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Peanut Butter and Jelly Lesson

In this video clip teacher Ronelle Wright develops writing and vocabulary skills in her students through the engaging task of making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Wright skillfully interweaves hands-on activities, rich language development dialogue, and writing practice to help her students learn. To view the clip, click below. See additional perspectives on this lesson below the clip.

See the lesson.

This clip is taken from the CD-ROM Teaching Alive for the 21st Century, one of many in the Five Standards for Effective Pedagogy CD-ROM series.


Perspective 1: Stephanie Dalton, Educational Researcher
In the lesson, the interaction appears to be a playful and informal conversation, but look a little more closely. Students are participating in a complicated format which includes rapid co-narration, overlapping, and simultaneous speaking. The teacher listens very carefully, you will see, and she does so to capture the students' comments. She is listening to those comments to find out what students bring into this lesson and how she can best assist them to understand what is the objective of the lesson.
And in the conversation you will listen for her use of clarification checks when she asks questions like, "Is that clear?" And she uses confirmation checks where she asks students, "Do we all agree about this?" And validation requests, then, are the questions she asks like, "Why is that?" And she does all of this to encourage the students to participate--and to respond to their comments. She also tries to include all of the students in the conversation, and in this situation she has them all participating in an instructional conversation.

Perspective 2: Annela Teemant - Educational Linguist
Creating a safe environment and instructional setting where students, especially second language students, feel energetic and eager and willing to participate orally, is very important in the students' oral language development and then subsequent literacy development. This activity of "How do we make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?" leads to the students then engaging with the teacher in a language experience activity. They make a connection between the experience that they are having of making the sandwich with the teacher and then making it more abstract in writing their reactions on the board and then later identifying key words like jelly in the writing. Structuring participation in this way allows every student's voice to be heard, to be valued, to be written on the board. Carefully sequenced to move from listening and speaking to then writing and reading about their own experience. The structure of the activity is a continual spiraling of competence in recognizing oral language playing out in written language text. This type of contextualization, this move from the concrete to the abstract, these kinds of elaborative modifications in the teacher talk, all support the student's second language development.

Perspective 3:
"Our position on the matter of curriculum emphasis is that neither the academic nor the traditional socialization/play approach is adequate for the education of young children because both fail to engage the child's mind sufficiently. The opportunity for spontaneous play and the cognitive growth and socialization that it provides can benefit all children during the early years and certainly many children as young as five years of age can profit from some kinds of academic work. But in our view, an appropriate curriculum for young children is one that puts a high priority on intellectual goals. By this we mean that children's minds are engaged in ways that deepen their understanding of their own experiences and environment and thereby strengthen their confidence in their own intellectual powers, that is, their dispositions to observe and investigate.
Many adults tend to overestimate young children academically but underestimate them intellectually" (pp. 6-7).
Katz, L. G. and Chard, S. C. (2000). Engaging children's minds: The project approach. Norwod, NJ: Ablex.

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