Additional DigiLit posts can be found at Margaret Simon’s blog, Reflections on the Teche. Check them out here!
I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing “feral” posted in a variety of tweets and blogs over the last year. I know what I thought it meant but before writing this morning, I decided to “see” what a definition really looked like! Here’s what I found!
What if our students were encouraged to have feral vocabulary experiences?
Would that be too extreme?
What if students were thinking users of vocabulary?
That was the premise of a session led by Katy Wischow (@kw625) at the 89th #TCRWP Saturday Reunion that was summarized in this post. Vocabulary is complicated. It cannot all be taught through context. But when do we KNOW that a student really knows a word?
I believe that it’s when a student owns the word and uses it in his/her writing and quietly sit and wait for the teacher response after the word is found. It’s also when the student says, “Ms. M, I tried out “plethora”. I think it works; please check it out for me!”
I gained an even deeper understanding of vocabulary at #NCTE16 with a presentation by Valerie Geschwind, Shana Frazin, Katy Wischow, and Char Shylock summarized here.
What do you believe about vocabulary instruction?
Does it “WORK” for all students to “study” the same words on a list?
When it comes to Vocabulary, I have more questions than answers. If I am a “wide reader”, I have exposure to more words. I can still remember my first exposure to “supercalifragilisticexpealidocious”! Such a fun word that over shadowed the plot in “Mary Poppins” for days! And words like “loquacious”, “accolade”, “capricious”, and “ubiquitous” add fun and joy to my life! None of those words were ever on a vocabulary list for me to memorize or write in a sentence! (Just sayin’.)
What words do you like to USE?
How do you collect and use new words?
For those of you who coach others or provide PD, here’s an example of a Vocabulary Hyperdoc created by members of our literacy team for our local coaches designed to help teachers reflect on their vocabulary instruction and assessment practices. (Content + Technology)
Bookended by our Thursday and Friday evening dinners . . .
are over 16 pages of notes, hundreds of storified tweets, pictures galore and thousands of words. Words Matter. Words matter whether spoken or written. Words in the heart matter as well. As a #TCRWP aficionado stunned by the passing of Deputy Director Kathleen Tolan this weekend, I celebrate my learning about small group reading instruction last summer with Kathleen even though I still yearn for more. That gritty, passionate, talented, brilliant and sometimes “pushy” Deputy Director would want us to carry on . . . Make the students in front of you YOUR PRIORITY! FOCUS on students!
FRIDAY at #NCTE16
The Heinemann Breakfast on Friday honoring the Legacy of Don Graves was a star-studded celebration. I felt like the red carpet was rolled out to recognize the literacy superstars in the room who all had stories to tell that encouraged us to roll up our sleeves, pay attention to students and get to work. From Penny Kittle’s, “When Don asked me to do something, I did it!” to her credo “NCTE is a place to settle your soul” we were entranced! Katherine Bomer reminded us that “Writing to discover what we care about is brave and that writing is a way a student’s voice comes into power and reminds us that we are all human.” Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell shared that their “mentor text drop box – a way to organize and access mentor text – represents the generosity of Don Graves.” This breakfast was a family breakfast that reminded us of who we are and where we are going together. ( Heinemann Podcast Link)
Charts as Tools for Conversation, Advocacy and Action (Martinelli, Schwartz, & Luick)
The focus of this presentation was on the purpose of charts, ownership and environment, reflection and action. The two words that I heard over and over were “purposeful planning”! This is embodied in sketching out the steps to check clarity, the vocabulary used, and the ability of the chart to act as the teleprompter for the teacher. Of course, a crystal clear teaching point helps!
One caution was to make sure that students’ voices were included in discovering learning together . . .students could contribute definitions, examples, and even make their own tools to use. Tools that begin in the minds of teachers become ideas that can eventually be handed over to the students. (Isn’t that what transfer is REALLY all about?) I’ve heard many, many, many TCRWP staff members say that when we introduce a tool, coach and provide support for a tool, we MUST have a plan for the tool to go away. Graphics in a chart are really meant to be replaced by pictures or names of your own students. Or even better, by students who make their own charts because they know the purpose and that’s good for teachers, students, and LEARNING!
Vocabulary Matters! – Valerie Geschwind, Shana Frazin, Katy Wischow and Char Shylock
How do students ever learn enough words to improve their vocabulary? How do students become invested in their OWN learning? Who’s really doing the work in vocabulary learning?
Step 1. Listen carefully.
Step 2. Wait.
Too often when students say things that are untrue or unbiased, teachers jump in. Instead of the teacher teaching 24/7, maybe students should teach us so that they have the skills that they need for the rest of their lives!
Step 3. Think. What do we know ( or What do we think we know) about …”
Step 4. Audition what you know. Try it on. Is this idea never true? Sometimes true? Always true? (or True for me? True for us? True for you?) Set up a place or way for students to go do this!!!
Step 5. Revise and rename. What assumptions changed?
Step 6. Spread the word.
This presentation included opportunities for us to think about shifting our beliefs, taking note of vocabulary words, increasing our word curiosity and consciousness and “settling our souls in teacher church”. Shana Frazin told us that “English is her superpower and Hebrew is her kryptonite.” If we think of a word in another language, how does that add to our repertoire? How does working with “categories” help students access MORE words. And then Katy illuminated some FUN, JOYOUS ways to find a few minutes to incorporate vocabulary work. . . in a closure – share, in a mid-class tip, in spare 5 minutes before the bell rings or even a simple conversation like . . .
“Wow guys, you are doing such fascinating work with characters… let’s talk about…. which would you rather be, character A or character B and why?”
Some activities take time:
- Sentence game
- Grid game – person and question
- Play with words – Beck’s Bringing Words to Life (Would you rather? How much would you like to ? Which is more important to ? When/ how should you?)
