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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Comprehension Processing Questions with videos

A few weeks ago, I wrote a short post about using Comprehension Processing Questions. I was asked for some follow-up information, so here is follow-up number one (yes, there is even more to come). 

I teach at an incredibly diverse school. Because we are in Texas, we tend to focus on our Spanish-speaking population, but we have students and families here from all over the world - Vietnam, Nigeria, Middle Eastern countries, South American countries. 

We are moving into a unit on expository text, and our first reading set is about immigrants and the challenges they face. Although some of my kids have a great deal of background knowledge in this area, some have none. So I searched for a video to help, and I ran across this: 

Although it had not come up in my summer training, I wanted to give my students something to focus on with this video. I created a Comprehension Processing Question to guide them: What do immigrant parents give up when moving to the United States? We discussed the question, and I clicked play. 

At first, my kids starting making notes in response to the CPQ, but I noticed that their pencils were being put down very quickly. I sat back and watched, wondering what was happening. As soon as some of my students started getting teary, I declared victory. I had, as the kids say, put my students all up in their feelings. That moment was worth so much more than their responses to the CPQ. 

We did, however, watch the video a second time in order to answer the question. My kids were able to discuss - in detail - what they had heard in the video. I do not show many videos in my class, but this certainly added value to what I was attempting to do with my lesson. 

Up next - CPQ with expository text. Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Spelling Madness
Yesterday was yearbook picture day for my middle schoolers. Because the length of time needed for each class to be photographed varies based on how many other classes are waiting, I was improvising time fillers upon each return to class - organize binders, work on homework, new seating charts. 

One of my classes is fifteen minutes longer than the rest due to our lunch schedule. We took pictures, then came back to class and created our new seat assignments - and I still had thirty minutes left. On a whim, I issued a spelling challenge that worked far better than I expected. 

I had my students take out an index card, and I gave them five words to spell: Wednesday, February, library, university (student requested word), and pneumonia (just for fun). I then called individual students up to the board who thought they spelled the word correctly. If that student was wrong, she/he called on someone else to come up and correctly spell the word. 

I was not expecting the madness that followed. My kids were raising their hands, pleading to be called upon, and jumping up and down.They were determined to show their classmates that they knew something. We do not conduct formal spelling lessons at this stage so having students get excited about spelling is like encountering the Northern Lights. But now that I know it is a way to sneak in spelling, I am certainly going to have to do it again. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Kagan Remixed

I am very fortunate to receive numerous opportunities for training in my district, but somehow, Kagan training has always bypassed me. That does not mean I will allow myself to be left out, however. I have grabbed bits and pieces here and there, and I use them in my classroom legally or illegally, gosh darn it! 

My favorite strategy to use is Stand Up - Hand Up - Pair Up. I like for my students to get up and move (because who wants to sit on a hard chair for seven hours a day), plus it gives them a chance to talk to different classmates. I can also incorporate reading,writing, listening, and speaking in one strategy, addressing the needs of my English language learners. 

from Cooperative Learning

For some reason, my eighth graders are not into the Hand Up part of the routine. So I have put my own spins on the strategy:

  • Remix #1: Speed Friending
    • This concept is similar to speed dating. The kids mix-and-mingle, like they would at a social gathering, sharing their work with different students. They have to communicate with three different people and make it "home before curfew." I call curfew two times. The first time, the kids are expected to wrap up and head back to their seats. The second time, they get "threatened" with grounding (and for some reason, they found this highly amusing). 
  • Remix #2: Dah Club
    • We are still doing the same thing, but I set the scene as a dance party. It's easy to turn on some music while kids are moving around. I even pull out some of my corniest dance moves and work the room while the students are engaged in their conversations. I am silly to begin with, so this is not out of character for me in the least. 
The strategy works without any revisions, but my students seem to be enjoying it more in the remixed versions. It's easily modifiable for any age group by simply adding a scene - playground, mall, football game. And secretly, I have ulterior motives to develop an Oscar-winning actor at some point in time.