We are finally wrapping up When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by the end of the day Tuesday.
Oh my goodness, does anyone else feel like novels can drag on forever?
This was actually the fastest I’ve gotten through a novel (5 weeks), but I am glad to be done and moving on.
I am also really excited for the activities I have planned for the next two weeks. Yesterday things just sort of fell in place as I was planning and I came up with not one, but TWO, weeks’ worth of plans with a variety of new activities. I love the idea of NEW ideas.
Things I have on tap that I am really anticipating:
In an effort to be current and real, we will be brainstorming, Instagram-style, on Schoology in an activity I am simply calling #zacharybeaver. Ian and Dee loved practicing this activity the other day. (#guineapigs)
To differentiate and get kids engaged with the informational text unit, we will be trying out the .99¢ app called ReadNRespond.
To get everyone involved in discussion and control the conversation dominators, I am going to try a strategy called “Two Chips”. (I think it was originally called “Three Chips,” but I only have 8 students in my class so I needed to adjust.)
To get a feel for my students’ use of Quizlet for studying, we will be using the quiz feature to assess vocabulary.
To push the writing (because, honestly, we don’t do enough) , I am going to try a book that I bought two weekends ago called “Writing Frames for the Interactive Whiteboard” by Scholastic. Based on the concept of modeling, I think this will help my students organize their thoughts and write structured, organized paragraphs for a variety of purposes.
To move away from Language worksheets (blech!), students will be using the Explain Everything app in groups to work on combining simple sentences.
To teach Theme and Author’s Purpose, I am going to use the lessons from my favorite Interactive Notebook collection.
To fulfill my SLO duties, we will also be completing our pre-assessment for writing/language this week…not looking forward to that quite as much!
I know this is just a teaser post, so stop back soon to hear more about the things that interest you!
Awhile back I posted a list of instructional strategies I found online. This lesson-planning menu covers many different types of activities, assessments, and projects.
I decided I was going to keep this list in my lesson planning binder and research one every week and try to incorporate it in my class.
The first one on the list is the Affinity Diagram.
A quick search for a definition gives me this: “…a business tool used to organize ideas and data. It is one of the Seven Management and Planning Tools…” (wikipedia.org)
I looked at a few websites and quickly decided how to incorporate this into my lessons. I have posted pictures below with an explanation of how each affinity diagram came to be. I tweaked the process each time and each time, the students surprised me (and themselves) with their understanding.
Preparation is simple. You need post-it notes, butcher paper, and a Sharpie.
- Students were rotating through stations one day. One of these stations required students to look at a pile of nonfiction books on the topic of pirates (which we had been reading about).
- They were asked to write two new facts down – one per post-it note. They put these post-its on the butcher paper.
- The next day, as we visited the library, students were invited to go to the paper and move the post-its around on the paper into some sort of grouping. Those were the only directions I gave them.
- Day 3 – We gathered around our large round table and discussed the groupings and students decided on keywords for the headings.
- Students received three post-it notes and were asked to write down three things they wanted for Christmas.
- We gathered around the large round table and shared our wish lists, placing each item on the green butcher paper.
- We then categorized the items into groups which they chose: Electronics, Clothing, Video Games, Shoes, Sporting Goods, Music, and “Girl Stuff.”
- They were able to take it a step further and divided those categories into smaller groups yet, as you can see in the photograph.
- Students received 2-3 post-it notes at random. I had already written the words – which included a variety of holiday/winter related words.
- They shared their post-its and categorized them as a class. (Lots of shouting out and over-riding ideas….I had to put a stop to that.)
- I chose the words myself for a few reasons: variety, spelling, and time.
- After we completed the diagram, students made suggestions for additional words to add to each category.
- Again, I passed out post-it notes with what they determined to be “Snacks (Junk Food)”.
- As you can see our discussion and our categorizing went much further this time. They wanted to get very technical, breaking down the items as far as they could. I didn’t shoot down any suggestions unless they were blatantly wrong (ex. Milk Duds are not fruit-flavored.)
- Students supplied some additional ideas for each category as well.
The students were really into this activity and it was often hard to contain an excited student with a great idea, as I mentioned above. As I hung the 4th chart on the bulletin board, one student noted how detailed they were this time. “Wow! We keep getting better and better!”
I can see this activity being used in many ways with an endless list of topics. I think it demonstrates a student’s ability to understand a topic and make connections.
Other ways I may try to use affinity diagrams:
- Exit tickets – “What did you learn?”
- Pre-reading – “What do you know about…..?”
- Group discussion and Debate – Groups of students would have the same lists and would have to categorize and then defend their reasons.
How would you use an affinity diagram in your classroom?
Share your ideas with the comment link at the top of this post.