Hi friends! It's time to talk about chapter 2 of Word Nerds. If you missed my thoughts on the intro and chapter 1, you can read them here. Be sure and check out Heather's blog to see her thoughts and ideas! :)
Chapter 2 is titled "Classrooms That Foster Word Confidence and to be honest y'all, I don't have a whole lot to share...yet! I would love to fill this post with pictures of how I'm implementing this into my own classroom, but my classroom currently looks like this:
I know, I know. My classroom totally makes you excited about increasing your vocabulary, right? ;) ;)
I have ideas on what I want to do, but have I tackled them yet? That would be no. :( So instead of sharing pictures, I'm going to share my thoughts and I *promise* my next post will be picture heavy! :)
Here's 3 things I took away from Chapter 2:
In order to create a fun environment where students feel safe to learn, you must establish rules and a process for having fun.
I know my class can get loud sometimes, and that's okay! My kids and I have discussed ways to act appropriately in class and what NOT to do! So if we are presenting vocabulary skits where students get in groups and act out a word, it might seem like they are just goofing off, but they are actually learning! I'll never forget when a group of students demonstrated a word by acting like they were riding down the road in a car, singing a popular song. I remember thinking, I hope no one comes in right now because it looks like we are just playing! Later that week after the test, a student raised their hand and told the class that he knew he got that word right on the test because he remembered how that group acted it out in their skit. Would he have connected that word on the test to a definition he had simply copied from a book? Probably not!
My point is this. It is crucial for students to interact with words in a fun, creative way, but there has to be a process set in place. We are able to do skits and other interactive activities with vocabulary because we have discussed what to do and what not to do. I set a timer and constantly remind the kids how much time they have. If they are working hard and need more time, I give them more time. But if they are goofing off, they are sent back to their desk. They know this and you'd be surprised how many groups keep that in mind. If at any point in the activity the entire class get too loud, we stop the activity and move onto a different activity that isn't as "fun". They quickly learn how to behave. :)
Classroom should be student convenient, not teacher convenient.
I'm an only child, so I blame this on my need for control. That makes sense, right? ;) I have to work really hard on letting my classroom be more for the students than for me. For example, I always cringe when the students say, your first class really left your bookshelf in a mess. I don't want them to think of it as my bookshelf or my reading area. I want them to think of it as our classroom, not mine.
In order for this to happen, classrooms need to be designed with the students in mind, not the teacher. I realized that I mostly sit at my small group table and my teacher desk was taking up a large corner of the room that could be used by the students! I sometimes let my students work around the room with a clipboard and by removing my teacher desk, it will allow more space for the kids. Isn't that the whole point of a classroom anyways? Now, I'm not saying everyone of you should remove your desk, but think of ways you can make your classroom more student centered than teacher centered! It will create a sense of family and make students feel more comfortable to learn. One of my students even brought this up on their end of the year reading reflection. Reading this made my heart happy :)
Is that not precious?!
Model, Model, Model
I sometimes reflect on how I taught a certain lesson and think, okay, you didn't show them enough examples of how to do it! You just told them how to do it, showed one example, and gave them the assignment. Please tell me that I'm not the only one that sometimes thinks this? I forget how important modeling is because of time! There's so much to get in and I sometimes disregard that crucial step. I think this is especially important in teaching vocabulary. You can show students a sentence with the vocabulary word in it, but that doesn't mean they are going to automatically understand how to use that word correctly. It's so important to create examples in front of the students and WITH the students in order for them to comprehend the meaning of the word.