Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wordchamp Wednesday #2-Hunting and Gathering

I mentioned "hunting and gathering" in a previous post, and referred to the way that I supply pictures and cues to students early on, make them rely on it and then wean them off the teacher supplying it and help them learn the value of providing their own support information. This is an important part of middle school learning-learning to learn.

Some go hungry for a few weeks, and then in their lean and hungry moments lash out a bit and can be dangerous. I scaffold for them. Makes me think of Caesar before the ides:

(Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look,
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.)
Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 190–195

Okay, so I want them fat with knowledge. Completely sated so that they don't come after me. Ergo, I teach them to fish. Id est, I lead them through the processes that help them provide for themselves. ENTER: Wordchamp.com

I'll condense a 4 month process:
1. Give them wordchamp activities with pictures and sounds and lots of interesting nuances.
2. Play games in class with them that make them laugh and enjoy the vocabulary and learning.
3. Set up lessons in which the students provide the audio for the vocabulary.
4. Show them correlation between practice and success. Graphs good.
5. Give BLANK (only word) cards, and invite a few students to create their own PICTURES and AUDIO. (Give awards for the most creative, best recycle, best use of siblings, most http://icanhascheezburger.com/ cat picture-celebrate them all)
6. Assign blank cards to groups of students.
7. Remediate and coach students who do not use the system and do not succeed. Find out why and do your best to fix it! Do they need fewer words? Do they need computer time? Do they need a buddy? (Alas, some things we can't fix)
8. Allow students to create individualized word lists and set their own goals.
Repeat. (start with new activities and watch them take off faster each time)

There will be stragglers who will need a teacher-made list longer into the term, but the ones who start producing their own drag the others over to the achievement side pretty quickly! It's a student-led culture of learning that everyone can enjoy. Students e-mail me great wordchamp pics and sentences in the evening, just for the fun of it. Really.

Here's a picture that a student used to learn the phrase "turpis bubo". Well done, M.M.!

No comments: