Social Activity - Escola Beit Yaacov

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Social Activity - Escola Beit Yaacov
Curricular Integration and
Social Activity:
Participating in a Model United Nations Session;
from planning to assessment
Michael Reuben
Stance Dual School
São Paulo, Brazil
Personal Information
• Degree in Psychology – Pontifícia Universidade Católica;
PUC – São Paulo
• Language Arts teacher at Stance Dual Bilingual School
• Math and Science teacher at Stance Dual for 9 years
• Currently coordinates the English area for middle and high
school at Colégio Iavne
• Language arts teacher at Colégio Iavne for 7 years
Project Developed in a Bilingual School in São Paulo
Portuguese and English
Pre school to eighth grade (up to year 9)
Content areas in Portuguese (mornings)
Content areas in English (afternoons)
6 language arts, 2 social studies, 2 math and 2 science
• Emphasis on curriculum integration Portuguese x English
Projects developed for our annual cultural fair
Based on themes for the whole school:
2009 -Sustainability
2010 - Work and Consumerism
2011 – Alterity
Main project for this presentation:
“Participating in a Model United Nations Session”
integration: Language Arts., Social Studies, History (portuguese)
Secondary Project:
“Participating in a Public Awareness Campaign”
Language arts, Science (portuguese and English), I.T.
1.Explain the basics of the concept of Social Activity
(Leontiev, 1977), (Liberali, 2009).
2. Describe a project using a social activity; focus on its
didactic sequence, planning and assessment strategies.
3. Explore the possibilities of curriculum integration
between different content areas within the social activity
4. Focus on a “hands on” / practical approach to the use of
this framework in the classroom; from a teacher to other
5. Highlight the importance of working with cyclical genres
and textual types contextualized in “real life” situations,
defined by their social-communicative characteristics.
6. Performance and Improvisation as key aspects to a
significant and engaged learning process; performance x
role playing; show examples of performances at a school
Social Activity
Based on CHAT which stands for Cultural-Historical-Activity Theory (TASHC
- Teoria da Atividade Sócio-Histórico-Cultural), (Vygotsky, 2001;Leontiev,
1977; Engeström, 1999)
CHAT focuses on the study of activities in which the subjects are
interacting with others in specific cultural contexts that are historically
dependent (Liberali, 2009).
Teaching through social activities emphasizes the actions mobilized by a
group to reach a specific objective/motive satisfying the needs of the
subjects in the “life that is lived” (Marx and Engels, 2006)
Why Use the Social Activity Framework? How can it be
useful in my teaching-learning process?
• It facilitates the creation of mutual ZPD’s ( Zone of Proximal
Development) (Vygotsky)
- Internationally known as the “distance between the level of
real development and the level of potential development”
- Holzman (2002) points that people construct “zones”, e.g.,
between the place that they are and the one that they are
becoming, that enables them to become.
- In the construction of ZPD’s, subjects do things that they don’t
master yet; they go beyond themselves (Holzman,2002)
• Expands and contextualizes, through actions and
performances, situations lived inside the classroom, enabling
students to go “beyond the walls of the school”
• Focuses on collaborative / critical methodology; divides the
work among members of a group...who does what?
How do we do it? When and where do we do it? Why do
we do it? What do we need to change? How can we improve?
• Raises awareness of a context, reflects about a context, acts
upon a context with active participation of the subjects
Some Actions Involved in a Social Activity
1. Using the concept of playing to “organize” an activity;
playing...with rules!
2. Participating in social/cultural activities.
3. Planning imaginary situations (multiple associations).
4. Representing roles in different social situations (different
from role playing!).
5. Acting with purpose; integrating specific contents and
specific procedures.
6. Performing and improvising.
7. Creating future possibilities of acting in the world and
transforming it.
Components of a Social Activity
• Subjects: those who carry out the social activity; (Who?)
• Object: the final product of the activity, the purpose (objective) of the activity;
(When? Where? Why?)
• Instruments: tools used by participants to reach desired result; means used to
reach the objective; genres (What?)
