Sunday, April 12, 2009

Vocabulary BINGO

This was another fabulous idea I got from another teacher (thank you Ms. Larson!) and tweaked. In the middle school last year I was SHOCKED at the amount of new vocabulary students had to learn in the sixth grade (I am equally shocked at the limited amount of new vocabulary fourth graders have to learn in comparison...oh well). To help students remember the vocabulary word and its definition we played BINGO, usually within the last 10 minutes of class if we had extra time or more often the closer we were to a big test or state exam.
Here is how it works. Put together a list of 24 vocabulary words for a unit. I was struggling to find 24 words in one unit and pulled words from another unit we had done to round it out. For the notebook, I put the words in Microsoft Publisher "catalog format" and gave it a cover so I could fold and glue into the book (see next to last and last picture). I then made a BINGO board in word (using their "table" format) making sure to have a free space in the middle. I had my homeroom students fold and glue the vocabulary list in the notebooks and had other homeroom students cut out and glue the bingo boards into the book.
In the second picture you will see that I did not have the vocabulary list next to the BINGO boards. Those were my middle school books and the point was to get them to not depend on the vocabulary list and to be able to recognize the word based on the definition. That is still the point in the elementary school but I am introducing them so late that I decided to glue the word list in (I really should have introduced vocabulary BINGO sooner...sigh!).
You will need to model the next step, which is to put the words in random order in different blocks on their BINGO board. They should not copy their friends layout. Each layout of words should be different. I usually do the first five with them and then leave them to do the rest (tell them to put a check mark by the words they have already put down or they tend to forget and you waste valuable time trying to find their error). I liked that one of my students put a picture by the word (see next to last picture). I don't require it but I think next year I might. It would certainly help my visual learners.
To play you pick a BINGO layout that the students have to get in order to win (any five across or down, four corners, capital L, capital T, etc.). You read the definition twice - slowly - and they have to find the word match. This is slow going at first so please don't get discouraged because they do pick up speed. Eventually they will know the word without having to refer to the provided vocabulary list. In the beginning I let them help each other out but the expectation is that once they catch on they are to try and find the word on their own.
I use cut up squares of color paper in baggies as the BINGO markers (again nothing fancy). I used to have a lot of trouble in the middle school with students blowing the bag up and popping them until I gave out starbursts to any student who returned my supplies intact when I went around the room and collected them. This isn't so much a problem in elementary school but I thought I would mention how I handled that problem last year. I keep all my supplies, including my master list, in a printer box top (see top picture).
As I read off the definition I check off which ones I have read so that once someone yells BINGO I can verify their win. ALWAYS tell studnets NOT to clear off their board if someone yells BINGO - they may have made a mistake or I might continue play on the same game if time is running out.
STRATEGIES - Sometimes I have to speed up the game and I will walk around and see who is close and purposely call a word I know will end the game quickly. I differentiate units with different color boards - see second picture. This helps particularily during end of year testing review when you might be playing different games each day - you can tell students to go to their orange BINGO card or blue BINGO card.

Damaged Notebooks

Since I decided to use only one notebook this year, instead of starting new ones in January, student books are showing wear and tear - primarily with the binding. To counteract that I have reinforced the binding using clear packing tape, which seems to work. Next year I think I might have a classroom volunteer start out at the beginning of the year reinforcing the binding with clear tape so it doesn't become a problem.
Student do tend to pick at the tape so I told students that any book without any picked tape at the end of the year will get a treat. This has worked well with their desk name tags. I got tired of replacing their names on the desk (which I just use blue thick painters tape - the good kind 3M - and write their name on it - nothing fancy here!). Anyone who has their name still on their desk, and I can read it, on the last day of school will get a treat. My kids switch classes so their table partner (the person who sits at their table in the morning or afternoon) will also get the same treat. Since I have made that announcement I have not had any problems.

Menus - Trying it End of Year

I really really really like this idea and think it will work well with the notebooks. This book was recommended by a friend of mine (she has the social studies menu book) and I promptly bought the science book. The premise is that students are given a menu option of things to do to demonstrate (at different levels) their understanding of what they learned in a unit. Each activity is given a different point value and students have to accrue a certain amount of points by picking and choosing off a menu, bingo board (pictured above), etc.
The book is fairly new to me so I am looking through it and plan to try one of the "menus" (modified to fit our standards) at the end of the year (we have state testing coming up three weeks after we return from spring break so it will be after that). This way I can iron out the kinks and see how it would work within a unit.
I thought some other teachers might want to investigate the book before my "experiment", which I will definitely post the results of here on this blog. I would love to hear from teachers who have already incorporated menus in their classroom.

Recommended Books

I know I have mentioned the author Dinah Zike before but here are three of my favorite books by her. I use ideas from these books constantly in the classroom. They are well worth the money I spent on them. I currently have my fingers crossed that I get a NEA grant I applied for to attend her "foldables" workshop in Texas this summer (too expensive on my own and remains listed under my dream professional development list).

Currently I am on spring break and I grabbed these three off my school bookshelf to take home and see what will jump out at me as I plan for the end of the year. I have spoken to pre-service teachers at our local university and I always bring them with me and recommend them as "must haves" on any teachers bookshelf (she also has other books but obviously I am focused on science...I know after bringing them to school the fourth grade social studies teachers purchased her social studies book).