Saturday, 1 January 2011

PTLLS Theory Question 5:Range of ways to embed elements of functional skills in subject area

Assignment 5: Evaluate a range ways to embed elements of functional skills in
your specialist area.
By Matthew Oronsaye
For individuals to work confidently, independently and effectively in life, practical skills in numeracy, ICT and literacy (Petty G, 2009) which together are termed functional skills or transferable skills due to their different applications to context and situations (Gravells, A. 2008) have to be acquired. This is also underscored by The Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (2010). When functional skills are deliberately embedded in the teaching process, they become what the students are used to directly or indirectly.
In evaluating range of ways in which functional skills are embedded into my subject area, English (creative writing), I would state that it starts from my planning of the lesson for the session. If for example I have the topic ‘Poetry Appreciation, with focus on the sonnet’, what I do is to build the functional skills around the topic. For example, a sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines. This can be made of some stanzas. Each stanza might concentrate on different points which sums up a general idea put forward by the poet through his poem. For each verse, there is a topic sentence or line which other lines within the verse lend support to. In teaching this to students through the usage of ICT, they can be told to view each stanza of the poem as spread sheet in which each grid takes the main point of the poem. If the poem has three stanzas, there could be three points in three grids on the horizontal plain while vertically; the grids below each point would contain information to support each point on the horizontal plain.
Bringing numeracy into the equation, it would depend on how the poem is structured and the diction used as a vehicle to convey the message as poetry is not just ‘what said’ but ‘how said’. If for example one of the lines states: Here comes the engine of my being! My wife is
symmetrical! Symmetrical is an allusion to maths or numeracy which has to be explained to the students so that they can understand what the poet is talking about in the poem. Symmetry which is an exact correspondence in position or form about a given point, line, or plane in Maths can be taken to mean in its usage in the poem that the persona (poet) is saying that his wife has an identical twin sister that sometimes his mind cannot comprehend due to their exact correspondence when they stand side by side. Also, when I tell students to count the lines and stanzas in a poem, I am indirectly embedding and reminding them of their numeracy. When a student is able to say ‘This is a poem of fourteen line with three stanzas’, it means that the student has a certain level of numeracy.
The way I sometimes incorporate literacy into the teaching of poetry is to tell students to use the dictionary to check out some of the words which they think are difficult for them to understand. By doing this, they build their vocabulary and also understand the poem the more. Again, telling them to read poems during sessions actually helps students to develop reading and comprehension skills. As per the use of punctuations, I teach students through poem appreciation of how to focus on punctuations in the poems they read so as to be able to unlock the full meaning of the poem they are either appreciating or analyzing. It is also through this that structure of writing could be discussed. This I do by telling my students the similarities amongst stanza in poetry, paragraph in essay, chapter in prose, and Act in plays.

With the above, it is very possible that functional skills can be brought to bear in any subject in as much as the teacher thinks his lesson sessions through and through before actually delivering the lesson.

Gravells A., 2008. Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector – Level 3 Coursebook. Learning Matters Ltd.
Petty G., 2009. Teaching Today: a practical guide. 4th Ed Nelson Thornes.
QCDA., 2010. Introduction to functional skills. Available at:
[Accessed 26 Nov 2010]

1 comment:

  1. Thanks alot your site, it really helped me to understand my PTLLS assignment. Am really grateful..Keep up the good work