Morpheus: There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. The Matrix 1999
Wow, I just found a new graphic organizer. Or maybe I knew about it before, but I didn’t understand it well enough to realize its potential. This matrix should be great for vocabulary development. It will help students make connections, organize their thinking, and use their new vocabulary appropriately.
Here is an example from a new product I am currently creating. Students will grow in understanding about the similarities and differences among these various grasslands as they research information to complete the matrix. The new words prairie, savanna, steppes, and pampas will become more familiar and better understood. (My newest product “Grassland Animals Scavenger Hunt” could be used with this matrix.)
Another matrix that could be used with many grade levels compares the seasons. From kindergarten upwards students could add information at their own level of understanding.
We need our students to think. For many they are trained to put answers on a line. If there is no line, there must be no question. The directions and information above the lines can easily be ignored. The whole exercise, for those who can get it all right without reading and for those who can get is mostly wrong without reading, is a waste of time. This is one example of why I feel so strongly about conversation as a learning tool. This same exercise, shared with a partner with the expectation that answers need to be defended, requires thinking. The students can learn more about what they know and/or what they don’t know.
Graphic organizers are a great way to have students think. I have created a formative assessment called “Know or No”. I give students a list of words on a current topic for them to rate their knowledge. They can then line up in a continuum showing their understanding. This line is then folded and students are paired to talk about the word(s). This formative assessment can used before, during, and after instruction. Students, of course, should grow in their knowledge, but they should also be aware of that growth.
Another great graphic organizer to use is a tree chart. Students fill in each section with whatever information they can think of. For example; thinking – always… helps, thinking – sometimes… is hard, thinking – never… costs money. I have seen many of these on TPT and have made many of my own. Here is a new one on Thinking for today’s blog. The others are examples of ones I have used with my class.
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.
Once again Ms. Angelou states beautifully a truth. This time it is about comprehension. Here is the difficulty for children; once they can read the words, they must learn to read beyond, beneath, and between the words. We want children to be able to discern the author’s true purpose and meaning. We must help them learn to infer meaning. This inference can begin with understanding individual words and move on to finding the universal theme set forth in the text.
The Comprehension Toolkit lessons by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis provide several fine lessons for this in their 4th book of the set, Infer Meaning. Its biggest lesson is Background Knowledge + Text Clues = Inference. (BK + TC = I). They give the students strategies for learning to do this important work. I love how the first lesson focuses on vocabulary. We refer to this lesson often in my classroom.
Book 4 includes 6 lessons. All of them bring important skills to the students’ attention.
1. Infer the Meaning of Unfamiliar Words
2.Infer with Text Clues
3. Tackle the meaning of language
4. Crack Open Features: Infer the Meaning of Subheads and Titles
Another strategy we use often is to read with a question in mind. Students need to look through the text features to pique their interest. They may bring some background knowledge to the text. They should stop first to think what they already know and ask a question of the text.
One of the most moving lessons is on theme. It uses the text Cheyenne Again by Eve Bunting. The lesson helps the students feel more deeply the meaning of the text and helps them gain a more profound understanding.
These are valuable lessons. I hope you can use them.
The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love. Margaret Atwood
I wonder how many words we have for some important topics. It has always seemed to me that someone discovered this factoid and thought it was really amazing, but didn’t really do any research on our language to discover which words fill up our vocabularies. A brief search on Merriam-Webster.com had me counting over 100 synonyms for love. This could be a great topic for discussion in a classroom. Which words do we have them most synonyms for? Which words are used in the most ways?
I created this snowman bioglyph for a fun following directions activity for my class. It also gives the students an opportunity to use their observation skills to discover differences between themselves and their classmates. I love the word bioglyph. It literally means “life picture”. When students complete a bioglyph they have a picture that represents something about their lives.
This one is great because it also shows if students understand the cardinal and intermediate directions.
Our snowman bioglyphs were especially fun for us because many of my students rarely if ever see snow. They don’t understand how a snowman is built or how heavy or cold it really is. We had a very good conversation throughout their work. Here are some pictures of my students working. After we made our bioglyphs I made a couple of changes to the directions page and the snowman to make them easier and better. Nothing like classroom testing to improve a products!
My Snowman Bioglyph product is currently available at my Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook stores at a special low price. Also watch my Facebook page as it will be a flash freebie for one hour each day this week!
“1 big speech can change 1 big world.” Kaylee, age 8
One of my students wrote this statement yesterday. It was written in response to an assignment to write a sentence using adjectives. This is the skill we focused on with our Mentor Sentences this week. Kaylee synthesized what we had been talking about with adjectives and our week long references to Dr. King into a very spectacular thought.
Since Monday is both MLK day and Inauguration Day, speeches are indeed an appropriate topic for the day. Here vocabulary is chosen carefully, strongly, and for impact. Consider Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, Churchill’s “We will fight them on the beaches”, Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you” and “We choose to go to the moon” speeches as speeches that brought dramatic change to our world. Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech has become a part of our country’s vocabulary.
Maybe Monday will bring a memorable speech. We can hope that words can be spoken to improve our country and our world. Mr. Obama brings hope for many in a way similar to Dr. King. It would be of amazing benefit if he could find words of healing and of progress. Here is an opportunity, at least, to compare these two men who have changed our world.
The day’s name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term started before 1961 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are “in the black”. -Wikipedia
The fact that our language, and in fact all language, is a growing and changing entity is so fascinating. I have reached an age where I can remember when some out-of-date words were in common use, like pocketbook, billfold, and drainboard. I’ve seen terms become moot like typewriter and record player. And, heaven knows, I seen many, many words, especially technology related, join our vocabulary.
Children don’t know, because of their limited personal history, that language grows and changes. It is a fun topic to explore! It is also fun to realize there is a “classroom vernacular” developing within your own classroom. Most every example in my classroom include Fred and his elephants. The kids come to expect it, and love it.
My Teachers Notebook shop is 25% off today through Monday. Plus TN will have 10% off everything Saturday through Monday.
The big Cyber Sale begins on Monday at Teachers Pay Teachers. My sale starts Sunday in case you want a head start!
I have also promised December Holiday Word of the Day cards. Here’s today’s card.
I have updated my National Holiday Word of the Day cards. I felt like they had too much color for printing. You can compare my newest card to the Veterans Day card I posted last Sunday. The 10 official national holidays each have a card. I will being making an additional card for Inauguration Day. I will post it sometime soon.
Included in this set are additional vocabulary cards. For example, for Veterans Day I have a card that defines “veteran”. For Memorial Day I have a card that defines “memorial”. For Dr. King’s birthday the card defines “civil rights”. Altogether there are 22 Word of the Day cards, 4 worksheets for learning the meanings, and a vocabulary list.