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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Improving children's writing skills through digital story prompts and feedback

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good afternoon now you've got plenty of

space if you like to spread out that's

fine if you want to come a bit closer

there are chairs here as well ok so my

name is Ben Knight I work at Cambridge

University Press

before I hand over to Cynthia who's

going to talk about her project I just

wanted to put a bit of context around

the project teachers naturally reflect

on their teaching thinking about what

works and what doesn't work why would

they spend time taking that reflection

to a deeper level to create a mini

research project instead of just

thinking and talking about it well we've

looked at research around the world

and experience around the world and

these teacher research projects have a

big impact on the teachers own

professional development and they also

have a great use to the institution

itself because the institution gets

research and insight which is tailored

to its own context and for this reason

we have tried to support teacher

research projects around the world for a

number of years now we've supported five

teacher research projects each year and

what we do is we provide financial

support and expert advice from

professionals such as Simon Borg leading

academics in this in this field and we

invite applications from teachers around

the world through our website and we

choose five of the most promising

projects each year and support them in

this way and then from those five

projects we choose one project for to

give a presentation at a TEFL

such as Cynthia this year now for the

current year we're choosing five

projects on a theme of blended learning

and that'll be to support throughout the

year and to choose one of those five

projects to present at next year's ayรขt

Ethel and we support response to the

speaker for next year's diet Ethel now

we have actually finished and chosen all

those five projects but for a TEFL we

have created one extra space for an

additional research project and if you

are interested in getting cambridge

support for your own teachers teacher

research project you can go to the

website cambridge dot org slash trp

that's teacher research project and you

can fill in the application and if yours

is the most promising we will add you to

the list of projects I've also left or

given to you a sheet about other

research projects that we're doing at

Cambridge University Press

and which you can have an opportunity to

participate in so please have a look at

that and if you're interested in any of

those have any questions contact me

using the email address there okay so

now I'm going to hand over to Cynthia

who's going to talk about the research

project that she undertook in Malaysia I

just wanted to say as proof of the

benefit of teacher research Cynthia has

now been promoted from teaching to

supervising English language programs at

primary level in her region of Malaysia

so there's evidence that it helps your

career progression

let me pass over to Cynthia

oh hello good afternoon

thanks for coming Thank You Ben for

introducing me I would like to take this

opportunity to thank canvas University

Press for the support and for this

amazing opportunity so what I'm gonna do

today is I'm gonna share with you my

story the things that I did with my

students in the classroom in this

program as well as the the things that

we learned throughout the process and so

I'll start with sharing with you some

background information about my school

good ol national primary school is the

school that I teach it is in Kota

Kinabalu district court opinion below

city is the capital city of Sabah in

Malaysia we currently have 500 students

and in 35 teachers and for this program

I had chosen 31 students in my year 6

class there are 11 to 12 years old and

they come from middle to low income

families and their level is upper

elementary primary school achievement

test or better known among Malaysian

teachers and students by its acronym in

Malay ups our is a compulsory national

test which all Malaysian students would

have to sit for by the end of their six

year of primary schooling and English is

one of the compulsory subjects so

according to my students per Section C

which is the writing part is the most

challenging section in the English paper

so the maximum score for this section is

15 but in the practice test that we did

in the class most of my students were

only able to get on to the three marks

so this is an example of section C so in

the paper there are three or four more

boxes just like this pictures with some

words underneath the guides students to

write a short story of a bow

100 to 150 words and this is the marking

scheme for Section C as you can see

there are four bands and excellent

credit achievement low achievement so

based on my students scores in the

practice test we did most of my students

were in the low achievement level

despite the low scores in the practice

test for Section C I believe that my

students had so much potential to be

good writers I think the greatest

obstacle in them seen progress in the

right thing is their own lack of

interest in writing itself a lot of my

students like the confidence they they

think they believed that writing is

something that is very difficult and

they don't think that they'll be able to

do it well and so I I don't want my

students to associate writing activities

so much associated with so much with

examinations and tests so the purpose of

this project is to explore ways of

making writing a more positive

experience for my students and I aim at

doing that by experimenting with

technology because I noticed that my

students love technology particularly

their smartphones they spend a lot of

time with their smartphones and so I

wanted to utilize this interest to make

writing a more engaging more personal

and more meaningful for my students so I

started teaching in good on in January

last year and prior to that I had taught

in in a smaller school which is located

about 500 kilometers away from the

capital of Sabah and it's a in a quite a

rural area it's in a small village by

the sea and what I thought years six

classes to and but what I noticed about

the students in my former school is that

even though the the precious of and

demands of the examinations with were

there but they went through it with

minimal or no stress at all I think it's

probably the influence of the location

they lived by the Seas or day they had a

lot of opportunities to to escape from

the prejudice of studying an examination

they went swimming in the sea fishing

roaming around the village my students

didn't go down on the other hand a

little bit different they live in a

suburban area and they rarely go out of

