Working with chunks :)

It was suggested to me recently that it would be really good if textivate could provide text re-build activities based on chunks specified by the teacher. The rationale behind this is that it is better for students to work with words grouped in meaningful chunks rather than in isolation or in randomly generated segments.

Textivate already has re-build activities based on letters, words, sentences and randomly split sections of text, but it occurred to me that there was no way of specifying chunks. 

But then I realised that this actually could already be done, as explained below.

Specifying chunks by line break

If you separate your text into chunks using line breaks as shown in the image above, textivate treats it in the same way as it would treat any text formatted in this way, such as a song or a poem. It treats each new line as a separate section or sentence. So if you then choose the "split by sentence" (rather than by word) option on those activities that have this feature, you sort of end up with what we are looking for: re-build activities based on the teacher-specified chunks of text.

BUT doing this alone has the following drawbacks:

  • Text-to-speech (if used) reads each chunk separately, so there is no way of making activities where a whole sentence is read out and students piece the chunks together based on what they hear.
  • The re-constructed text also appears on separate lines in this way, which is not really ideal... (And the same applies to all of the gap-fill and letters activities.)

Solution?: ###chunked###

Add ###chunked### to the top of your text (as shown above).

This instructs textivate to chunk your text only for those "split by sentence" activities. Note that it removes ALL line breaks from the text, assuming that all line breaks are in fact chunk-separators. Note also that double line breaks are kept in the text, so if you really want your text to appear as paragraphs, simply hit the return key twice between paragraphs.

AND it makes sure that text-to-speech ignores the line breaks too.

The result...

See the embedded examples below.

The 1 in 4 activity below has been fine-tuned to "Split by sentences" and "TTS sections":

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You can do the same sort of thing with the tile activities too, but note that you will only have 1 chunk per tile if the number of tiles equals the number of chunks in your text (obviously!). The example below is based on the same 30-chunk text as the example above. The 20 tiles include 10 1-chunk tiles and 10 2-chunk tiles. Again this has been fine-tuned to "Split by sentences" and "TTS sections":

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Here is a pdf version of the above exercise:

See this example using a different text consisting of 18 chunks, split across 18 tiles. (All the same fine-tuning as before):

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Here is a pdf version of the above exercise:

Text-to-speech is entirely optional, of course. Without text-to-speech you have all of the benefits of any other text re-build activity, but with the advantage that students are working with meaningful chunks of language. (It's clearly easier if they have aural input too. It all depends what you're after.)

Chunked translation?

You can also use Tiles, Horizontal or Multi-choice activities combined with a parallel text to create chunked translation activities. Notice in the image above the parallel English text has been divided to match the chunks in the French. This is optional, of course, but may be useful as an extra bit of scaffolding.

>> Click here to try the above activity <<

Chunky gapfill?

If you make a user-defined gapfill (see blog post on user-defined gapfill) based on your mutiple-word chunks (see blog post on multiple word gaps) you end up with a chunk-based gapfill such as the one below:

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And a pdf version:

But you also get a football game...

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...and a 3 in a row game...

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...all based on the same chunky gaps.

:0)

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