The Story of How Alphabox Changed My Life

I love learning.  It’s part of the reason I became a teacher in the first place.  And as my kids will tell you, we’re all teachers in our room, so I’m learning every day!

Aside from learning my students, however, I learn many things from my colleagues, as well!  That’s part of what makes me a better teacher–finding out about new strategies and techniques that are working for others and trying them with my students.  And this is how I found out about the Alphabox.  Credit here needs to go to my friend and 5th grade teammate, Genie Hong.  She introduced me to this strategy the other day and it quickly changed my life forever.  Really it did.  Keep reading. 🙂

Really it’s pretty simple: and Alphabox is a sheet of paper with boxes that each have a different letter of the alphabet in them:

But then the  magic happens.

The Alphabox is an organizer that is aimed at helping students summarize information, by choosing the most important word from a text that they’ve read that starts with each letter of the alphabet.  It can be used with anything, really, but we started with some information we needed to read and digest in our Ancient West Africa unit.

A filled-out Alphabox looks like this:


The next step is to put down the book, pick up your paper and try to summarize the part you just read using only the words on your Alphabox!  The first time around this was a bit tricky (some would even say hard!), but once we got into it, we go the hang of it, and really started to enjoy it, actually.  I’ve had several kids mention that they like how this organizer helps them really focus on the important ideas and it sticks in their brains better than things we’ve done before.  I would agree.

Here are some paragraphs we wrote together with our alphaboxes (and sorry for the fact that they have mistakes–I only got pictures of the rough drafts.  I recopied them before I hung them up, I promise!):

I love it when you learn something new and it totally rocks your world! I wonder what I did all those years before I knew about the Alphabox.  It’s so simple, but so powerful.  You should totally try it.  We’re using it all the time now. 🙂

Have you ever used an Alphabox to organize your important ideas?  Tell us what you think. 🙂

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