Developing the narrative text writing capacity of junior high school students through the experiential activities to collect the writing materials

Abstract. Writing is an experienced process. However, at present, the capacity for writing narratives of junior high school students is still limited. One of the reasons for this fact is that students do not have profound or practical experience to express their personal feelings so that they can create the materials for their writing. Therefore, in order to develop the students' narrative writing capacity, appropriate, effective and interesting experiential activities should be organized so that they can come up with ideas, and enhance the materials.

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124 HNUE JOURNAL OF SCIENCE DOI: 10.18173/2354-1075.2018-0176 Educational Sciences, 2018, Volume 63, Issue 9, pp. 124-130 This paper is available online at DEVELOPING THE NARRATIVE TEXT WRITING CAPACITY OF JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS THROUGH THE EXPERIENTIAL ACTIVITIES TO COLLECT THE WRITING MATERIALS Le Thi Minh Nguyet and Le Hoai Quan Faculty of Philology, Hanoi National University of Education Abstract. Writing is an experienced process. However, at present, the capacity for writing narratives of junior high school students is still limited. One of the reasons for this fact is that students do not have profound or practical experience to express their personal feelings so that they can create the materials for their writing. Therefore, in order to develop the students' narrative writing capacity, appropriate, effective and interesting experiential activities should be organized so that they can come up with ideas, and enhance the materials. Keywords: Writing ability, experiential activity, narrative. 1. Introduction In the Vietnamese Junior High School’s Literature curriculum, narrative writing is crucially taught in grades 6, 8, 9. However, teaching writing in general and teaching writing narratives in particular is a challenge for both teachers and students. The quality of the students’ narrative writing is also limited. One of the reasons for this fact is that students do not have profound or practical experience to express their personal feelings so that they can create the materials for their writing. Therefore, in order to develop the students' narrative writing capacity, appropriate, effective and interesting experiential activities should be organized so that they can come up with ideas, and enhance the materials. In other countries, according to the new approach, many researchers have argued that in order to develop writing capacity for learners, writing is a complex process of thinking. Don Muray (1972) pointed out that writing is a process, not a product in the book The Essential Don Muray: Lessons from America's greatest writing teacher. This view was also shared by other researchers, such as Nunan (1991), Stanley (1993), Hyland (2003). In some of the textbooks of the United States, students are also taught to write in steps: before writing, writing, editing, publishing. At present, in Vietnam, few researchers are interested in developing writing competencies for students. The authors Nguyen Thi Hong Nam, Tran Nguyen Huong Thao (2017), in his essay Process-based Teaching of Text Received September 8, 2018. Revised November 24, 2018. Accepted November 30, 2018. Contact Le Thi Minh Nguyet, e-mail address: nguyetltm@hnue.edu.vn Developing the narrative text writing capacity of junior high school students through 125 Composition: Empirical Lessons for Teaching Text Composition in Vietnam [6] analyzed teaching experience in some countries: writing is a process, not in a straight line, consisting of several stages. Phan Thi Hong Xuan (2017), in her article A Design of Literature Lessons in Textbooks for Developing Writing Skills of Secondary School Students [7] proposed the design of writing lessons on a process with specific examples. Regarding the organization of experiential learning in general, there are many works that have been studied quite thoroughly in both theory and practice. However, the study of experiential activities in literacy teaching in high school has only initiated. The textbook Practice of Teaching Literature in High School [5] has a module of creative experiential activities in the subject of Literature. But in this module, the authors only feature the characteristics of creative experiential activities beyond the classroom hours in Literature. 2. Content 2.1. Experimental activities in teaching writing in high school It can be said that the idea of education through experience has emerged from ancient times and later developed into a theory when associated with names such as Lev Vygotsky, Z.K. Lewin, John Dewey, David Kolb, etc. There are different perspectives on experiential activities in education, but those concepts have a common ground in asserting that the experiential activities are attached to reality and that learners are the subject of work. Through the discovery, searching, solving the authentic problems, learners acquire themselves, gaining knowledge and skills to complete themselves. In the General Education Curriculum (2017), the “Experiential Activities” is a new learning content, compulsory from grade 1 to grade 12. In this article, we think that the experiential activities is an educational activity whose contents and activities create conditions for each individual student to mobilize available experiences, directly participate in activities; so that students will have new experiences, and will be able to form and develop their own capacity and qualities. The experiential activities may be an extracurricular activity or held in the duration of teaching of a particular subject, lessons in the classroom. Writing is one of the important competencies that the subject of Literature needs to develop for students. Author Phan Thi Hong Xuan defined the writing capacity: “Ability to write is comprehended as the ability to create a complete written text on the content and form, expressed