Bill Van Patten recently shared a link on the Tea With BVP website to a google doc (see below) on the topic of discourse scrambles.
Discourse scrambles are activities where you take a list of sentences or dialogue utterances, and students are required to put them into the correct order. According to Van Patten, "the language overall should be comprehensible in its original form, otherwise students cannot complete the task".
Van Patten goes on to explain the benefits of discourse scrambles:
"As in input-oriented activity, discourse scrambles push students to pay attention to language holistically. First, they attempt to make sense (comprehend) each sentence in isolation. Then they work to see how what they’ve comprehended works to make a bigger chunk of language. In so doing, they are pushed to attend to all aspects of language: vocabulary, syntactic and morphological properties, how sentences connect (e.g., overt discourse connectors such as “therefore”, “because” “and so”; logical ordering of events), how words relate across sentences (e.g., how pronouns refer to previous nouns), among others. Paragraph discourse scrambles also help to lay the groundwork for writing later on."
Grant Boulanger (2015 Minnesota World Language Teacher of the Year) shared a link to the google doc on twitter and made reference to textivate as an example of discourse scrambles. So I thought I'd explain the best way of replicating Van Patten's discourse scrambles on textivate...
1. Split by sentence
If you create a sequence or a url link to a particular activity, fine-tune it so that the activity opens as "split by sentence". This means that, as long the number of sentences is greater than or equal to the number of blocks in the particular activity, none of the blocks of text will end mid-sentence. So students can look at all of the blocks / sentences as isolated chunks before deciding what order they should be in.
If the activity is set to "split by word count", you end up with a different sort of discourse scramble, where each element is not a whole, fully formed sentence. This forces the student to focus on the first element first, then work out which string of words is its successor, and so on, rather than looking at the text holistically. It also works on sequencing within sequences, form, syntax, grammar etc, rather than pure meaning. This is also a really useful activity, because it forces students to look at how words fit together to form sentences. But it isn't quite the same as the activity that Van Patten is referring to in his google doc.
2. Auto-check off
Again, in your sequence or url link, set autocheck to off. This means that students are encouraged to work on the text in its entirety. They should attempt to put all blocks of text into the correct order before clicking "check". If they don't have it all correct, they should repeat this process, working with the whole text, before clicking "check" again. This process can be repeated as many times as necessary until all sentences are in the correct position.
The temptation, when autocheck is on, is to focus first on element 1, then element 2 etc., rather than dealing the the text holistically.
In all of the examples below, the text needs to be arranged in blocks, working from left to right.
This is the same as the image shown above, which uses text taken from the BVP document:
Click below to access the activity. (Opens in a new window on touch devices.)
This text is about increased gang violence in El Salvador. It has 9 sentences:
This one is in French. It's a "blonde" joke. It has 8 elements:
This one is suitable for beginners in Spanish. It uses the Paragraphs activity, with 8 elements:
This is an example with a longer text, split into 12 blocks, each containing one or more sentences. It's a story in Spanish "Moggin tiene hambre":