POS Tagging of the BAS Booklet

POSWThanks to the web, I managed to cobble together R code which identified and sent to a text file the Parts of Speech used in the school’s, ‘Becoming a Scientist’ booklet.

As you can see (for the first 20 words of 1522):


I’m interested in correlations between the science content and verb/personal pronoun gravity. For example, the choice of verbs, ‘you’, ‘I’ and ‘we’ – does this affect retention/recall? And what about during after gameplay?

This code will also benefit deep analysis of pupils’ texts produced: pronoun/verb dispersion; lexical sophistication relating to game narrative recall.

And much more.


From Corpus to Classroom


Exploring the links between corpus linguistics and language teaching

Small, specialised corpora associate with MCC game use and Science E&Os

Chapter 8 –  Relational Language
– hedging: pedagogical re analysing pupil articulation during recall / knowledge construction

Chapter 7 – Listenership and response
– engagement tokens

Chapter 5 – Grammar and Lexis and Patterns

Chapter 9 – Language and Creativity
Quantative and qualitative methods required

Quantitative Methods

Since receiving very detailed and verbose feedback from the team at Press Start, I have been beavering away and ‘learning’ – well, copying examples from webpages, books, software, etc – about statistics particular to student testing. I’ve been covering mean values, produced bar charts in Excel with box plots and error bars, I’ve been using independent and dependent paired-t tests. Time to append to my ongoing ‘Professional Update’ activities.

I am far from being an expert, but I at least have the materials and exemplars with which to work if I have the need to do so again.

I have also discovered an interesting programming language – R – suited to data analysis, or more wondrously titled ;data mining’. I plan to put it through its paces with my current S2 class which has just begun its Mars mission.  I am becoming more interested in the use of the pronouns, ‘I’ and ‘We’ in association with collaborative learning with or without the use of a digital game. I will, as always, use Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as the analytic lens.

More to follow.

Literacy and the Visual Image

I am continuing to undertake research into Game-based Learning, and single-gender teaching in particular. I’m reading a PhD on the classification of audio within digital games and their contributions to immersion.

But meanwhile…

I have been reading the following paper:

Rowsell, Jennifer; Kendrick, Maureen. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy.Apr2013, Vol. 56 Issue 7, p587-599.

It discusses the benefits of visual cues – student- generated or chosen from a third-party source – in assisting students producing richer narratives. (This accords with an other recent paper on Dyslexia, which accompanies a specially-designed font, and also notes the need for the use of visual cues.)

Of course, the subjects of the papers are young males.

Three modalities and three sites of meaning are defined.

Modalities are: technological, compositional & social. The three sites of meaning are: site of production, the bonded unit of the image, and the site of viewing. The theory of ‘site’ takes account of the social practices of the context in which the image was produced, what it ‘contains’ and where and when it is viewed: from one to three different locations. And henceforth, this has effects on the production and reception of the resulting narrative.

All of which accords with Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), Cole, Engstrom, et al., the socio-cultural analysis tool which I have been using as part of my observations of group work, formally and informally. Kendrick and Rowsell go on to suggest:

“An ecological approach to language learning emphasizes emergent language development; “learning and cognition as explained not only in terms of processes inside the head, but also in terms of interaction with the environment; and learners’ perceptual and social activity as, in a fundamental way, their learning” (vanLier, 2000, cited in Hornberger, 2002, p. 35). An ecological approach allows us to look more closely at the performance of multimodal text construction and to consider students’ experience across time and within a variety of contexts” (Roswell & Kendrick, p.590, 2013).

So we English teachers should acknowledge the power of the visual image to support narrative production, tapping “into students’ motivations, interests and convictions” – especially boys – and ‘recruit’ what “students bring to learning” (The New London Group, 1996 in Roswell & Kendrick, 2013).

A Visitation

The clock has started…

I received a visit from my MSc Supervisor last Tuesday, and he had kindly come from Edinburgh to speak about Literary, Science and games-based learning.

A delightful buffet, ice-breaker conversation that included two distinguished colleagues and them we were underway.

Data. Limits.  What exactly am I looking to analyse?

Well I’ve recently become less fearful in modifying my original Research Question, including the key points it hoped to explore: this is key because one of the suggestions was scope, the corollary being the volume and management of the generated data.

Gantt Charts are useful (but sometimes they are all consuming) and I have two, a ‘micro’ and a ‘macro’.  The meta level planning – academic reading, literature review, questionnaires, observations, data collation,  analysis, write up and submission …

The micro identifies the daily (and lesson plan) ‘action research’ activities across the 5 weeks between 6th January and the first week of February.  The first two weeks are aimed at providing pupils with the backstory to their imagined Mars landing, as well as allowing them time to acclimatise to the GUI, their team (of 4).

Being the kernel to the focus if analytical lens of Activity Theory (CHAT) , we then have three weeks of learning where pupils adopt the tool of Mars Colony Challenger and I observe m activities that I hope are transformative in knitting together ‘seeded’ Science curricular knowledge, in-game immersion and literacies.  (Amazon provided two cheap but capable tripods for the department Flip cameras to deliver this rich qualitative data set.)

Pupil journals, observations of group discussion, records of reading occurrences of multiple media forms (even F1 Help provides a ‘text’) and weekly triangulation with my ‘Science Guy’ to assess the progress of pupils’ competence against a set of ‘SCN-‘ Es & Os.

An ‘exit questionnaire’ or report task will provide us with a testing instrument against which will be applied pre-questionnaire knowledge.

A number of ‘ENG-‘ outcomes have been defined,  but the majority are Literacy focused and cover Reading, Writing, Listening(Watching) and Talking.  In conjunction with activity system diagrams, activity narratives and the application of the aforementioned Es & Os I will look at additional ‘codes’ that present themselves through MCC use and ‘curious play’.

Common ground? Literacy.  And how will the addition of a multi-user simulation software application immerse and engage pupils in applying their learning within a collaborative virtual environment?