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Curricular Integration and Social Activity: Participating in a Model United Nations Session; from planning to assessment. Michael Reuben Stance Dual School São Paulo, Brazil. Personal Information. Degree in Psychology – Pontifícia Universidade Católica ; PUC – São Paulo

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Michael reuben stance dual school s o paulo brazil

Curricular Integration and Social Activity:Participating in a Model United Nations Session; from planning to assessment

Michael Reuben

Stance Dual School

São Paulo, Brazil

Personal information

Personal Information

  • Degree in Psychology – PontifíciaUniversidadeCatólica;

    PUC – São Paulo

  • Language Arts teacher at Stance Dual Bilingual School

  • Math and Science teacher at Stance Dual for 9 years

  • Currently coordinates the English area for middle and high school at ColégioIavne

  • Language arts teacher at ColégioIavne for 7 years



Project Developed in a Bilingual School in São Paulo

  • Portuguese and English

  • Pre school to eighth grade (up to year 9)

  • Content areas in Portuguese (mornings)

  • Content areas in English (afternoons)

    6 language arts, 2 social studies, 2 math and 2 science classes/week

  • Emphasis on curriculum integration Portuguese x English areas

Michael reuben stance dual school s o paulo brazil

Main project for this presentation:

“Participating in a Model United Nations Session”

integration: Language Arts., Social Studies, History (portuguese)

Secondary Project:

“Participating in a Public Awareness Campaign”

Language arts, Science (portuguese and English), I.T.

  • Projects developed for our annual cultural fair

  • Based on themes for the whole school:

    • 2009 -Sustainability

    • 2010 - Work and Consumerism

    • 2011 – Alterity



1.Explain the basics of the concept of Social Activity (Leontiev, 1977), (Liberali, 2009).

2. Describe a project using a social activity; focus on its didactic sequence,planning and assessment strategies.

3. Explore the possibilities of curriculum integration between different content areas within the social activity framework.

4. Focus on a “hands on” / practical approach to the use of this framework in the classroom; from a teacher to other teachers.

5. Highlight the importance of working with cyclical genres and textual types contextualized in “real life” situations, defined by their social-communicative characteristics.

6. Performance and Improvisation as key aspects to a significant and engaged learning process; performance x role playing; show examples of performances at a school setting.

Social activity

Social Activity



  • Based on CHAT which stands for Cultural-Historical-Activity Theory (TASHC - Teoria da AtividadeSócio-Histórico-Cultural), (Vygotsky, 2001;Leontiev, 1977; Engeström, 1999)

  • CHAT focuses on the study of activitiesin which the subjects are interacting with others in specific cultural contexts that are historicallydependent (Liberali, 2009).

  • Teaching through social activities emphasizes the actions mobilized by a group to reach a specific objective/motive satisfying the needs of the subjects in the “life that is lived” (Marx and Engels, 2006)

Why use the social activity framework how can it be useful in my teaching learning process

Why Use the Social Activity Framework? How can it be useful in my teaching-learning process?

  • It facilitates the creation of mutual ZPD’s ( Zone of Proximal Development) (Vygotsky)

    - Internationally known as the “distance between the level of real development and the level of potential development”

    - Holzman (2002) points that people construct “zones”, e.g., between the place that they are and the one that they are becoming, that enables them to become.

    - In the construction of ZPD’s, subjects do things that they don’t master yet; they go beyond themselves (Holzman,2002)

Michael reuben stance dual school s o paulo brazil

  • Expands and contextualizes, through actions and performances, situations lived inside the classroom, enabling students to go “beyond the walls of the school”

  • Focuses on collaborative / critical methodology; divides the work among members of a group...who does what?

    How do we do it? When and where do we do it? Why do

    we do it? What do we need to change? How can we improve?

  • Raises awareness of a context, reflects about a context, acts upon a context with active participation of the subjects involved.

Some actions involved in a social activity

Some Actions Involved in a Social Activity

  • 1. Using the concept of playing to “organize” an activity;

  • playing...with rules!

2. Participating in social/cultural activities.

3. Planning imaginary situations (multiple associations).

4. Representing roles in different social situations (different

from role playing!).

5. Acting with purpose; integrating specific contents and

specific procedures.

6. Performing and improvising.

7. Creating future possibilities of acting in the world and

transforming it.

Components of a social activity

Components of a Social Activity

  • Subjects: those who carry out the social activity; (Who?)

  • Object: the final product of the activity, the purpose (objective) of the activity; (When? Where? Why?)

