The #Engchat tonight was about bridging the high school/college gap-a subject many of my students and colleagues are adverse to even acknowledging.
Lee Skallerup sums it up nicely:
In college, we want students to interact with the words and ideas, formulate their own informed by their readings and ideas. -@readywriting
Paul W. Hankins had a great idea for teaching the more basic parts of research skills (as he explained them to me in a few tweets).
I am finding each year that categorization, classification, and definition are skills my students do not bring with them…So have students do ABC books to practice!... I have 30 great ABC books. ABC BOOK is the category. Then we classify. But first, we talk about qualities of the genre….
He also gave me some new search engines:
I move students away from Google with sites like SweetSearch and DuckDuckGo for example. Better returns on searches.-@PaulWHankins
Jennie Brown Also challenge them to use multiple sources often-@jenniekaywrites
Bradley Zakarin reminds us: 1) Reading is pre-writing. 2) Writing w/ SOURCES (& citing them) is vital skill. He also shared a great resource I didn’t know about:
I love Graff's _They Say/I Say_, which gives templates to summarize & pivot into own thoughts. -@bzeducon
Janine Utell suggests that in order for students to see the overlap in writing skills among disciplines: I have my colleagues come sit in and talk to them about this. They see us collaborating and talking. Helps it stick! -@janineutell
Thanks for the great ideas everyone!
*Did you notice the 'Word of the Week' in my post?
iWords is an Interactive Audio Program for vocabulary. This Interactive Audio Program includes definitions, pronunciations, and examples of usage for all 300 words in each Vocabulary Workshop level! Start listening and learning today!
Check out the "Word of the Week" - Adverse
Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. Wordle can be a great vocabulary tool. Challenge students to create a "word cloud" for an assigned vocabulary word using synonyms, antonyms etc. without the use of a textbook or notes!
Learning Chocolate is a site designed to help memorize English, Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin) or Spanish vocabulary through a series of exercises that use pictures and sounds.
One of my favorite games growing up was “Mother, May I” where participants took turns asking the “Mother” if s/he could step forward in a certain style (ballet twirl, giant step, march etc). The first one to “Mother” won!
Well today I’m thinking my new vocabulary strategy is to have students play this as a vocabulary game in the classroom.
I would model first with a group of five students (the teacher playing the role “Mother”), then have those five volunteers each become the “Mother” for a group of 4-6 (depending on the size of your class).
Here’s how to play:
As long as the student uses a vocabulary word correctly in asking to take a step forward, s/he is allowed to step (no playing favorites). However, the size of the steps should be uniform –establish the size with your class ahead of time to avoid problems with classroom management when students break out into smaller groups. Also, during a single round, only one student can use each word to avoid all students simply reiterating the same question.
Finally, for even further vocabulary building, instead of playing “Mother May I” as an isolated game, have a day (or a week, or make this a classroom habit) where students must invoke a vocabulary word any time they want to move.
If students have to sharpen their pencils, they must first ask, “Teacher, I would prefer a sharp pencil-may I move to the sharpener?”
If they volunteer to use the Smartboard, before they can head to the front of the classroom, they must ask to do so: “I am somewhat restless-please allow me to walk to the front of the room and use the Smartboard.”
If you have time- you can dismiss students for specials, recess or lunch by requiring them to use a vocabulary word asking for permission to leave. The more creative (and vocabulary filled) the request, the more zany they can act on the way out the door.
I think this game can work at any age, so know that is it a great vocabulary activity for middle school students-and even high school students-in addition to being a fun elementary vocabulary game; it makes teaching vocabulary and learning vocabulary so much fun!
Common Core Standards (Using 3rd grade standards which can be scaled up or down)
Language Standard 3.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Language Standard 3.3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
Language Standard 3.5. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
Language Standard 3.6. Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases…
photo © iStockphoto
The focus of last night’s #engchat (combined with the Social Studies chat #sschat) was Common Core Reading/Writing/Vocabulary Strategies.
I love Cyberman Jerry’s website-and since he was moderating, he had a whole page devoted to his questions and background on the Common Core principles he used to develop them!