- Word sorts – content words for open or closed sorts
- Other work – paintings or artwork.
Vocabulary work that has student learning and ownership as the goal WILL stick with students. Vocabulary work that has “correct answers on the quiz” as an end goal . . . NOT so much!
The Power of Low Stakes Writing with Ralph Fletcher
Advice from students
“Use top shelf adjectives and verbs”
Like a big balloon…
Audience (beyond the teacher)
A sense of fun and adventure
Teachers who value
Invention, originality and voice
So what happened to the big beautiful balloon?
Student Choice increases energy and excitement to make the balloon soar.
Test prep brings the balloon back to the ground.
There is a battle between freedom and discipline
But teachers do have choice and must be
BRAVE to bring choice back with any of these . . . (and also low-stakes)
- Free Choice Fridays
- The Writer’s Notebook
- Class Writer’s notebook- Students inspired by what others write
- Classroom blogs
- Slice of Life Challenge
- Open Cycles – where students chose the topic and genre
- Need writing green belts – tap into the writing Ss are doing
- FERAL writing
- Study Driven Writing (Source Katie Wood Ray)
Recklessly wonderful writing.
Students choose to work on writing because
The ideas of writing give them energy.
Multiple Layers of Literacy Learning –
(Amy Brennan, Dani Burtsfield, Jill DeRosa, Kim Gosselin, Jennifer Hayhurst, Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson, Marissa Moss, Stefani Nolde, Erica Picarole, David Schultz, and Kari Yates)
What do you think of when you hear professional development? Who is it for? This session included conversations about learning for teachers, parents, and students. Learning, fun, and choice are necessary ingredients for multi-dimensional opportunities for all to grow! Summer school included learning for teachers and the students!
Advocating for Revision in Reading: Meaning Making as a Journey, Not a Destination – Ellin Keene, Matt Glover, Dan Feigelson and Kathy Collins
Students who are reading and writing A LOT know a lot. Ellin had an example of a six year old who understood the use of metaphor. Students who read and write have the tools to share their thinking at deeper levels than we may have considered. How do we help them revise their thinking? Sometimes it means the adult must close his/her mouth in order for the student to take the lead! Students need to learn to be comprehension decision makers! Students have to be flexible thinkers and not seekers of “right” answers. Building a “Reader’s Identity” is a desired outcome, not a letter of a level! What are the characteristics of a reader that you admire? That’s a different question than those that are typically part of a story inquisition! Product and process do matter so
“Privilege all texts”
” Our attention shows what we value!”
“Show reading identities.”
“Elevate the book.”
“Elevate the readers of the book.”
Dear Reader, Are you still here with me?
At this point we were off to the #HeinemannPub reception for the #TCRWP Reading Units of Study Libraries, the #StenhousePub reception for authors, and then dinner with #G2Great Voxer cousins! Many miles of words and ideas heard, considered and studied!
So what caught your attention on this overview of Friday’s learning at #NCTE16?
When were you nodding your head and saying, “YES”!
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
And a “Paul Harvey – the Rest of the Story” video here . . . How Friday ended!
Session #4 – Quick, Practical and Fun Ways to Bring Vocabulary Learning into Your Classroom with Katie Wischow
Vocabulary is complicated.
Vocabulary cannot all be taught through context.
Source for much of the information: Bringing Words to Life – Robust Instruction
Ultimate goal: turning kids into thinking users of vocabulary
If you are familiar with Beck’s work, we were talking Tier 2 words.
Here’s a quick review of the tiers.
So what does this mean?
Oral use of words.
Playful use of words.
Multiple uses of words.
Meaningful use of words.
What does that look like?
How can you use a bunch of words quickly?
Set up a chart.
Check out when and how the word does work like “inquisitive” and “ban” below.
Thinking about the characteristics of the people and the characteristics of the vocabulary word – is there a match?
Quick, fast-paced, two minute FUN drills!
And then a Sentence Game.
A game that involved awarding points.
And throwing a beanbag type object.
- Create a complete sentence
- 1 pt. decent attempt
- 2 pt. fully correct
- 3 pt. fully correct and even clue to figure out from contextually.
- Teacher is the final word on points!
- Class goal for points – argue and you will lose points
Why a game?
- Shows the students your values
- Oral practice
- 20-30 sentences generated
- Most students stay engaged
- Teacher can catch misconceptions! Students may use the right definition but weirdly / awkwardly ….
- See the degree of strength/weakness in vocabulary use
What about Word Sorts?
We often see elementary word sorts.
How could word sorts be used in a content area?
The words in the following picture could be sorted into the categories of Patriots/Loyalists/Types of Governments.
They could also be sorted by words with prefixes, suffixes, or both (affixes) or even singular/plural.
In an open sort, the student can find many possibilities and also have rich discussion if sorting with another student.
If the words are cut apart, students could assemble their sorts in their space, label them with a post-it note turned over, and then engage in a gallery walk and “guess my category”? as they circulate around the room.
What might you consider for Word Sort Rules?
Must be at least two items for a category.
The category must be labeled positively.
- Dogs/Not Dogs (won’t work)
- Dogs/All other small pets (will work)
All words must be used.
Vocabulary Look Fors
What should an observer see?
What should the teacher be planning for?
Katie spent some time on activities that could be answered as WHY questions – like Elmo!
- Ranking words
- 3 things and then an example
- How much would you like to . . .?
- Would you rather . . .?
- Idea completions walk . . .run
- When/how would you
- Choose between descriptions or between words
- Show a painting/song/etc. – debate which word best fits
- Ranking words – shades of meaning
- Types of word walls, sorted different ways
Find poetry, music, and Read Alouds that celebrate words and word play!
And study kids’ vocabulary in talking/writing across the whole school and the whole day. . .