by Diah Fakhmawati
Expert Educator Columnist, Indonesia
Usually students’ learning language takes place at classroom or language laboratory. Have you ever imagined what they are doing when they learn language outside classroom and working with plants or tree? They are learning to write a report of some plant. The students work collaboratively with their peers and some sources (writers through books, blogs, websites, and biology teachers). They also draw their natural science or biology knowledge on language product in form of report writing. This is applicable activity for them as student. They know something and they share what they know. Reporting something is common task for scholar. When they have studied of course, they should be able to elucidate what they know. While learning writing engaging natural environment would give them opportunity to gather language aptitude and natural science into a great learning outcome.
What the students would benefit from this kind of learning? Let’s say the students could deepen their writing ability and nature knowledge. Is that all? Of course not. First, the students will work collaboratively. They can learn to share to others, to appreciate others, and collaborate in completing the task. Second, the students would be able to assemble their nature knowledge into language aptitude. They could put nature information they know in words and reversely they could write a report of factual information about nature. Thirdly, the students will be able to do a research due to they would have done observation and informative research. Later they would be able to do same activity when they get to do a real research. In other words, this learning activity is scaffolding for them to construct their knowledge composing a factual information of plants. In addition, in this activity the students also develop their critical thinking and reading skill. And finally, the students also engage to computer to do researching something through internet and writing though word processor. The students learn how to use search engine, how to evaluate appropriate websites and decide which information they want. In addition, they also learn how to compose a writing using word processor, how to edit, how to add picture and how to design a good report.
Then what are they doing in this learning activity? A learning activities series constitute planning, observing, researching, drafting, consulting and getting feedback and finishing.
- In planning stage, the students plan what they will do to accomplish the task. They deliver the member’s job description. They have to work collaboratively. It means that each student in group has different job. For example, some students will give observation result some of them record it in notes. The collaboration is continued in every stage.
- Observing stage gives a chance to the students to notice what the plant looks like, the plant structure including the characteristics of the stem, leaves, flowers and the fruit. They have to take a good look, to taste, and to feel the texture. This activity will lead them to give an understanding how to reveal the facts of the plant.
- On the researching stage, the students try to find out the unknown information of the rest of information they do not get in the observation, i.e. the benefit, plant classification, etc. the students employ internet to overcome the problems. In this activity, the students develop their critical thinking and reading. They must be able to choose which suitable information from appropriate websites/blogs. They develop their reading skill and they have to be able to decide which information they need.
- After that, the students draft their result collaborative work in writing form. They write their thoughts in composition. They study to compose it in report writing text structure and to develop their vocabularies. They discuss it in groups what the things to write in the composition.
- While in consulting and getting feedback stage, the students have good opportunity to learn and discuss what they have done and learnt with the teacher. They will get some feedbacks over their learning outcome. They also will make up their weakness in writing. The teacher’s feedback will support and motivate them to improve their writing ability.
The learning outcome of these activities of course the students have learnt how to write a report, how to do a research, how to work collaboratively, and how to develop critical thinking in reading sources from internet and to work through computer.