Q1 How can we staircase/scaffold reading assignments in order to get students to higher order thinking & comprehension? #engsschat
Class debates are a great way!! Pair up, chose a pertinent topic, research from their readings, and -voila! @GeoPenny
Q2 What are some strategies to develop student writing & thesis statements to create clearer more reasoned written arguments? #engsschat
Q3 How can we incorporate collaborative/cooperative learning strategies to help build better speaking & listening skills? #engsschat
Class debates are a great way!! Pair up, chose a pertinent topic, research from their readings, & voila! @GeoPenny
The last two questions focused on vocabulary ideas & web resources for all ideas. I think my website is great for vocabulary ideas, and I also have a friend who wrote this amazing post about vocabulary resources & the gap between socio-economic groups and vocabulary! Check out I Teach Bay blog.
Students should learn to love discovering new vocabulary words even when they aren't in the classroom. Vocabulary.com offers free word puzzles and activities that may entice students to expand their word knowledge at home!
Visuwords.com is an online graphical dictionary that can be used to help students see the complexity of words and language. This free resource could really spice up vocabulary instruction.
Why not combine vocabulary practice and philanthropy! Freerice.com is a unique platform that works to positively impact more than just learning. For each correct answer, Freerice.com donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.
Ilsa Bick is the definition of cool; she’s ex-air force and knows how to survive in the wilderness, is a child psychiatrist by day, and has written 15 books in her “spare time.” Plus, she describes herself as “peripatetic”-an awesome vocabulary word I had to look up (it means one who wanders from place to place).
Bick’s novels are full of action, interesting details, strong characters and unique plotlines. I’m fascinated by all that she has accomplished; I’d definitely want her on my team for a wilderness expedition or a writing competition!
What I liked best about Bick’s interview was how she justified a new use of an old word, and says that’s why you need to know your words—so you know enough to play!
What a great idea to share with your students at the start of your vocabulary instruction or your writing instruction-enjoy!
Stop by Paperback Writer:The Online Home of Ilsa J. Bick
Follow Ilsa on Twitter
I really enjoyed this Monday’s #engchat because literary analysis is the focus of so much of my teaching! Here are some of the ideas I gleaned & contributed from the conversation:
Best Definition of Analytical Thinking
Analytical thinking is the ability to take info from multiple sources, question and critique it, then reshape it and make it ur own via @jgmac1106
How to Lead Analytical Thinking in the Classroom
@jgmac1106 then suggested to start early by looking at word meanings in poetry
Start the process of literary "analysis" with their observations about language and what the implications could be=useful via @Janineutell
Most recently, I did a 4 pt buildup... Wordle & reflect, Google Doc comment & reflect, constructed response quiz, term paper via @John_DAdamo
How to Guide Literary Analysis Essays
I'm constantly selling "context/quote/analysis" as a model for essay writing, but as a thought process, analysis should be first via @lpahomov
I sell "Clear. Concrete. Specific" as a mantra for paper writing. I got it from a great teacher via @mrlundblade
Sometimes I make them start with "This quote proves my thesis because..." <-- and then they delete that line later via @lpahomov
Alternative Analysis Assignment:
Create an imaginary dinner party where you have invited all sources to discuss ur topic. u host & ask questions …then imagine how the sources would respond to ur questions & to each other via @G.Sipley
I loved the focus on words in terms of analysis. I think students often feel overwhelmed by analysis, so starting with just a few simple words & asking how those create tone, shape character, etc is a great way to start the conversation. Plus, the focus is on language-yay for Vocab Gal!
I was walking through the aviary at the zoo on Sunday when the word “gregarious” caught my eye. Now “gregarious” is a word I love, as I remember it by thinking of the gregarious Greg Brady from The Brady Bunch…but in this case it was describing a chatty bird, rather than a chatty 70’s show icon.
I quickly snapped a photo to add to my “found vocabulary” collection and moved on, but later, I couldn’t stop thinking about what a great vocabulary activity writing museum signs could be.
So my inspiration for this week’s fun vocabulary activity comes from the last several months of “vocabulary spotting” at museums-whether it be the Missouri History Museum or the Aviary at the St. Louis Zoo.
Step 1: Ask your students what they love, or what their hobbies are (i.e. Superheroes, My Little Pony, Plants, Japanese Comic Books, Cars, Cheerleading-whatever it may be). Next, have them plan a museum based around that love/hobby. If you want, have them check out this list of museums for ideas, but let them know it can be as creative as they want!
Step 2: Have them decide upon 4 items they want to display in their museum (you can add to this specific number of items, I am just keeping it at a class period minimum).
