Noticing the difference: discussion questions

Looking through phone photos has brought up an activity from a while back.

I’ll post the series of photos, see if it makes sense to look at, and then add some details after:

copy of photo 1.jpg


copy of photo 2.jpg


noticing final pic
  1. Students wrote discussion Qs for homework.
  2. The teacher re-formulates their questions.
  3. Students compare their question with the teacher’s one.

I think, though it was a while back, that students were asked to: find the differences between the two questions.  What grammar and vocabulary differences can you see? Can you explain why the teacher made the changes that he did?

I remember the initial investigative task being engaging for students. I also remember the actual language analysis and explanation much more difficult. I had to monitor pretty hard and do little mini lessons with many students in order to nudge them toward an accurate analysis of the language differences.

I would be interested to know what other questions one can ask students in these kinds of noticing tasks, beyond simply, ‘what differences can you see and why?’ To my shame I’ve never really given that much thought to to this moment of these types of activities.

Good things:

Personal content

Individualised learning

Bad things:

Hard to manage everyone’s progress

Hard to know how to follow up on so many different pieces of language

Difficult for students to know ‘why did the teacher make the changes that he did?’




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