the house after school

safely is a big concern and so what what

do they do for fun they they play the

smartphone all the time and so yeah so

one day when I was looking at my

students I remember thinking to myself I

think what my students needed was they

they needed to see I mean I I need to

bring them to the sea I mean there is no

scene in in good and unfortunately and

I'm I could bring them to a trip for a

trip to the sea but but it's going to

cost a lot of money the school doesn't

have a lot of money so I thought if I

couldn't bring my students to the sea

perhaps I could bring the suit to them

through their smartphones so this is

what this project is all about it's

about bringing the joy and enjoyment of

learning through the things that my

students live so while preparing for the

project I did some reading on the

Lockton writers

those studies have shown that students

who are reluctant writers they tend to

avoid the task because they refuse to

deal with mistakes they don't like

making mistakes but instead of working

on getting themselves better they avoid

tasks all together and also um studies

have shown that this reluctance to write

may be influenced by the students past

failures in testan examination which has

resulted in the lack of self-confidence

and so I don't want this to continue I

want my students to see writing as

something that is more positive rather

than associating with examinations and

tests so I did some reading on using

stories if you know this section see I

showed to you just now it is actually

focusing on

testing my students skills in story

writing and so and and the law has been

written about how stories can create a

happy and enjoyable learning environment

for children and stories are great tools

for introducing practicing and improving

language skills and a lot has also been

written about how the using technology

in the teaching of writing can develop

confidence among children and social

media such as whatsapp and dog that I

that I use in this project they are

actually perfect that forms for students

to receive and get feedback on their

writing and if utilized properly I think

this can help students to see writing

something there is some interactive

meaningful and fun and recent studies

have shown that technologies can

encourage critical aberration and

participation and most students as well

as enhance the creativity and

self-expression so this is my plan for

the project I divided the project into

three stages in stage 1 I did some

classroom activities where I introduce

the students to the idea of a story

prompt now what is a story prompt a

story prompt is a is a stimulus it can

be in the form of an image video clip or

a sound clip that the students use to

stir the image imagination and help them

to be more creative in writing a story

I'm going to show you an example of a

story prompt in a moment so in in stage

2 I got my students to to engage

themselves collaboratively to create

their own story problems in small groups

and then in stage 3 the students created

and share their stories through these

two platforms whatsapp group and clicked

on so the data for this project was

gathered through a pretest conducted at

the beginning of the project as well as

a post-test at the end as well as

students written reflections throughout

the project so I'll show you some sample

activities for each stage now let's look

at stage

okay this image here is an example of a

stolen prompt I used this image to

conduct an activity in the class called

a mental picture dictation this was

inspired by an activity in the book

images by Jamie KB so this is how I did

it without showing the picture I

described the picture to my students I

told them that this picture I have

picture here and it was taken at the zoo

there was a little boy sitting on the

chair waiting for his photograph to be

taken by a photographer I didn't say

that it was a panda and the photographer

was from China and he was too short yet

to stand on the chain order to reach the

camera which is on a tripod so I

described it to them and then I asked

him to visualize the image in their

heads and then after that I got them to

sit in small groups and then write a

short paragraph about the picture

without seeing the picture and after

they were done with the right thing

representatives from each group would

share what they had written and then

they would receive a feedback from their

peers and then at the end of a lesson I

revealed the picture and then yeah it's

a panda and my students had a blast out

of it so they loved it so the purpose of

this activity was to train my students

to use the imaginations to be more

creative in their writing okay so this

is a sample activity that I did in stage

2 this is a mini project that my

students did I asked them to go around

the school and capture images around the

school any image with their smartphones

any image that the thing it is

interesting and that can tell a story

and so I gave them a few minutes to do

that and then after they returned to the

classroom I asked them to sit in their

groups and then share the pictures that

they had taken with their smartphones

with the group members and then picked

one just one image that I think was the

most interesting that they could that

could tell a story so this image here

was taken by one of the groups so this

is how he did it in the class the I

asked the groups to to write a caption

for the image that they had taken that

they had picked so probably just one or

two lines or maybe a short paragraph and

then they would read out what they had

written to the class and then asked the

friends to guess what the picture was

and without revealing the picture so

this is the picture and then this is

what the group had written as the

caption for the picture I'm gonna give

you a few moments to read it so what do

you think

and none of none of the students in the

class can guess correctly what the

picture was and actually I was I was

blown away but by the students

creativity that's the name of the

writers they fit coveting and Nadira and

the purpose of this activity was to give

my students the opportunity to

experience writing as something

meaningful and purposeful and also I

wanted my students to know that writing

is something that they can do to impress

an audience they can impress their

friends they can impress the teacher and

they this group had certainly succeeded

in doing that they they managed to

impress their friends and as well as the

teacher through this so in the third

stage I created a whatsapp group for the

students it is called the story makers

this is a platform for the students to

share story prompts and stories with one

another they can upload images video

clips of sound clips and then write

stories about that and then receive

feedback from

from their peers and it can also be used

