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by • April 27, 2013 • UncategorizedComments (0)470

Accountable Talk, EQAO and … Fun?

How many of us are guilty of teaching vocabulary using the strategy below? 

Write new vocabulary on the board.
Students look words up in the dictionary and copy definitions.
Students use new words in sentences. 

I know I have. Apologies to those I bored!

EQAO is coming soon for my grade 6 students and embedded in every test are key words that can make or break a student’s ability to answer questions. Often these are words that they “kinda” know.

ex: What are the characteristics of the water pump that made it an important invention?

There are always students who stop at this point because they don’t understand the meaning of key words. The trick for teachers is to teach vocabulary in a way that causes students to remember meanings.

Today we took an entire period to explore the word characteristics using Accountable Talk as our strategy.  Accountable Talk is part of the reason why classrooms in Ontario are no longer places of silence.

Students worked in groups to discuss the meaning of the word.

1. Discuss with your group what you think the words means. (2-3 min)
2. Now that you’ve had a chance to listen to others, write a defintion in your own words.
3. Check the dictionary. Does the definition confirm or disconfirm your understanding of the word?

4. With your group come up with examples that show the word’s meaning.

All groups are talking throughout this process and I stop the class at various points to check understanding and for students to share good examples. After a few minutes we share – and have some good laughs about various examples.

5.  Next we played a listing game.
     a) With your group list the characteristics of a fish.
     b)  … of a friend.
     c) …. of a villain
     d) of your favourite game

I wandered the class and pointed out the difference between an opinion and a characteristic.
fish – yucky  vs. fish – gills

6. Finally we came up with synonyms: qualities, features, traits

The whole process was relaxed and lively and by the end of class, all students understood the meaning of the word. When they came back to me later in the day for reading a reading comprehension activity, no student had to ask, “What does the word characteristics mean.

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