Light Bulb Moments

In case you haven’t noticed, read-aloud (chapter book) time in our room is a big deal.  This ain’t no lay-on-the-floor-and-rest-after-recess-time.  My kids will tell you that read-aloud is one of the most important times of the day–we use the chapter book to connect to reading, writing, vocabulary and many other things.

Right now we are deep in the middle of The Secret of Zoom by Lynne Jonell.  In Reader’s Workshop, we’re working on inferring in fiction text.  So today as we read our chapter book, we focused on noticing and recording inferences we were making about the story.  We reviewed the meaning of inferring (which we defined as background knowledge + text=inference), and then got started.  There were a couple of parts when I paused in my reading to say “You might be able to infer something here,” but for the most part I just left them to their listening and thinking.  Then I read a sentence and K, who was sitting right in front of me made a rather loud noise, somewhere in between a gasp and a screech.   She covered her mouth, grinned, and then scribbled something in her notebook.  And I knew exactly what she was thinking.  She had figured out something in the story–she had made an inference.

Now, every time you infer something in a story, you don’t make a big deal like that; it’s not always so obvious.  But this was a really great illustration for us.  Some kids in my class have a hard time knowing when they are inferring; they know what to do, but they don’t always attend to when they’re doing it.  But I’ll but from today on, they will know that when you have a “light bulb moment”, when you say “Ahh! Now I get it!” or when you think “aha!”, you’re probably inferring.  It was cool to watch several others do the very same thing–most without the screech–as we continued to read.  And I’ll bet we’ll notice more of it tomorrow.  I love how the thing that really made it visible, too, is something I couldn’t have planned for (the best learning moments happen like that!).  It came very naturally, and was really powerful for them.  Next time you think “aha!” or have a “light bulb moment”, pay attention –you might be inferring something, too. 🙂

“Blog Worthy” Part 3: Talk-a-Mile-a-Minute

My students love to talk.  I do, too, so I can’t blame them.  I remember myself as a 5th grader, even, and remember that the thing I got in trouble for most often was talking when it was somebody else’s turn.  So whenever I can, I try to give them opportunities to talk while we’re learning.  Partly so that they won’t fill in the space with talk about non-learning things, but also because learning is a social thing; talking is part of how you make meaning.

So frequently we play a game called Talk-a-Mile-a-Minute.  It’s a vocabulary game, and can be used in any subject, with any set of words.  I think I introduced it in math (because there is a TON of vocabulary there!), but we have also played it with science and social studies terms.  Today we played it with new terms from our Ancient West Africa unit in social studies.  It’s fun, they can talk and be active, and they learn something.

Here’s how it works:

Kids choose a partner to work with.  Partners sit “eye-to-eye, knee-to-knee” in front of the ActivBoard.  The person with their back to the board is the guesser, and the person who can see the board is the describer.  I put up a screen with words they should know (or that they are working on), and the describer has one minute to get the guesser to say all of them.  The first time we played it, we did several practice rounds, and instead of words there were pictures, like this:

The goal is to be as descriptive as you can, without saying what the word starts with or rhymes with.

The first round was pretty easy, so then we tried it with words:

Here are some terms we used yesterday in math:

And here’s today’s version for Social Studies:

How well do you know these words?  Play with your child and see how it goes!