Overall Introduction: Observation, description
language, research, critical thinking, and computer skills can be developed
at the same time by using this hands-on four/five module approach to discovering
the Internet. This is a module I used with 15-16 year old students with 4
years of English as a Foreign Language at the Franco-Brazilian school in São
Paulo, Brazil. You can find examples of students' final essay at: http://the_english_dept.tripod.com/descex1.html
Intermediate and above.
4 to 5 (50/60 minute) classes + 4 pieces of homework.
Observing/ Describing/ Concluding from Data / Evaluating /Giving Opinions/Writing
requirements: students should have access to computers connected
to the Internet to do their homework and computer will be needed during the
two final classes. An OHP projector would be useful to project the pictures
should know the basics of how to type an address (url) on a browser and find
a site on the net.
1 (50 minutes)
revise) prepositions and perspective (at the top, at the bottom, in the middle,
on the right, on the left, in the top left hand corner, in the bottom right
hand corner, below, above, the background, the foreground, the focus, there
is/there are), etc
for following classes
/coloured chalk or OHP / transparency.
paper or transparency to be projected) with elements to illustrate the different
concepts above (see example).
Copies of homework
questions (below) to hand out to stds.
Example of Pictures to project and questions the teacher can ask
(click on thumbnails for the larger version)
of document is this? What is the layout of this picture (What does this
picture show, what are the main elements? What are the main colours
you notice?)What is the focus of the picture? Where are the Indian and
his family standing? Where is the man standing? Where is his son? Where
is the woman sitting? Where is the dog? What are they looking at? What
can you see in the middle ground/ background? Where is the dam? Where
is the river? Where are the eagles flying?
this picture show? What are the main colours? Are there any armchairs?
Are they in the background or in the foreground? What is the focus of
the picture? What can you find above the mantelpiece? Where is the coffee
table? Where are the television and the lamp? Where is the book? Where
can you find a second painting?
about picture so that stds have to locate the different elements using the
vocabulary being taught/revised (first single sentences). Eg.: The woman is
sitting ON a horse. You can find a painting ABOVE the mantelpiece.
to note down the answers as they progress so as to have all the elements.
stds to try and describe the picture orally. (using several sentences to form
a connected paragraph)
Comment on the
different orals and the organization of the description
what can to be used to make a successful description and what steps should
be taken (organization, layout, colours, sounds, etc point of view)
Give them a
gapped exercise to complete so that they remember the sequence in a paragraph.
Ask them to
compose a similar paragraph for the other picture.
1 - The computer I usually use is:
a) my own
b) my family's
c) at school/at the office
d) my friend's
2 - What type of connection do you have to the Internet?
a) Dial-in access: modem speed (circle one of them) :
2400 ---- 9600 ---- 14.4 ---- 28.8 ---- 3.6 ----56k
b) Direct connection (circle one of them) :
56K -------- T1 ---------- T3
3 - What Web browser are you using?
4 - What is the URL of the Web page you are evaluating?
5 - What is the name of the site?
6 - Does the page take a long time to load? YES / NO
7 - What is the name of the page and what is its function?
8 - What is the layout of the page and what are the main colours?
9 - Are there any pictures on the page? YES/NO
10 - Are the pictures on the page helpful - do they relate to the content?YES/NO
11 - Is each section of the page labeled with a heading? YES / NO
12- Did the author sign his/her real name? YES / NO
13 - Did the author give you his/her e-mail address? YES / NO
14 - Is there a date on the page that tells you when it was last updated?YES
15 - Can you communicate your ideas/suggestions/comments? YES/NO
16- Is there navigation bar on the page or a scroll/pull- down menu? YES /
17 - Is there a table (columns of text) on the page? YES / NO
(you may want to view the source of the page)
18 - If so, is the table readable with your browser? YES / NO
19 - Are there any more pages in this site? Which are they?
20 - If you go to another page on the site, can you get back to the main page?
YES / NO
21 - Note down the different points and be prepared to say what your first
impression of the site was and what problems you have encountered.
Check the students'
knowledge of computer skills and jargon and their initiative.
List the problems
that may have occurred and work out solutions.
draw conclusions with students on what should (not) be done. Revise short
Copies of 2nd
set of questions for homework to be distributed.
Fire the questions
at the students asking them to answer using short answers.
