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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Vocabulary Collectors: Explicit Teaching - Day 1

Due to a Monday holiday, a day-long meeting Tuesday, and my son getting in an accident with a hit-and-run driver Tuesday afternoon (he's fine), today was my first day back at school since Friday. And it was my day to introduce our new vocabulary collection routine. In years past, I probably would have handed the assignment out, gone over the examples, and left them to it. Now, I am much better at explicit teaching, and I think I did a pretty good job today.

I went through the presentation slowly - too slowly for some classes. I wanted the kids to have an opportunity to take notes and ask questions over my product requirements. Some kids wrote everything; others wrote nothing. We are going to finish our practice round tomorrow, so I will be curious to see what information the non-notetakers need again. 

Initially, the kids seemed to be turned off by the idea of coming up with their own words. My perception is that they lacked confidence in their own learning. To combat this, I picked a random subject and asked what they were learning about this week. The kids surprised themselves with the number of vocabulary words they were able to come up with - global warming, conduction, nullification, presidency, dividend, probability, factoring. The words spilled forth. They even realized that they were using the word conflict in both history and English. 

Once we chose a word, we went through the entire process step-by-step. We tried to determine parts of speech and meaning based on word parts before resorting to the dictionary.We worked to put definitions into student friendly terms. I had students pulling out spirals from other classes and helping provide information. Then I had them each choose their own product to create (most chose the symbolic representation, but I had some pretty great rhyming poetry for dividend). 

After completing the products, we did a gallery walk (some of them knew what that was without my even using the term), looking for what worked and what did not. This also gave my strugglers and opportunity to see what their classmates were creating to help give them ideas. There was a great deal of conversation about the words and the products without much direction from me.

The best word of the day was unorthodox. The history sub, a former student of mine, used the word in class this morning (he said it could not have happened because he does not know big words). I had allowed my students to use their phones to help get ideas to draw. 

One of my lower students brought her phone with this picture:

My response: Um...uh...see, what had happened was... 

I am a liberal living in conservative Texas and working in a conservative school district. Mine is an all-loving and accepting classroom. But, I did not know how to address this one. I handed it off to my co-teacher. With a bit of prompting, the student actually figured it out on her own. 

Today I saw cross-curricular connections, and more importantly, actual learning. I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings. 

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