I am so so excited to be linking up with The Primary Chalkboard for the No Worksheet Wednesdays series! How did this idea start? It was the idea of the amazing Christina, from Sugar and Spice with Miss DeCarbo. She had just returned from the National Reading Recovery Conference, and had picked up a few professional reading books. Among them, was the book:
A lively and interesting discussion followed, and we all agreed that it was time to go "back to basics." So here we are! Future link-ups will be held on these dates:
So, what did I do two Wednesdays ago in preparation for this link-up? Well, we were still working on our Presidents' Day Flip Book. More specifically, we were set to read and learn about the responsibilities of the president. I knew I needed to get my second graders to a place where they could accomplish this task on Thursday:
So, before we read the text, we focused on some hands-on vocabulary building...old school style, and made Word Posters. Here's how I did it:
1) Required Skills Mini-Lesson: Whole class mini-lesson on dictionary skills (abc order and guide words)
2) Guided Practice: We did a sample poster together. I left it pretty open-ended, and told them they could represent the word in any way they thought would be helpful. (pictures, definition, examples, cut-out photographs, and even non-examples)
These are the rules that we have come up with together, during the course of the year. Each time we have a collaborative task, we always wrap it up with a discussion about our "successes" and "challenges". Students share any issues that came up in their groups, and then students work on coming up with a solution. We add the solutions to our poster. This makes the rules relevant and meaningful to my students.
4) Independent Practice: Students went off with their partners to go create their posters. They looked up their word in a dictionary, and worked on paraphrasing what their word meant. I made sure the poster paper was large enough so that all 3 group members could be contributing to their poster at the same time. By leaving this task open, all students were able to participate. I loved that even my students who struggle with reading and writing were able to add drawings and labels that represented their word, and made their learning evident.
All Hands On Deck = A Happy Teacher!
Here are a few finished posters:
Think the poster above is a little bare? That's ok, because we will add examples and character's names throughout the year who demonstrate this trait!
Their posters were seriously cute and authentic (not perfect), and they loved making them! As a teacher, the discussions I heard while walking around were rich and meaningful. Students were negotiating, compromising, agreeing and disagreeing respectfully, and coming to a consensus.
5) Group Presentations: Each group was then asked to present their word to the class. Each student was expected to contribute to their group's presentation. After the group is done, we use a wonderful idea I got from Stephanie Harvey. After students share, the audience may respond with:
a) a Comment
b) Connection (In my classroom, this has become "Important Connection", to make sure we stay focused on the big ideas)
d) I also added the option of "Suggestion". The audience members usually have lots of suggestions for each group.
After all groups had finished, I gave all of the groups an additional 5 minutes to add any ideas to their posters. These posters now hang in our classroom, and are a great focus wall for character trait discussions during our ELA block.
6) Debrief: Don't forget to go over the "successes and challenges" of working together.
The next day, we were all set to read! We did a quick review of the words using a Powerpoint that I had made (which I will get into in a future post). (BTW: My approach to vocabulary instruction is based on the work of Isabel Beck. If you have not read her book...it is amazing!)
With all of this background knowledge about the vocabulary, the students did a wonderful job finding text evidence to complete our reading task, the following day!
Here is a little freebie poster that you could use in your room for having students respond to each other. This poster works well for all subject areas, including math!
Don't forget to check out all of these other amazing No Worksheet Wednesday ideas. (click below)