Friday, September 12, 2014

A-B-C. Easy as 1-2-3.

Sometimes you just need something easy to engage your learners in conversation and get them thinking right away.  The A-B-C brainstorm is such an easy and versatile strategy, and yet it gets little credit for being amazing.  Not only does this strategy engage your aural and social learners in conversation, but it also engages those who are linguistic and read/write learners due to the alphabetizing and writing.  It can be used as a background knowledge retrieving activity , an informal formative assessment, or a note taking strategy.  Here's how simple it is:

  • Give students a copy of the organizer
    click the link for the source
    at the beginning of class or as they walk in (good for visual learners, as there are boxes for drawing pictures and  organized visually). 
  • Direct them to work with a partner or group of three on filling in the organizer with words and/or pictures that directly relate to the topic and begin with the letter in the box (or have that letter in the word - your choice).
  • Students can use their resources or not - it's completely up to you.  
  • Walk around, monitor, and ask questions to engage students in deeper conversations, pointing out other words that can be written in the boxes.  
You can time the activity or not.  I could even see it used as a homework assignment so that your students review learned material from that day.  Making students go into a text book to skim and look for relevant words that are directly related to the topic might make a good preview activity for a selection of text.  For our kinesthetics, make them do it on big paper.  Tape it to a wall if you want to get crazy!  

Keep in mind that a quick reflection should always be used after any strategy.  Start out by saying something like this, "Okay, so what did we do to start out learning today?"  [Students answer with A-B-C Brainstorm]  "How did using this help you to review/learn/dig out background knowledge?" At this, your students should be able to tell you that they talked about it, reviewed the text, wrote about it, etc.  Finally, ask them what part worked best for them and how it relates to them as learners.  Making your kiddos talk about their specific learning preferences is beneficial here because they will begin to relate these preferences with their individual learning, ultimately creating more metacognitive and independent learners.

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