Sunday, November 22, 2015
I got to teach one of my favorite lessons last week under the watchful eye of a hopeful student teacher. I did not know she was going to be here but I was glad that she was able to watch this lesson unfold.
Part of our sixth grade curriculum is teaching students how to use context clues to differentiate among multiple meanings of words. This allows students to read more complex text and increase vocabulary, right? :) I always find that context clues is not something you can just stand and deliver-- It is something the students have to be taught in exploration. I always tell students that this is something I cannot teach them, but I can give them the tools to learn and teach themselves.
A few years ago, a colleague gave me a copy of Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky".
Confession: The first year I didn't want to use it- simply because the words terrified me. I love reading aloud to my students and I certainly did NOT want to read these words aloud!
So this year I tweaked what I attempted to do with it two years ago and MAGIC!
I start by displaying this picture on the SMARTboard for their journal entries. I really enjoy the mystical tales they create. Students are often really inspired by picture prompts.
After, students are allowed to share out. This often sparks even more interest into the unknown beast. I still do not lead on to the lesson ahead.
Afterwards, I give students a quick mini-quiz asking them to define and describe words from the Jabberwocky without telling them where the words are from or what they mean (their answers are quite creative). On the backside of the mini-quiz is an identical copy of the quiz. After they read the poem, I prompt them to take the other mini-quiz (but later on).
I pass out Lewis Carroll's poem. I prompt students to read it all the way through, without stopping on words they don't understand, without re-reading stanza's, without making notes-- just read to enjoy reading. Before they begin, I ask them to turn over their poem when they are finished (a quick visual indicator for me to move on). Once all students have read over it once, I ask for feedback. Almost always students will say they didn't understand a single thing! Most students seem relieved to see that others feel the same way about the words they just read that seem to be haphazardly thrown on a page. Great conversation usually follows.
Next, I'll display a quick annotation guide on the board. This guide suggests students to circle words they don't understand (( I usually make a joke that they can't just circle the entire poem and be done with it. Cirlcing words you don't understand is typically for words that you think impact your understanding of the poem)), underline key information or powerful passages, ask questions in the margins, and draw arrows for connected ideas.I ask students to read again and practice using those annotation skills.
Next, I play aloud a reading of "Jabberwocky", by John Green. I love his inflection, his animations, and his voice!
I prompt students to listen for the second read aloud by John Green but ask them to then annotate when his reading helps them understand the poem more completely.
Lastly, as mentioned before, students take the identical mini-quiz again. This time they can use their poem and their annotations to answer. I ask students to clue me into how they figured out those words, now, when they were never given a dictionary. And Voilá--CONTEXT CLUES!
I usually take a bow and tell them I just taught them context clues without teaching them context clues because they teach themselves context clues and so on and so forth!
It is really excited to see them make connections, discoveries, and conclusions on their own-- acknowledging their own strengths and understanding.