Thursday, October 24, 2013
tried, tested, and loved by Lori

The other day, I was kicking myself a little bit. You know we're all about our visual dictionaries. But the other day, I had my kids add 4 new terms to their visual dictionary in one day. Yikes! That's a lot. It was planned, intentional, and mostly necessary, but it was still a lot and technically too many to be effective. However, we were reading a persuasive piece and I needed them to know all 4 terms to really get the piece [all of these words are straight from state standards, by the way]:

  • anecdote
  • empirical evidence
  • deductive reasoning
  • pun
We added the terms and worked toward application of each throughout the lesson, but I was afraid that it would be in one ear and out the other. I knew we had to use those words several times in meaningful ways for at least one or two to stick. Our campus instructional specialist is pretty awesome and she recently ordered several class sets of these nifty hand-held white boards, lovingly referred to as bam boards. I knew they were coming, so I got my little hands on them the second they were delivered. I'm sneaky like that.

These little jewels have been hot in education for a few years, but I've seen them more easily and readily incorporated into concrete areas like math and science. But here's how I used them to make amends for bombarding the kids with so many new words. While I passed out the boards, I let the kids study their dictionaries for 2 minutes. I didn't tell them specifically which words to study. Instead I just told them to find their 4 newest words. I was so surprised that they all remembered! 

Then, using the boards, I went through the following prompts:

  • Using any example from last class period (or a nifty creation of your own), show me a pun.
  • Tell me the big, fancy word for a small story used as an example.
  • Draw an example of empirical evidence. 
  • Deductive reasoning is logical? Or emotional?
Since the kids all have their own boards, the responses should be rapid with immediate feedback. After the first round, even the most reluctant kids are eager to get their board in the air and gain some recognition.'ll notice that I didn't continually ask for a straight definition. Instead, I asked them to think about an example or draw a picture.

It took a grand total of maybe 7 minutes, and it was complete engagement and so much fun. I'll definitely look for new ways to use the boards again. They're too fun not to!

So there it is. Bam! Give it a shot.

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