Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Tangled" Up in Vocabulary

How do you get students hooked on words? Act out the word? Show a picture? Play a video? Any way to have students experience a word beyond a simple definition can help them move the meaning of the word into memory.

Imagine the word "tangled." Think about what new meanings students may generate after watching this short video clip. Or think about how this movie clip may engage students differently.

Once students are hooked into the word, further learning and exploration can begin. We use an Academic Vocab Notebook for some of our students. The goal of our Academic Vocabulary Notebook is to get students to "own" the words. Use them! Play with them! Weave them into their writing.

For each story that students read from our reading series, we pick two words. Two words that are more like Tier 2 words. Words that have multiple meanings and can be used in different contexts. Click on the image above to see the template that is tweaked for each word.

To begin our word study, we talk about the pronunciation and different forms of the words. This is a great place to add any new forms that might be discovered later on. The goal is not to learn the word once, but to recycle and revisit the words often. It also is a place to discuss prefixes, suffixes, and roots. Moving along, we talk about synonyms, antonyms, and the definitions. Once again, students can revisit and add other words to their pages as they become more proficient in using the words. Rather than spending time looking up the definitions of these words up, students are given the information so they can begin to develop a foundational understanding of the words and add to their understanding through experiences.

As a class, discussion focuses on the part labeled, "In-class examples..." Students can work independently, then with a partner, and then as a class to build a broader sense of understanding of the word through multiple lenses. To continue to explore the word, the first question of the bottom three questions is used. Students work on it independently and then share their thoughts. Misconceptions can be clarified; and elaboration of understanding can be encouraged.  This concludes the guided portion of the Academic Notebook.

If you notice on the template, there are three stars. These are the sections that students complete independently throughout the week. The picture focuses on the visual understanding of the word. Students love to draw! Students are encouraged to look beyond the obvious. Then students move to the bottom two questions with stars. These are not intended to be rote recall. These questions are designed to require students to play with the words once again through multiple lenses and apply their understanding.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Anchor Mat: Note Taking for Graphing Linear Equations

Here is a quick way to help students organize notes/key ideas from a lesson/unit. I used this anchor mat with my Algebra students when learning how to graph linear equations.  Key information from the unit was in one location, and students could "anchor" their learning back to this chart. Click on the image below to grab a copy.
Clipart frames: Creative Clips. Fonts: Hello Fonts.
 Here are some different ways I use anchor mats in math:
  • Students can complete an anchor mat as a SHOW WHAT YOU KNOW before a unit of study. If used as a preassessment tool, responses can be used to help identify readiness levels of students.
  • Students can fill out an anchor mat during instruction to keep track of key ideas. Then students can refer to this math tool throughout the unit.
  • An anchor mat can be used as a formative tool after instruction to determine where students may need additional support/practice. Students can be asked to fill out what they know independently.
  • An anchor mat can be used to generate math talk. Students can first fill out their anchor mats with what they already know. Then students can pair-share with several partners. With a different colored writing tool, students can add any information they may hear from their partner(s) that they did not originally include. Also, students can correct any misconceptions during the pair-share (Note: I truly believe that "brain loves color." When students use a different color to record ideas from others, it helps them to see what information they knew originally versus what information was added from classmates.
  • Anchor mats can be used graffiti-style before a test. In a group of  4 to 6 students, each student can be given a different color marker to write with. Given a set amount of time, students record information they know. When given a signal, they switch papers with another person in their group. Each student reads what is written and adds any new information that is not included and/or corrects any incorrect information. The process continues until the paper is returned to its original owner. At that point, students see that their original anchor mats have "exploded" with color and information. And in the process, they may have learned or reaffirmed what they already knew by reading what other people wrote! A win-win!
  • An anchor mat can be projected onto a whiteboard, and students can use sticky notes to add ideas to the different sections. Students should be encouraged to represent information pictorially, with words, and with examples.
  • A word bank can be given to students with key words that should be included on their anchor mats. I am always looking for different ways to embed the 8 Standards of Mathematical Practice into instruction. Creating a word bank helps students to attend to the use of clear and precise vocabulary when communicating ideas (Mathematical Practice #6).
  • Students can use their anchor mats as study tools.
Anchor mats are quite versatile. They can be used with any topic. They can cover a broad concept like graphing linear equations or a more narrow concept like slope.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Bit of Reading

If you have visited my blog in the past, you might have noticed my posts covered topics in math. Have you visited my Pinterest boards? Now, there you will find nothing but math. I have over 4,000 followers and counting. Guess a lot of people like math! If you haven't checked it out...give it a try. You might find something you can use with your students!

The reality is, my world is not all math. I thought I would start sharing some reading ideas too. I recently have gotten into this phase of creating anchor mats for learning. I know anchor charts have a predominant place in many classrooms, but I like students to have their own that they can revisit throughout the year. I am a firm believer in recycling and revisiting key skills.

I recently uploaded a freebie in my TpT store to use when students are asked to find the lesson of a story. This skill is introduced to students in first grade with CCSS 1.RL.2 and continues to build in grades 2 (2.RL.2) and 3 (3.RL.2). By grade 4, students are asked to find the theme.

The anchor mat explores what a lesson is. Students can learn lessons in many different ways! The organizer can be used for students to record their thinking.

Some of the images on these pages are in color, but the pages can be printed in grayscale to save ink. Or students can put the pages into a plastic sleeve and use a wipe-off marker to respond. Or using a document camera, the pages can be projected onto a whiteboard. Students can respond on sticky notes and then add their sticky notes to each section. Students then can compare their ideas.

Click on the image above to view the download. If you give it a try, please leave feedback. I hearing and learning from others.