Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Picture Word Inductive Model with Highschool Newcomers

I last posted about using PWIM with my elementary learners, and how much fun the process always seems to be for both me and my students. PWIM has a way of drawing students in, engaging them, and maintaining that engagement while accessing and internalizing loads of vocabulary.

Now that I'm at the highschool level, working with older newcomers, I wanted to share another series of the PWIM process with my readers. Our theme for the week was the kitchen (after talking about different places in the school), home to many rich vocabulary words and concepts. For the picture, I simply took one of the student foods lab. Here's how we broke it down.

As always, I modeled writing the words on the board. (I've also used the smartboard, then just saved the screen, but really prefer using half a poster board so I can continue to use it.

Here is mine (and yes, it's in color). If you don't have access to multiple color copies, at least get yours in color to accentuate details.

Note that we also use simple sketches to add more words as we think of them. (Nothing fancy here!)

The next day, we reviewed the words. I asked simple where and what questions for the students to demonstrate their understanding and what they remembered. Some students then felt confident enough to ask their own where/ what questions modeled after mine. This is also a good time to add additional words the students have thought of.

Students then sorted their words into different categories. The sort was open, and I provided examples using a document projector. You can see that this student divided his words according to appliances, things that need water, storage, and materials. Of course, this is just one way to categorize. I like starting with closed sorts, where we choose categories together. Once they understand the concept, they enjoy the challenge of open sorts. This is always tough for them, but it does make them think about the meaning, spelling patterns, part of speech, etc.--much more thought-provoking than typical vocabulary work!

If you feel your students need it, or if you are learning new sentence patterns, provide sentence frames for them to respond to "How do these words go together?":
  • These words go together because they are both _________________
  • These words can go together because they all (have, do, make, etc.) ________________
  • I believe these words go together...
And then, as students share out, practice agreeing and disagreeing:
  • I agree that those words go together.
  • I disagree. I think those words do not go together (because....)
  • What a good idea! I didn't think of that!
The next day, students filled in a cloze passage using the vocabulary words from the labeled picture. Students first listened to me read the entire passage, filled in, then they completed it independently. Once they finished, they read their passages to me, one by one. It was now a fluency passage, and they would practice reading it for "time" the next day. There were also sentences geared toward the cafeteria aspect of "the kitchen", which required them to draw pictures to demonstrate comprehension.


The fourth day, we actually went to a project lab kitchen for students in our school, so that we could cook and use different materials and ingredients. Students had a simple recipe, and were required to determine ingredients and cooking utensils/ materials. They worked in a group to accomplish this, with the recipe and graphic organizer separating materials, ingredients and steps.

They then worked together to translate the steps of the recipe before actually using it to make their dish. Once they had determined the steps, they began to measure, mix, and cook under watchful eyes.

While the food was cooking, we re-wrote the steps together, now using the past tense, on their recipe papers. 

On the fifth day, students reviewed with another cloze passage, using vocabulary words from day one, plus the words from the ingredients and materials lists. At the bottom of the page, you can see they also drew a sketch showing what they did in the kitchen that day. Their simple requirement was to use two new vocabulary words within one sentence. This student chose to label other parts of her picture.

The following week (day six), for their final assessment, students chose 2 pictures from the ones I had taken in the kitchen and had uploaded onto their computers.  Students wrote captions for them after uploading them into their kidblogs. (which is something new I'm trying this year!)

Here are some links for you to see their work:

We Are in the Kitchen
Fruit Dessert

Although the blogging part took more time than simply having them write a paragraph like I've done in the past, the students enjoyed it, and it was challenging enough to keep them engaged, without overwhelming them.

As an extension, some students used the Quicktime audio to record themselves reading the cloze passage as well as their own sentences about the pictures. We were going to upload those into their blogs, too, but the filters prevented us from doing so.

I hope this gives you some ideas for what PWIM can look like in a highschool newcomer class. These took about 40 min/ day of a 90 minute block. Our one day of cooking lasted the entire 90 minutes, but that was a busy day--students brought their work to the kitchen so we could work while the food was cooking.


  1. I've always liked the PWIM and appreciate how you made the vocab tactile and memorable. Genuine learning there!

    1. Thank you for your response. I enjoy tweaking the PWIM approach, and the kids always respond well. The key is good pictures and questions. Cooking definitely works as a motivator. :)

  2. Awesome! I can see so my applications. Thanks for your post. My mind's wheels are turning! ��

  3. Thanks, Anabel! It's a great sequence of learning for the students. I'm glad you found it useful. I see you're not far from me--let's collaborate!