Thursday, November 15, 2012

Listen, draw, and learn

If you've ever thought about having your kids draw pix to visualize, but wondered if it was worthwhile, read on......

I decided to try the art of visualization with my English Language Learners during a read aloud. We were completing the last chapter of The One and Only Ivan, and I wanted to make sure the students truly understood what was happening.
We had tried random sketches before, which engaged them, but some of their work showed that they weren't drawing the part of the story that we were actually listening to...
So, time for different scaffolding.

Here is what we did:
1. They folded their papers into 6 sections.
2. As I read aloud, I stopped every couple of pages at pre-determined points and, as a group, we discussed what had happened.
3. We then discussed how we might visualize those events/ thoughts.

4. We did the first one together, as I sketched on my own paper, too.
(I debated doing this, as I sooo wanted them to make their very own visuals, but then I thought of how I felt when I first started practicing visualizing myself. It was HARD to do, and I used to look at books to get ideas. Only then did I feel confident enough to try it on my own!)
5. We continued this, with scaffolded discussion, and talking about appropriate visuals...but...
6. ...within the span of 6 sketch frames, they seemed to get it because they were envisioning their own ideas, and were able to express their thoughts independently, in both words and pictures.

Once we finished with the visuals my students did a quick retell with partners, before sharing with the group.
Along with practicing presentation skills, this helped further demonstrate their comprehension levels.
As you can see, visualizing and writing a brief description of each picture was the focus--rather than perfect grammar.

This all happened within a 30 minute class period.

If you haven't tried visuals with your kids, obviously I would encourage it!! Even a little bit can be very telling for you and very engaging for them!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Using Picture Word Induction with beginning ELLs

This activity really encompasses a lot of vocabulary, its context, and use. It can be intense, but many bases can be covered. It's also pretty easy to individualize, with built-in means of differentiation. For those who are interested in seeing what it looks like with 2nd and 3rd grade newcomers, here are the steps. As you will see, this is a great activity to introduce topics with any group of learners, to review topics or to get a feel for cultural differences in perception. Very interesting discussions can arise! These steps took about 2 weeks, 5 days/ week, 20 minutes/ day.

 Step 1: Brainstorm words, concepts, phrases together based on a context-rich picture. Students label their individual copies of the picture as you label yours (on larger paper, smartboard, etc.)

Step 2: Write the words onto a paper, which they then cut out in order to manipulate them more easily. Students determine relationships between words and sort them into categories. Ask students continually how the words are similar, what they have in common, how they are alike, and let them explain. It's great for showing how they make meaning of the world around them, and they will inevitably surprise you with certain connections. My students used sentence frames to respond: "_______ and ______ go together because_______".  Also, "_________ and _________ are alike because ________".
As you can see in this example, this student also went through and boxed all the digraphs and blends she found because we've been working on these patterns in word study.  Students also added words in pencil to their lists during their independent writing when there was a new concept. We will be working on "naming" categories with the next go-round. That proved to be the toughest part even though they could explain their connections.
Step 3: Students then fill in a cloze activity based on the words they generated and the picture. I used several prepositions in this one for location, which provided another few teachable moments, among others. Lots of opportunities for extensions in this type of activity. We started this one out together, because it was their first time, and they needed to learn to read all the way to the period before trying to answer. By the end, they were navigating their way through the sentences with each other.
Step 4: My students then cut out pictures from a Scholastic reader depicting school rooms in other countries and referenced their vocabulary, cloze sentences, and discussion ideas to write about the images independently. They were daunted at first, but after talking about what they saw in each other's pictures, the ideas started flowing. I interjected occasionally to ask them what else they saw, what they noticed, what is different/ the same from what we know, and reminded them of their word relationships.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for the ideas, but I hope any modifications did his version justice. :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sequencing, measuring, and mixing, oh my!

3rd grade Junior Chefs learn their way around the kitchen--reading recipes, sequencing steps, measuring ingredients, then retelling it in writing for others! Not to mention tossing a bit of geography into the mix! Waaaay more fun than a worksheet. ;) And it only took 40 minutes. Talk about covering the curricular bases, with an absolutely "authentic" product to boot. They are traveling "around the world, one recipe at a time", and if you don't have as much fun as they did making a Costa Rican Cooler, then you really missed out! Next stop, India....