Get them in
groups to discuss the problems they have found and ask each group to make
a short report.
on this particular class (teenagers)
After a week
about half the class had not done their work at all or had it incomplete.
this had nothing related to English or could not see any relation between
what he had done in class and the homework they had been assigned. As I'm
not the computer geek, they did not feel/ understand how the questionnaire
had anything to do with the language class.
they had a slow connection and could not finish it as it took them very
long and they had to go to bed. (they confessed they had tried to do it
the evening before the class)
Some said they
did not have a computer at home or that the parents complained about the
time they spent on it. (here many computers have a dial-up connection so
each second is expensive)
Some said they
did not know or remember what certain words meant (dial up connection/ layout/browser/
Some had copied
the answers from others
I asked the
students who had managed to complete the questionnaire to explain what they
had done to find the answers and we wrote their suggestions on the board
homework well-ahead - never leave it for the last minute, specially when
you have to rely on the Net - which can be an extremely quick searcher but
fails doing so when you have connection/computer problems.
hours - rush hour (introduction and explanation of new vocabulary)
Try to use
the computers in the school library (again - plan ahead because they are
slow and many people want to use them)
Load the page
and work offline. Save your page and work some other time when the computer
at home is not needed.
As for the
unknown words, the question was where's your initiative? What could
you have done in order to solve this problem? (use a dictionary, call a
friend, ask the teacher)
the answers and I also pointed out why I had given them such an assignment
and told them that at this stage I was not really interested in the answers/results
they had produced but in the process they had used, the steps they had taken
to get there and what conclusion they had reached. So those who had copied
from others had not learnt much because they had focused on the result only.
I asked them to think carefully about it and in their way of proceeding.
Comment on information
reliability and point out what stds have to pay attention to.
Copies of writing
task (for homework below)
to present orally their work in front.
Note down impressions
and mistakes on paper.
Ask person concerned
and the others to comment on the performance: good points and others to be
(reading, not looking at the public, hesitating, repeating the same expressions
all the time, poor vocabulary, lack of organization and put grammar mistakes
on the board so as to have stds correct them)
of organization (compare it to designing a web page, which follows more or
less the same process)
source (what kind of document it is/who by/what for/date of publication)
from most general (layout/background colour and colours of headings/text and
links) and work down to details commenting on usefulness or impact on the
site from the point of view of reliability of content explaining what points
to take into account.
your opinion and reasons for liking/disliking it and commenting on sites you
are fond of/dislike.
(go back to the top)
about a Page - World Wide Web Page Description
(This writing lesson was taken from Alphabet Superhighway http://www.ash.udel.edu)
students' knowledge and acquired skills from oral to written register.
of ideas and vocabulary.
Give well founded
arguments to say why they liked it or not.
Print the following
instructions and make copies for the students.
Find a WWW Page
you like, describe it, and try to figure out why the designers made it look
like it does.
World Wide Web browser window. If you do not know how to do this, just copy
these directions down, so that when you go looking for a web page to write
about, you can still refer to these directions.
Now, try to
find a Web Page that you find interesting or fun. You may want to find a Web
Page devoted to a topic in which you are interested.
Once you have
found an interesting Web Page, start listing all the things the Web page has
What is the
Web Page's location (its address or URL)? Every Web Page has an address, usually
listed at the top of your Web Browser. This address is also known as the URL
(Universal Resource Locator). The URL for the Alphabet Superhighway, for example,
Are there any
images, graphics, or pictures on the page? How many?
Do they appear
to be for kids, adults, or some specific age group? How can you tell?
Do they have
anything to do with what the page is about? Are they pictures or computer
drawings? How can you tell?
Is there a background
image (an image behind all the graphics and text on the screen)?
does the page have on it?
Is the information
on the page separated into sections?
Is the text
all one font (the style of lettering) or all one size? What different fonts,
type sizes, or type styles are used?
You can either
write down this information on a separate sheet of paper or list the information
in your word processor (if you are using one).
Make sure you have your list of descriptions of the Web Page.
2. If possible, have the Web Page up in a window for you to refer to when
you are writing.
3. Organize your description units.
4. Write an essay describing the Web Page, stating whether or not you think
the Web Page is effective. In other words, does it do what you think it
should be doing?
5. Identify the document and be sure to include the URL in the description.
6. Have the essay follow the outline of your observations.
7. Does the Web Page present information you can use?
8. How easy was it to find the Page?
9. Was the page easy to use (follow links to other pages, or find information,
10. What type of people do you think would find the page useful (ages, professions,
(go back to the top)