• Community: those that share the experience of the social activity, participants
and the ones that attend/participate in a performance (Who?)
• Rules : how the activity is carried out; focus on procedures; (How?)
• Division of labor: tasks and functions of participants (How?)
A Social Activity is constituted by agents (subjects) that perceive
their needs, that are motivated by a purpose (object), which is
mediated by artifacts (instruments) and by the means of a
relationship between individuals (community), which is
constituted by rules and by the division of labor.
(Liberali, 2009).
Human Activity System (Engeström)
The structure of a human activity system (Engeström, 1987, p. 78)
Examples of Social Activities / Integration
Creating a Design Firm (Arts Y8)
Producing a Yearbook (Lgge Y9)
Presenting at an International Conference (Lgge Y9)
Participating in a Public Awareness Campaign (Lgge/Social Stds Y6)
Participating in a Science Fair (Lgge/Science Y6)
Producing an Assisted Guide to São Paulo (Science/Maths y9)
Designing Interiors (Maths Y8)
Producing a Teen Webzine (Lgge Y7)
Going to the Doctor (Science Y7)
Designing a Medicine Box (Science y 8)
Participating in a Debate (Lgge/Social Stds Y8)
Reporting a Catastrophe (Science Y6)
Tiling with Polygons (Maths Y6)
Participating in a Panel Dsicussion (Lgge Y7)
Didactic Sequence
Elements of a Sequence
Choosing a theme
Integration and Contents
“Real Life Situation” – PERFORMANCE
Two examples of projects
Didactic Sequence # 1
A) Choosing a theme
• Related to community and world around
• Social Relevance and significant to students
• How can life conditions be transformed?
2010 - Work and Consumerism
2011 - Alterity
Both years – debate on Child Labour following
the Model United Nations format.
B) Integration and Contents
Language arts:
- Written genres: country profile; position paper
- Oral genres: speeches; argumentation strategies
- Linguistic devices: showing opinion; argumentation
- Rules and procedures: debate; focus performance
Social Studies / History:
- Industrial Revolution
- Concept of Labor
- Contextualization and reasons behind Child Labor
in the world; investigating their countries actions
C) Genres
• According to Bakhtin (1992), genres are understood as discursive practices
with proper characteristics and specific social functions.
• A social activity focuses on ways to produce, understand, interpret and
memorize a group of genres necessary to an effective participation in a
specific activity with a defined purpose (Liberali,2009).
• Mastering a genre can be seen as the mastery of a communicative
Model U.N.
1. Expository / Research Report : country profile
2. Argumentative / Persuasive :
a) position paper
b) speeches
c) debate
D) “Real Life Situation” - PERFORMANCE
• Performance is probably the main goal and final outcome of a
social activity.
• In a performance, the subjects create other forms of relating
to themselves, with others, with the world around them.
• “Create who they are by being who they are not” (Holzman,
1997, p.73)
“Participating in a Model United Nations Session”
- adaptation of the real Model U.N
- speeches, debating main issue, questions and
answers (room for improvising)
- voting on best position presented
Decision and participation
Emotional involvement
Focus on procedure
Room for improvising
Room for reflection and
• Going beyond
• Fosters ZPD
Role Playing
Script and sequence
Repetition of phrases
Focus on content
No room for improvising
Comfort zone
E) Assessment
1. Diagnostic:
students perform and/or produce written assignments based on their
previous knowledge; broader, more general indicators of performance
are given
no input is given on language functions or content from other area
social activity that will be worked on is introduced through some
media/text or other
students are asked to identify/discuss Who? What? Where? When? Why?
Focus on the context of production of that particular activity
Feed back of teacher and other students; grades are attributed for some
or all the steps above
2. Formative:
- establishing clear expectations all along the process
- constant feedback; possibilities to change course of action
- evaluating all stages of the process, from collecting data to elaboration and
planning of performance
- elaborating your own proficiency indicators; from mastering specific
content of the areas involved to language proficiency indicators
- evaluating the chore products of the project (oral and written genres
involved); evaluating performance
- indicators for your expectations in collaborative / social / interactive work
along the process (focus on procedures and active participation)
Example of indicators (formative)
“Participating in a Model United Nations Session”
A – Identifies the context of production of the model U.N.