Step 3: Ask students to write out the placards for each display item, using at least 2 vocabulary words per placard (see “Virtual Museum” vocabulary handout). Tell students that when writing the placard, the goal is to explain the significance of each item-why is it important in the collection and what is its function.
Not only does the writing of the placards involve vocabulary practice, but it is also a great writing project that can improve students’ writing skills in the informational and technical writing fields (see Writing Common Core Standard 2!). They can draw or find pictures of each item to add next to each placard, if you are using the handout for the final tour-see “Alternatives” at the end of the directions if you wanted to expand this activity.
Step 4: Have students write a “Welcome to the museum” at the top of their vocabulary worksheet, with the overall history of the subject, what the student hopes visitors will get out of the museum tour, etc. Have students use at least 3 vocabulary words in their welcome.
Step 5: Hang up the “virtual museum” pages around the classroom and have students “tour” the various museums, leaving comment cards for at least 5 of the museums (I would require each comment card to contain at least 1 vocabulary word used in context).
This museum tour is hopefully another vocabulary resource in which students can learn to associate vocabulary words with the hobbies they love, and everyone gets a chance to learn more about each student! Vocabulary acquisition made fun AND educational.
A. Have students create actual virtual museums: Check out Virtual Free Sites for museum inspirations and use Glogster to create the posters. Students can still take tours of other students work and leave comments.
B. Have students create larger posters or trifold display boards for a more formalized effect. This activity can be combined with science or history projects!
C. Have students bring in actual items to place next to placards and place “museums” on various tables around the room. Perhaps host 5 tours a day for students to check out and comment on the museums during free time.
Common Core State Standards:
Language Standard 4: Determining Word Meaning
Language Standard 6: Acquire and Use Words Accurately in Specific Situations
Writing Standard 2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
The #engchat topic for the week was teachers as educational entrepreneurs. I definitely agree that we often have to “sell” our kids our curriculum by showing them the real world applications of the skills they are learning. I personally like to Skype with friends and family with jobs outside of the educational field, so they can share with my students stories about how being a strong writer/reader has helped them accomplish more professionally.
I also try to give my students authentic projects. My favorite is giving them the task of finding a community problem, researching it, finding a solution, addressing any drawbacks to that solution, then creating a presentation to share their solution with someone who can help them facilitate change-whether it be our principal, our town’s City Manager, the YMCA director, etc.
Another major topic was the concept of making sure we help teach kids how to be part of the ‘moral economy.’ I think the more we can collaborate with other disciplines to help promote positive ideas in the community, the better. I know several teachers in my English department who have students write, produce, film, edit and ultimately create public service announcements regarding local topics. The more we show are students that they can be seeds of change, the more their learning can grow!
Check back for my thoughts on next week’s #engchat next Tuesday.
Writing 25 Word Stories
Bill Ferriter, the teacher behind The Tempered Radical blog, summed up this fantastically simple concept when he wrote, "Well, a 25 word story is exactly what it sounds like: A 25 word story."
Writing 25 Word Stories is an activity that emphasizes word choice and blends technology with writing!
25 Word Stories can be written, text messaged, or tweeted (hashtag #25wordstory)
Each story should have a clear beginning, middle and ending
For more instructions download this handout by Bill Ferriter
Challenge students to use vocabulary words with this FREE word list
February 7th is the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s birth! The New York Times Learning Network and the Web English Teacher have compiled some Bright Ideas for celebrating Dickens in the classroom.
Here are some of my favorite finds!
My goal as Vocab Gal is to add vim and vigor to vocabulary instruction! One Bright Idea for getting kids excited about learning vocabulary is vocab apps. These fun apps found on Common Sense Media are a great way to broaden students' verbal collection.
I have been a huge Jack Gantos fan for many years now, and so I am thrilled that he won the 2011 Newbery Award for his latest novel (and pseudo memoir) Dead End in Norvelt.
I was first in line back in September when he came to St. Louis for a book tour of Dead End… and so read it and loved it long before last Tuesday’s Newbery announcement (now, I hear it’s out of stock on Amazon, and I’m trying not to act smug J!).
Gantos’ wry humor, interesting insights and unique outlook all make my interview with him one for all his fans-from elementary Jack and Joey readers to high school Hole in my Life aficionados –and all the new readers who hopefully will begin to appreciate his hilarious and poignant writing!
Check out the world of Jack Gantos at www.jackgantos.com; thanks again to Jack for his time and thoughtful answers!
Jack Gantos Facebook Fan Page