through the way of properly written and meaningful text for the purposes of communication. Writing power consists of the main elements of knowledge, skills and attitudes of learners to create a written text” [7, 207]. Thus, based on the components of capacity, some writers defined writing as writing strategies; writing skills; ability to perform tasks written in different communication situations. These elements, however, are only superficial ones of the writing capacity because the composition of the text expresses the synthesis of living experiences, the literary and the intellectual capacity and language ability of the students. Teaching experiential writing is the activity of teaching writing that is organized around the individual experiences of students. Teachers should organize the experiential activities to find materials for the narrative writing, since then students can experience the preparation stages before writing: collecting material for the essay from the experiences, feelings, understanding of each child. Le Thi Minh Nguyet and Le Hoai Quan 126 2.2. Enjoyment and reality of junior high school writing from the perspective of experiential activity To assess the interest and the reality of creating the narrative text of students in high school, we surveyed 87 students in grade 9 in 2 secondary schools in Hanoi. The results are as follows: No. Survey Results Result Ratio 1 1. How do you feel about writing a narrative? A. Very difficult 12/87 (13,8%) B. Difficult 52/87 (59,7%) C.Normal 23/87 (26,4%) 2 2. When learning the narrative writing in class, I found A. Very excited 0/87 (0%) B. Excited 16/87 (18,3%) C. Normal 46/87 (52,8%) D. Boring 22/87 (25,2%) 3 3. During the study of writing, did the teacher assist the children in the writing process (as they were looking for ideas, ideas, expressions together with their students) A. Frequently 16/87 (18,3%) B. Sometimes 70/87 (80,4%) 4 4. Have you been involved in experiential activities to gather ideas before writing a narrative? A. Frequently 0/87 (0%) B. Sometimes 43/87 (49,4%) C. Never 42/87 (48,2%) Many junior high school students say they are not interested in self-studying (68%), creating narrative texts difficult (64%). During the course of study, students rarely participate in experiential activities to collect material for the essay (85%). Students did not receive much support from teachers during writing periods (80.4%). In addition, we have evaluated the narrative capacity of 80 students in the 8th grade through specific papers (Title: Let's recount a memorable experience). The results showed that the content of the article is very poor, sketchy, little critical individual thought. Although many of the articles of the experiential activities still ensure the elements of narrative such as the story content, the characters ... but their separate practical experience doesn’t exist in the writing. Many young people insist on telling the story of small, fragmentary issues or events only. Some children just recite their work without explaining why this is a "memorable experience". Thus, one of the reasons that the quality of the narrative text is not high is because the students’ writing lacks students’ personal experiences. Developing the narrative text writing capacity of junior high school students through 127 2.3. Guiding students to find material for the narrative through experiential activities 2.3.1. Finding material for the narrative by asking questions To assist the student in mobilizing the personal experience available to find the ideas, to find the material for the narrative, teachers can use different teaching techniques. 5W1H is the technique used in the reading and writing process of the teaching to help students answer the six types of questions to understand more about the research problem. This teaching technique instructs the students to visualize what has happened, to elicit the experiences of the learner. Specifically, the questions are as follows: What happened?, Who was there?, Why did it happen?, When did it happen?, Where did it happen?, How did it happen?. For example: In the "Giving the Outline for Narrative Writing, combined with Descriptive and Expressive Writing" (Grade 8), the task is "Outline the topic: Let's recount a celebration with your childhood friend which makes you touched and remember forever". Before the students outline the article, teachers can distribute the study worksheet to the children for ideas for the article from the 5W1H technique as follows: Worksheet Full name: .... Class:... Task: Collecting the ideas “Let’s recount a celebration with your childhood friend which makes you touched and remember forever " by answering the questions in the table below: 1. Who do you want to talk about? 2. What happened between you and your friend? 3. Where did that happen? 4. When did that happen? 5. Why did that childhood memory touch you? 2.3.2. Find the material for the narrative by applying the write freely strategy In order to create narrative texts, the teacher can instruct the students to find ideas for the article by imagining and writing freely. With the title: Tell a story about a beloved person, or "He is forever in me", instruct the students in grades 6 or 8, 9 to collect materials for the article by recording their ideas on the following worksheet. The following is the character network diagram for students to mobilize their experience, feelings: Le Thi Minh Nguyet and Le Hoai Quan 128 Write freely Full name: .................. .. Class: ........................ .. Task: Please write freely according to the diagram below to find ideas for the text: "He is forever in me". His appearance: His personality: His words I still remember: Your feelings and thoughts about himvề người ấy: .. In addition, to help students find ideas by writing freely, teachers can also teach students to use their mind map to list all their ideas before creating narrative text. For example: When instructing students to find ideas for the text: "Tell me about what you have done to make your parents happy", Teacher asks students: Close your eyes, think about something you did in the past to please your parents. Imagine your story. You can use the mind map to record all the thoughts that appear in your mind, even if only briefly. 