  • Instruments: tools used by participants to reach desired result; means used to reach the objective; genres (What?)

  • Community: those that share the experience of the social activity, participants and the ones that attend/participate in a performance (Who?)

  • Rules : how the activity is carried out; focus on procedures; (How?)

  • Division of labor: tasks and functions of participants (How?)



A Social Activity is constituted by agents (subjects) that perceive their needs, that are motivated by a purpose (object), which is mediated by artifacts (instruments) and by the means of a relationship between individuals (community), which is constituted by rules and by the division of labor.

(Liberali, 2009).

Human activity system engestr m

HumanActivity System (Engeström)

The structure of a human activity system (Engeström, 1987, p. 78)

Examples of social activities integration

Examples of Social Activities / Integration

  • Creating a Design Firm (Arts Y8)

  • Producing a Yearbook (Lgge Y9)

  • Presenting at an International Conference (Lgge Y9)

  • Participating in a Public Awareness Campaign (Lgge/Social Stds Y6)

  • Participating in a Science Fair (Lgge/Science Y6)

  • Producing an Assisted Guide to São Paulo (Science/Maths y9)

  • Designing Interiors (Maths Y8)

  • Producing a Teen Webzine (Lgge Y7)

  • Going to the Doctor (Science Y7)

  • Designing a Medicine Box (Science y 8)

  • Participating in a Debate (Lgge/Social Stds Y8)

  • Reporting a Catastrophe (Science Y6)

  • Tiling with Polygons (Maths Y6)

  • Participating in a Panel Dsicussion (Lgge Y7)

Didactic sequence

Didactic Sequence

Elements of a sequence

Elements of a Sequence

  • Choosing a theme

  • Integration and Contents

  • Genres

  • “Real Life Situation” – PERFORMANCE

  • Assessment

  • Two examples of projects

Didactic sequence 1 a choosing a theme

DidacticSequence # 1A) Choosing a theme

  • Related to community and world around

  • Social Relevance and significant to students reality

  • How can life conditions be transformed?


    2010 - Work and Consumerism

    2011 - Alterity

    Both years – debate on Child Labour following the Model United Nations format.

B integration and contents

B) Integration and Contents

Language arts:

- Written genres: country profile; position paper

- Oral genres: speeches; argumentation strategies

- Linguistic devices: showing opinion; argumentation

- Rules and procedures: debate; focus performance

Social Studies / History:

- Industrial Revolution

- Concept of Labor

- Contextualization and reasons behind Child Labor

in the world; investigating their countries actions

C genres

C) Genres

  • According to Bakhtin (1992), genres are understood as discursive practices with proper characteristics and specific social functions.

  • A social activity focuses on ways to produce, understand, interpret and memorize a group of genres necessary to an effective participation in a specific activity with a defined purpose (Liberali,2009).

  • Mastering a genre can be seen as the mastery of a communicative situation.

    Model U.N.

    • Expository / Research Report : country profile

    • Argumentative / Persuasive :

      a) position paper

      b) speeches

      c) debate

D real life situation performance

D) “Real Life Situation” - PERFORMANCE

  • Performance is probably the main goal and final outcome of a social activity.

  • In a performance, the subjects create other forms of relating to themselves, with others, with the world around them.

  • “Create who they are by being who they are not” (Holzman, 1997, p.73)

    “Participating in a Model United Nations Session”

    - adaptation of the real Model U.N

    - speeches, debating main issue, questions and

    answers (room for improvising)

    - voting on best position presented

Michael reuben stance dual school s o paulo brazil

Performance X

Role Playing

Script and sequence

Repetition of phrases

Focus on content


No room for improvising


Comfort zone

  • Decision and participation

  • Emotional involvement

  • Focus on procedure

  • Freedom

  • Room for improvising

  • Room for reflection and conflicts

  • Going beyond

  • Fosters ZPD

E assessment

E) Assessment

  • Diagnostic:

  • students perform and/or produce written assignments based on their previous knowledge; broader, more general indicators of performance are given

  • no input is given on language functions or content from other area

  • social activity that will be worked on is introduced through some media/text or other

  • students are asked to identify/discuss Who? What? Where? When? Why? Focus on the context of production of that particular activity

  • Feed back of teacher and other students; grades are attributed for some or all the steps above

Michael reuben stance dual school s o paulo brazil

2. Formative:- establishing clear expectations all along the process- constant feedback; possibilities to change course of action- evaluating all stages of the process, from collecting data to elaboration and planning of performance- elaborating your own proficiency indicators; from mastering specific content of the areas involved to language proficiency indicators- evaluating the chore products of the project (oral and written genres involved); evaluating performance- indicators for your expectations in collaborative / social / interactive work along the process (focus on procedures and active participation)

Example of indicators formative participating in a model united nations session

Example of indicators (formative)“Participating in a Model United Nations Session”

A – Identifies the context of production of the model U.N.

