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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Analyze Text using Keep it Or Junk it

Adding words to Keep it or Junk it List
While writing my post about the Scoot game last week, I stumbled upon a new activity shared by Mrs. White, a fifth grade teacher.  She learned and wrote about a strategy to help students answer focus questions and analyze text using words from the reading selection.  This inspired me to try this with my students.

The activity is called "Keep it or Junk it!"  Here is a great video of another fifth grade teacher showing how she uses it in the classroom.

A small reading group provided me with the perfect opportunity to try it out before forging ahead with the whole class.   Students finished reading and discussing a story called, "Ranches in the Southwest." After re-reading a certain section I gave them the focus question: "How do cattle ranches affect the environment?"

To start Keep it or Junk it, the students should be familiar with the text (having read the selection more than once.)  Using the focus as a guide, students were instructed to select words from the
Final Product
reading that will 'help' them answer THAT question.  Once students created their lists they worked with a partner to make one list of words using their own lists.  Then as a group, they shared their words and we started the "Keep it or Junk it" list.  Each word was shared and students had an opportunity to decided should we Keep the word, Junk it or put it in the "Cloud" to be discussed.  Making an argument why a word should be kept or junked further helps students think about the focus question.

When the list was finalized students got down to actually answering the question.  The great thing was that by the end of this activity (which spanned 2 small group times) they students had seen the focus question many times and discussed the words in relation to the question.  So in essence, they had been answering the question all along!

Listen in as our group works through this activity: (apologize in advance for the noise in background - still worth a listen).

This activity is something I plan to incorporate with the whole class as I really saw the benefits.  Each student was able to correctly articulate the effects of cattle ranches on the environment.  It is my hope that after modeling this enough times that students will transfer that and complete the activity without prompting.

Have you tried this type of activity?   What are some of your strategies for guiding students to analyze text? Please share in the comment section below!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Scoot Games in the Classroom

Scoot in the Classroom - A Favorite
SCOOT! The students in my class LOVE hearing that word (or variations like Scooch, Scurry, Skedaddle during the game.) They know "Scoot" means they will be doing an activity that involves moving around the classroom.

Here's how it works:  1. Place a task card at each student desk.  2. Students create a recording sheet or use a handout.  3. Students begin by answering the questions at their own desk.  4. When prompted by the word Scoot (or whatever you decide) students move to the desk that would be next in numerical order.  5. When you see that the task is completed - prompt the movement again and repeat until all cards are complete.

Over the last few years I used Scoot games sporadically.  However, this year I find myself incorporating it on a more regular basis. These activities, which are usually a quick 5 minutes, can be a lesson activator, review of a concept or used as formative assessment.

While first I started purchasing games like Rounding Scoot through TeachersPayTeachers, lately I have created my own 'simple' versions.  For instance - I take 20 math flashcards (addition/subtraction/multiplication/division or a mix of all) and place one on each student desk.  I will instruct students to write a number on the card or on their whiteboard and place the card next to the number. Then students quickly number their papers 1-20 and we're ready to "move on!"

I've also used it for Vocabulary.  I will place the vocabulary words we are learning in ELA (or other content areas) and place them on student desks.  Again - we number the cards and paper - then SCOOT!  I've used it for spelling (I leave out the vowels and students write the whole words including the vowels.  Fact and Opinion can easily be reviewed with a quick Scoot activity. Students can identify states by their shape - cut up a worksheet that you want students to complete - put a piece at each desk - the possibilities are endless.

Some Scoot games can be more challenging like this Inference Game.  Naturally, the more difficult the skill the longer the activity.  So you need to decide the purpose of your scoot game. Whatever the purpose, Scoot is a learning activity that appeals to many!

Have a favorite SCOOT activity - please share it here!


Mrs. White's 5th grade Class: Using Scoot Game & QR Codes Lesson Plans:  Scoot for Money

Think Share Teach: Renaming Numbers (Free)

TeachersPayTeachers: Scoot Games  (Pay)

ProTeacher Community: Task Cards by Unseen (Membership is Free) This is a resource of over 100 Task Cards!