B – Is able to write a research report on a given country using the appropriate textual
organization of the research report genre.
C – Identifies the element of a position paper; identifies the difference between position paper
and expository paper; Is able to write a position paper on the issue of child labor.
E – Classifies where, when, why, how and in what conditions child labor is characterized;
defines what is child labor.
F -Is able to express oneself in an informal debate, using appropriate language, pronunciation
and intonation of a typical debate (also specific oral performance indicators)
G- Is able to perform in a formal debate, following the appropriate rules and procedures of the
genre, defending a position of his (her) country, reaching consensus (or not) and proposing
solutions (petitions) on the issue of child labor.
3. Summative
- Final exams that recover part of the activities, genres and
content that were experienced during the project (focus on
the process)
- Using performance indicators given throughout formative
assessment to build final exam
- Time to assess the student individually; their potential
development (compared to beginning)
Social Activity :
Didactic Sequence - Summary
• Understand the context of production of the activity (social-historical
context); Who? Where? What ? How? When? Why?
• Initial performance (focus on previous knowledge; no input).
• Introduce the genre(s) involved in the activity
• Work on the textual organization of the genre(s) (focus on its socialcommunicative function)
• Production of the genre(s)
• Specific language functions to carry out the activity (grammar, specific
vocabulary, etc.)
• Grammar and content from subject areas are taught in a specific context
and then extrapolated to other contexts.
• Final performance (final evaluation).
• Summative evaluation (final exam with all previous contents).
(Reuben, et al, 2011)
Some sources for creating performance indicators:
1. PISA - Programme for International Student Assessment
• Focuses on 3 broad groups of indicators according to level of
proficiency/steps of the project:
1. Recuperation / Identification / Reproduction of information
2. Interpretation / Analysis / Explanation
3. Reflection / Evaluation / Application
2. Pre K-12 English Language Proficiency Standards (TESOL)
• Focuses on constructing matrixes of proficiency indicators based on
U.S. standards for all content areas.
• Designed for Curriculum coordinators, educators and consultants.
• Excellent to address assessment of inclusion students and/or
different levels of proficiency.
Didactic Sequence #2
A) Theme: Sustainability (2009)
B) Integration: Language, Science, I.T. , Drama
class, Arts
C) Genres and content: (next slide)
D) “Real Life Situation” / Performance:
“Participating in a Public Awareness
Campaign” (protest march)
E) Assessment: same as sequence #1
Curricular Contents – Year 6 (5th grade)
Language Arts
Social Activity: Developing a
public awareness campaign
Social Activity: Participating in
a public awareness campaign
• Genres:
- Persuasive letter
- Slogans
- Posters
- Campaign speeches
• Linguistic devices related to
argumentative genres
• Subject Area Contents:
- Global warming: Causes
and effects; technology
- Revolutionary actions to
reduce global warming
- Cycles of water, carbon
and oxygen
• Social activity enables us to diminish the
distance between school and real life
• It creates and opens doors to future
possibilities of being/becoming
• Fosters curricular integration
• It gives a potential chance of creating a more
meaningful learning process for students with
more involvement and interaction
To my coordinators Sarah Weiler and Andrea Miranda
and colleagues at Stance.
Special thanks to:
Carlos Marotto (science and maths) and Daniel Pecego
(language arts) for all the brainstorming and help on
some of the ideas presented here regarding the social
activity theory and more importantly for “making it
happen” in real life through some of the wonderful
projects we have presented along the years.
Dedication In Memoriam of
Ana Maria David
Suggested Bibliography
• Leontyev, A.N; Activity and Consciousness Philosophy in the USSR, Problems of
Dialectical Materialism, 1977, pp. 180-202
• Liberali, Fernanda; Atividade Social nas aulas
de Língua Estrangeira, (2009)
• Katz, Anne et al; Prek-12 English Language
Proficiency Standards(2006)
[email protected]
Stance Dual School
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