

 

That summer, as youngsters transformed the school with multicultural murals and positive slogans, Spence laid plans. “There is too much fear and intimidation,” he told the students. “For a start, I will not tolerate fighting.” Extracurricular activities like sports, clubs and dances would become privileges and they would be withdrawn for bad behaviour.

 

 

At the “new” Lawrence Heights, top students would receive medals at monthly assemblies. Spence bombarded his students with the reality of their performance: scores below city and provincial averages in maths, reading and writing; one of the worst reputations for violence; and hundreds of suspensions and more than 3000 late arrivals registered the previous year.

 

 

“In the real world, lateness is a prime reason for being fired,” he explained, “so most of you couldn’t even hold a job.” School would now be their job. “Each student will sign a contract vowing to be on time, do their homework and be respectful. Spence also put uniforms on agenda for the year’s first parent-teacher meeting. “Competition between children who can afford the latest fashions and those who can’t is unhealthy,” Spence said. “I’m suggesting white shirts and black bottoms.” The parents voted 96 per cent in favour.

 

 

Spence encouraged teachers to offer students appealing extracurricular activities. Soon the hallways echoed with Hindi music as sari-clad girls of Indian descent practised traditional dance, while others learned African drumming for the school’s annual cultural showcases.

 

 

Ending violence remained Spence’s first mission. He designated separate stairways to keep the older children from picking on younger ones. He singled out students who caused problems for others and spent time with them. “My door is always open,” he told them. Spence would always act swiftly at the first sign of confrontation. He immediately suspended the students involved from sports and extracurricular activities. But most effective were the Friday assemblies called Name and Shame. They started on a positive note. “Give yourselves a hand,” Spence would say after announcing the week’s achievements. But then he would single out anyone involved in brawls. Soon, fights became rare. Gradually, by Christmas 1999, suspensions and late arrivals plummeted.

 

 

“What we’re going through is not rocket science,” Spencer says to his students. “We’re just creating a positive learning environment for you.” Sports can be a valuable tool, he believes. “But you still need another career. And that starts in the classroom.”

 

 

                                                           (Adapted from Reader’s Digest January, 2002)

 

 

Based on the passage given, write a summary on what Spence did to bring positive changes at Lawrence Heights Middle School

 

Credit will be given for use of own words but care must be taken not to change the original meaning.

 

Your summary must

 

  • be in continuous writing (not in note form)

  • use materials from lines 15 – 52

  • not be longer than 130 words, including the 10 words given below

 

Begin your summary as follows:

 

When Chris Spence became the principal at Lawrence Heights, he  ...

 

                                                                                                                                         [15 marks]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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