2.3.3. Finding the material for the narrative with the diary of recording experiences Human beings experience the history of human society and the surrounding world in many different ways. However, there are experiences that can only be experienced through practical experience. In writing the narrative, the narratives of a memorable memory, pet, friendship, family, trip ... are only really well written if students have profound experiences on those topics. Learning through experiences is the process by which the learner carries out the process of mobilizing, organizing, and restructure existing experiences that have been experienced by learners to create new knowledge and values. With the subject "The one in me", teachers can guide the students to prepare for the article by mobilizing the experience available in the children’s mind. Before writing, teachers should spend time for students to experience, feel the theme and prepare for the article. Teacher can suggest some tasks for the students to mobilize materials to do as follows: - If possible, meet the one you want to talk with. When you meet the one to recount the memory between you and him/her, you: + Observe and record the characteristics of the person (face, eyes, smile, body ...) + Interviews (About his/her hobbies, jobs ...) + Ask about the unforgettable memories between you and the person (memories where, when, feelings of the person at the event). + Find the memories between the two (photos, some gifts ...) and record your feelings when reviewing those memoirs. Teachers can support the experience and recording process of the students by worksheet. The following is a suggestion for a worksheet for students in the recording process. My beloved person is:. Developing the narrative text writing capacity of junior high school students through 129 Your diary of recording experiences Full name: ..................... Class: .............................. 1. The person you want to talk about is: 2. I met that person again at ..................., Location ......... 3. The characteristics of that person: 4. I interviewed him/her a few things:.. 5. I asked for profound memories between you and him. In his eyes, the memory is:. 6. The things that you keep in the memories between you and that person are:. 7. Your feelings when meeting the person you want to say is: Experience diary is used in the pre-writing phase. However, teachers should instruct students to record diary experiences regularly to accumulate experience and "live more profoundly", which is also a skill for writing. The writing capacity of students will be increased gradually. 2.3.4. Collecting materials for narrative writing through field trips Having a picnic or going on an excursion is a form of authentic learning which is attractive to students. The purpose of the visit, picnic is to supply student with knowledge, and give them information about historical relics, culture, works, factories ... which is unknown to them before, to help them gain practical experiences, which can be applied to their lives. With the narrative theme "Write about an interesting trip or a social activity of yours", before the students write about the trip, the school and teachers need to organize a field trip for the students so that they can experience and write about that trip. Activities of excursions, picnics are usually organized according to the following steps: Developing the plan of the visit, picnic; Preparing, sharing general information about the trip; Sightseeing experience, picnic; Having students write the reports. In order to give students written materials to recite a trip or a social activity, teachers can create a record of experience to attract the students. Below is a record of the experience of students in grades 8, 9 during the visit to Bat Trang pottery village, Hanoi: Record of experience Full name: .................. .. ...... Class: ........................... .. 1. Where does the trip take place ? What time? Is there anyone involved? 2. What are the main activities of the trip? .. 3. What is your impression on the trip? Why?............................................................... 4. Observe and briefly describe Bat Trang pottery village or pottery making process:....... 5. Write down some words describing your feelings during the trip:. 6. Something you want to write about your trip:.. 3. Conclusion The capacity of writing in general and writing the narrative in particular of students in schools is still limited. Many students are not interested in writing, even only copying Le Thi Minh Nguyet and Le Hoai Quan 130 from the source of the sample. One of the reasons for this situation is because the concept and teaching methods in the school is not appropriate. It can be said that each individual is a subject with a specific characteristics of personality, capacity, quality, excitement. In teaching, the teacher must have suitable methods which can be applied for each individual student rather than a large number of students. Creating text is an experience. Thus, in the teaching of narrative writing, teachers need to respect and elicit in the students their own experiences and feelings; instruct the students to distill the experience they have to create the material for the article. Narrative, in a sense, is a portrait of the writer himself. If they consider the writing the portrait of themselves, then they will be enthusiastic and engaged, excited in writing and the writing is now of their own, not any one’s else. Only then will the student's writing capacity be developed. REFERENCES [1] Ministry of Education and Training, 2018. Draft curriculum for general education in Literature. [2] Ministry of Education and Training, 2006. Literature 8 (Volume 1). Education Publishing House. [3] Ministry of Education and Training, 2015. 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