Tag Archives: instructional strategy

Comprehension Strategy: Say Something

When I was working on my master’s degree online I remember reading an entire article and thinking “What did I just read?”

I also do that when I’m reading my 7th graders’ Social Studies book!

I know my students zone out,  exhaust themselves with decoding, or simply struggle with comprehension itself.

Not a new strategy, but new-to-me, I introduced a modified version of Say Something for my Resource Room.

One description of this strategy can be found here. Free downloadable bookmarks can be found here.

Here is how my version goes:

Phase 1:To introduce this strategy, I chose an article in a Scholastic magazine.

“Use your right hand and cover the first part of the text. That is approximately how much I am going to read to you before I stop. This is a reasonable chunk of text.  When I am done reading you will have to Say Something. 

You can:

1) Ask a question.

2) State a fact.

3) Make a prediction.

If you cannot do any of those three things, I will have to read it again, until you can.”

With only ten students, this is doable and everyone gets to Say Something.  I modeled this with several chunks of text. It only took one time of me rereading for all the students to be able to comment.

Phase 2: Have students read a small chunk with a partner and respond. Again, modeling may be necessary.

Phase 3: Have students read a small chunk silently and then, as a class, ask them to respond.

This strategy really forces the reader/listener to be engaged and think about what is being read. Knowing that they will have the opportunity to discuss and share after reading just a short selection keeps them interested as well.

I don’t use all the suggested prompts for my Resource Room, but I think I could introduce more response options over time. I just wanted to keep it simple as we started.

Did I explain this well enough?

Let’s try it!

Say Something in the comments!

Instructional Strategy: Affinity Diagram

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.

The first attempt: (Sorry this one is not as legible)affinity4.jpg

  • 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.

Second attempt:affinity1.jpg

  • 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.

Third attempt:affinity2.jpg

  • 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.

Fourth attempt:affinity3.jpg

  • 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.

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