Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Vocabulary Cards

I tried something new yesterday and I am glad to say it worked well and I will certainly use this strategy again!  I had my students create vocabulary cards.  I gave each student a piece of white copy paper and assigned them a vocabulary word.  The student folded the paper in half "hot dog style" and on the outside wrote the vocabulary word and drew an illustration that would help them remember the meaning of the word. I explained to the the students that in order for the pictures to help them, that the picture needed to be creative and colorful.  The more creative and colorful the pictures are, the more likely the students will be to remember the words and their meanings.


After the students created their picture they switched papers with a partner.  The next step was for the students to write a definition of the word in their own words.  I stressed to the students that writing the definition in their own words was vital, again this was to aid them in learning and remembering the words.  The students then wrote a sentence using the word in the correct context.

Today,  the students participated in a gallery walk, in which they used three column notes to create a study guide for their vocabulary quiz and to better understand the vocabulary as we study it in our current text.  For the three column notes the students had to list the word in the first column, a definition in their own words in the second column, and then a picture to help them remember and connect with the word in the third column.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Using analogies to promote critical thinking

Over the summer I had the opportunity to attend the AVID Summer Institute.  It was by far the best and most beneficial professional development workshop I have ever attended.  With that being said, I have tried to implement some of the strategies that I learned at the Summer Institute.  One of the strategies that I really liked and knew that I could use immediately is called "Synectic Analogous".  The basic premise of this idea is to have students create analogies.  I tried this activity in class yesterday.  It was amazing how quickly I could distinguish my literal thinkers from my "outside of the box" thinkers.  Anyway here's the basic gist of how to use this activity.

  1. Give your students four random categories.  (I used type of food, type of clothing, type of electronic, and type of furniture.)  
  2. Have the students list one answer for each of the four categories.  (I had the students work in groups of 3-4 and gave them less than five minutes to complete this portion of the assignment.)
  3. Explain to the students that they must compare the items they listed to the main character in the text.  (We were reading "My Favorite Chaperone" by Jean Davies Okimoto.)
  4. My students used the RACE strategy (R-restate the question, A- answer the question, C- cite textual evidence, E- explain the evidence) to complete step three.  
Sample Answer:

Maya, from "My Favorite Chaperone", is like a dining room table because everyone depends on her to support them.  Maya not only has to help her family by watching out for her brother she also has to translate for her father when Nurzhan, her brother, gets in a fight and when her mom's employers call.  Maya also must give up her love of gymnastics when her mother hurts her ankle.  During this time she has to go to school, do her mother's cleaning jobs, and cook dinner for the family.  These examples prove the extent to which Maya's family places things on her shoulders and depends on her to help carry the families burdens, just as each day we depend on a dining room table to hold whatever we may place upon it.



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Gallery walks and musical partners

Some of my students are still struggling with writing level two and level three questions on their Cornell Notes.  I knew I had to help them get a better grasp of this skill and what better way to do this, but to show them the great examples their peers were writing.  I selected twelve examples and placed them around the hallways outside of my room.  By placing them in the hallway, I have more space for my students to move about.  I then numbered the students off one to twelve and sent them on their way.  At each stop along the gallery walk the students wrote the question and then answered it.  Not only did this activity provide them with models that they could use later, by answering the questions, they were applying and studying the content that they would have a quiz on.  Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!!  I was able to skill two birds with one very small, simple stone.

After the students completed the gallery walk we went back to the classroom and the students shared their answers through a strategy I like to call musical partners.  With this strategy I play a song and the students have to find a partner before the music stops.  Once the music stops and they have a partner, they discussed the answers they recorded during the gallery walk.  When the music starts again, they find a new partner and we begin the process again.  The students love the music and the opportunity to move and talk.  This strategy is simple to plan and takes very little class time.