B – Is able to write a research report on a given country using the appropriate textual organization of the research report genre.

C – Identifies the element of a position paper; identifies the difference between position paper and expository paper; Is able to write a position paper on the issue of child labor.

E – Classifies where, when, why, how and in what conditions child labor is characterized; defines what is child labor.

F -Is able to express oneself in an informal debate, using appropriate language, pronunciation and intonation of a typical debate (also specific oral performance indicators)

G- Is able to perform in a formal debate, following the appropriate rules and procedures of the genre, defending a position of his (her) country, reaching consensus (or not) and proposing solutions (petitions) on the issue of child labor.

3 summative

3. Summative

  • Final exams that recover part of the activities, genres and content that were experienced during the project (focus on the process)

  • Using performance indicators given throughout formative assessment to build final exam

  • Time to assess the student individually; their potential development (compared to beginning)

Social activity didactic sequence summary

Social Activity :Didactic Sequence - Summary

  • Understand the context of production of the activity (social-historical context); Who? Where? What ? How? When? Why?

  • Initial performance (focus on previous knowledge; no input).

  • Introduce the genre(s) involved in the activity

  • Work on the textual organization of the genre(s) (focus on its social-communicative function)

  • Production of the genre(s)

  • Specific language functions to carry out the activity (grammar, specific vocabulary, etc.)

  • Grammar and content from subject areas are taught in a specific context and then extrapolated to other contexts.

  • Final performance (final evaluation).

  • Summative evaluation (final exam with all previous contents).

    (Reuben, et al, 2011)

Some s ources for creating performance indicators

Some sources for creating performance indicators:

1. PISA - Programme for International Student Assessment

  • Focuses on 3 broad groups of indicators according to level of proficiency/steps of the project:

    1. Recuperation / Identification / Reproduction of information

    2. Interpretation / Analysis / Explanation

    3. Reflection / Evaluation / Application

    2. Pre K-12 English Language Proficiency Standards (TESOL)

  • Focuses on constructing matrixes of proficiency indicators based on U.S. standards for all content areas.

  • Designed for Curriculum coordinators, educators and consultants.

  • Excellent to address assessment of inclusion students and/or different levels of proficiency.

Didactic sequence 2

Didactic Sequence #2

  • Theme: Sustainability (2009)

  • Integration: Language, Science, I.T. , Drama class, Arts

  • Genres and content: (next slide)

  • “Real Life Situation” / Performance: “Participating in a Public Awareness Campaign” (protest march)

  • Assessment: same as sequence #1

Curricular contents year 6 5th grade

Curricular Contents – Year 6 (5th grade)

Language Arts


Social Activity: Participating in a public awareness campaign

Subject Area Contents:

- Global warming: Causes and effects; technology

- Revolutionary actions to reduce global warming

- Cycles of water, carbon and oxygen

Social Activity: Developing a public awareness campaign

  • Genres:

    - Persuasive letter

    - Slogans

    - Posters

    - Campaign speeches

  • Linguistic devices related to argumentative genres



  • Social activity enables us to diminish the distance between school and real life

  • It creates and opens doors to future possibilities of being/becoming

  • Fosters curricular integration

  • It gives a potential chance of creating a more meaningful learning process for students with more involvement and interaction



To my coordinators Sarah Weiler and Andrea Miranda and colleagues at Stance.

Special thanks to:

Carlos Marotto (science and maths) and Daniel Pecego (language arts) for all the brainstorming and help on some of the ideas presented here regarding the social activity theory and more importantly for “making it happen” in real life through some of the wonderful projects we have presented along the years.

Dedication in memoriam of

Dedication In Memoriam of

Ana Maria David

Suggested bibliography

Suggested Bibliography

  • Leontyev, A.N; Activity and Consciousness - Philosophy in the USSR, Problems of Dialectical Materialism, 1977, pp. 180-202

  • Liberali, Fernanda; Atividade Social nas aulas de Língua Estrangeira, (2009)

  • Katz, Anne et al; Prek-12 English Language Proficiency Standards(2006)

Contact mikecr@bol com br stance dual school Dual School

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