as a collaborative writing platform

someone can upload an image and then

collaboratively the students can write a

story about that and we did this

activity outside the class when the

students were at home this is the second

platform that I that I set up for my

students this is a class blog so I use

the kid blog platform because it is some

children friendly very easy to use and

it's very safe the students don't have

to have an email in order to log in I

just need to set it up and then and I

will be given a code so I'll share the

code with my students and the students

are going to be able to log in using

that code so it's a safe secure only the

members of the the class blog can see

the content and yeah so they use it the

same way as they used whatsapp group

that share stories receive and give

feedback things like that so yeah

findings and discussions so I'll be

sharing with you my students had changed

attitudes towards writing after this

project throughout this project and also

the scores for that my students caught

in the pretest and posttest

and I will also be sharing with you a

comparison between a practice test that

we did at the beginning of the year and

the actual ups are resolved ok so I

gathered the data for this by asking my

students to write reflections this one

this question here how do you feel about

writing was asked at the beginning of

the project before I conducted any of

the intervention activities and to guide

my students to write their reflections I

provided the reflection sheet with the

question written on it in English with

the Malay translation so I gave my

students the choice to either respond in

English or Malay and then I read through

my students responses and I tried to


answers that I can categorize into the

same category and so in this chart here

shows that for the question how do you

feel about writing difficult appear 39

percent of the time the answer don't

like writing 26 percent and related to

exam 19 percent

this one I asked this question while the

project was going on after right after

the students did the mini project where

they took the pictures around the school

and how do you feel about today's

writing activity for the 3 percent of my

students associated with positive

feelings enjoy funny creative and then

33 percent describe what they learn

about story writing through the activity

for example one of my students wrote

that today I learned that in order for a

story to be interesting it must have an

element of surprise and that's that's

one example and then 14 percent

disk describe why they like or dislike a

particular story and this question I

asked them at the end of the project to

get them to get the students overall

impression of the project and what they

they thought about it and at 32 percent

associated it with positive experience

awesome happy and etc 32% describe the

story writing process in the inflection

for instance one of my students wrote

that she she learned how to write a

story by first brainstorming ideas

selecting the characters thinking about

the plot the climax what feelings and

emotions she she wanted to put in so

that's an example and also 23 percent of

my students wrote in their reflection

that section C

- then it's no longer hard they can it's

something that they can do alright so

this is my students average scores in

the pretest and posttest

so in this pretest and posttest are only

for section c it is not for the whole

English paper for section C only and so

in the pretest the average score was 2.9

out of the full 15 so in September when

did we did the post-test right before

the ups are the actual ups are this the

average score had jumped to six point

six five out of four the full map

fifteen so there was an improvement

there and and all the 31 students

involved in this project

improved intersection C okay so in this

table here january test refers to the

practice test that we did at the

beginning of the year and so this this

this test is for the whole english paper

which includes all the components

grammar spelling punctuation

comprehension comprehension as well as

section c the writing part and so in

january and solely you bets a result is

the actual ups a result so you can see

there that there's an improvement but

however the back down for the the the

components in the exams will not release

by the malaysian examination board so i

can't compare section c only so i can't

claim that the improvement in the ups

are result is solely based on the

students improvement in Section C but

it's encouraging other than this right

so now my students had become more

confident and they enjoyed writing tasks

if I may I would like to share some

small success that we had achieved last

year my students participated in the


competition and I advertised about the

competition to my students I thought

that only two or three students would be

interested to join but to my surprise

more than half of the class joined and

so the school got a computer for the

largest number of entry and but that was

not the biggest success the biggest

success was my stood at three of my

students won the top spots first place

second place and fourth place so it just

confirmed my belief that my students

have so much potential to be good right

to stand just not interested in it at

the beginning and so yeah the use of

stories motivated them to write to write

and to be creative our recent project is

to compile all my students short stories

into a book which we hope to publish

this year and I mean technology digital

proms and online platforms that we use

in this project supported the

development of students writing and I

think um what I what I learned I think

the most valuable thing that I learned

through this project is that I think the

most effective teaching and learning can

happen when the students engagement is

at its optimum level I can bring in all

the latest pedagogical strategies or the

most sophisticated tools but if I fail

to recognize what engages my students

and I don't know how to utilize it to

help my students learn I think I'm going

no way we are going nowhere

I think the most precious moment in this

project was when my students told me

that I had succeeded in making them

learn what they need to learn by making

them believe that they really want to

learn I think that sums it all up and

yeah so if I were to bring this further

I would like to explore more ways on how

technology can help my students to be

better writers I would like to

experiment with more of platforms or

apps or software's no more devices and

yeah I think that's all that I have

and if you'd like to ask me in question

I feel free to do so alternatively you

can also email me and now be happy to

get back to you so thank you very much

thanks for listening

The Description of Improving children's writing skills through digital story prompts and feedback