Saturday, 22 May 2010

Three Tier Dictation

I work in a state school where children are grouped on the basis of age rather than linguistic competence. As you can imagine the levels within the class are enormous. 'Three tier dictations' are a good way of making dictation a more effective classroom tool in mixed ability classes.

Imagine that this is your text:

Brown Bear
It's got brown fur. It lives in Asia, Europe and North America. It can run very fast. It eats plants, nuts, roots, insects, meat and fish. It's the second biggest bear. It hibernates.


To the most 'competent' children you could give them a piece of write paper with only the title. To the next level you could give them key words and finally to the third tier you could give them a text with options.

  1. Brown Bear
  2.                            fur.                             Asia, Europe and North America.                         fast.                            plants, nuts, roots, insects, meat and fish.                       biggest bear.  hibernates.
  3. It's got brown/blue fur. It lives/plays in Asia, Europe and North America. It can run/swim very fast. It eats/drinks/ plants, nuts, roots, insects, meat and fish. It's the second biggest/smallest bear. It hibernates.       
I really like dictation and think it's a very valuable tool. The problem is that it can be overwhelming for low level students. If you adapt a traditional dictation activity in this way it becomes much more achievable for all students and  helps them feel more successful.

Thanks to Trevor Doble for reminding me of this tool.

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