If you have been paying attention to the transition to common core, you know that collaborative conversations between students are ESSENTIAL to student learning. Learning is social; always has been, always will be. And quality teachers know that quality lessons should include all 4 components of literacy: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. (Some might argue viewing, as well. Meaning incorporating other forms of media such as video, photographs, etc.) Many teachers, pre-common core, were incorporating and fostering these types of meaningful conversations. The common core expectations have simply validated that practice. It is not new.
In an effort to assist students in participating in and initiating quality dialogue, I decided to create these table toppers for each of my groups. (My classroom desks are set up in groups as promoted by Kagan.) One side of the display is taken from the genius guru of vocabulary, Ms. Kate Kinsella. If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend one of her professional learning sessions, do look her up. Her work on vocabulary, and her own vocabulary might I add, will have you scrambling for a thesaurus. It’s remarkable. Anyway, using her sentence frames , I simply formatted them to fit in an 8 X 11 table topper, purchased at Staples for around $8.
The reverse side of this document is “Kiss These Words Goodbye“. It’s much like a ‘Dead Words’ or an ‘Instead of _____, Say ______’ poster. The problem with these posters, I found, was that-when posted on the wall- they were too far away from students, inaccessible, really. I selected some commonly used Tier 1 words that students cling to..you know the ones, sad-mad-bad-nice, etc.—-then, wrote some synonyms for each. In my opinion, this table topper worked WAY better than any poster I ever hung on my wall. The students would CONSTANTLY refer to it, I mean physically pick it up, and read from it. Amazing!
What do you use to expand your students’ everyday vocabulary? How do you foster collaborative conversations?