Thursday, March 31, 2011

Daily Assignment #51: Charting

Oops, I thought I had posted this last night.  Sorry.

While everyone seems to be using high tech in teaching, I think flip charts are still a very effective tool.

Here are some tips for preparing charts:

  • COLORS:  For colors use the most comfortable for people to focus on.  Use earth colors, instead of black, for text, eg. blue- for the sky, green-for the ground and brown-for the earth, yellow for highlighting and red ONLY for critical emphasis. Avoid using the colors purple, pink, or orange. These are extremely difficult to see.  An avoid using too many colors. Using one dark color and one accent color works best. Use color for impact not to be artsy. 
  • LETTERING:  Lettering should be at least 2" high.  Titles should be in CAPS.  Use upper and lower case letters in text.  Write clearly. Print, cursive is difficult to read at a distance.
  • VISUAL GRAPHICS:  Use bullets in front of phrases.  Box in parts of text. Draw lines between key lines.
  • BANNERS:  Put the topic in a banner at the top of the chart. Outline it in black and read and fill in background with yellow.
  • You can write "lightly in pencil" any notes next to key points you need. The students won't be able to see them. 
  • If you make any mistakes you can use "white out" or a slip of paper, to correct any small errors. For larger areas, cover the mistake with a double layer of flip chart paper and correct the error.
  • Making "prepared" flip charts can take a considerable amount of time. Make sure you start preparing your charts early enough so you can review them and make any changes or corrections before hand. It takes practice to learn how to print neatly. If you do not have neat printing, ask someone who does prepare them for you. A poorly prepared flip chart can be very distracting.

I hope these suggestions help you in preparing for your next lesson. 

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Best Effort,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Daily Assignment #50: Summarizer--The Last Word

The Last Word summarizer is actually an acronym.  Students begin by brainstorming all the main ideas of a topic.  Then they put them into phrases for each letter of the topic.


M   Most frequently occurring number in a set of data
O   Often there is more than one in large sets of numbers
D   Data doesn't always have a mode
E   Easy to determine; simply count how often the numbers occur

P    Protagonist is the lead character.
L    Lesser important adversaries may create secondary conflicts.
A    Antagonist actively opposes the protagonist.
Y    Yearn to express emotions and ideas appropriate to particular characters

S    Structure of a play is broken into 5 parts.
T    Turning point is also referred to as the climax.
R    Rising action is complicated by secondary conflicts.
U    Understanding the historical and cultural influences on a play.
C    Climax occurs in the third act.
T    Tragedies end with a castastrophe.
U    Understand the relationship of script to performance.
R    Resolution is the moment of reversal after the climax.
E    Exposition provides the background information.

I have found with younger students it is best to do this as a whole class activity.  At the other end of the spectrum, for older students I have found that this summarizer works best when students work with a partner or in small groups.

I hope you will experiment with this summarizer and let us know how it goes.

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Best Effort,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Daily Assignment #49: Summarizer-4 Box Synectics

Synectics means bringing together diverse elements.  That is what you do when using this summarizer.

The teacher draws a large box and divides it into 4 quadrants. Students name 4 everyday objects, e.g. pencil, bike, car, comb.  The teacher writes one object in each quadrant.  Based on the topic studied, have the students brainstorm 3-5 similes for each word.


  • How is the respiratory system like a pencil?  tree?  car?  comb?
  • How is an atom like a...?
  • How is a quadrilateral like a...?
  • How is division like a...?
  • How is dribbling like a...?
  • How is/was Macbeth like a...?
This summarizer can be done as a whole group, small group, or with partners.  If in small groups or with partners, have students share out their favorites.

For students who have not yet studied similies, this strategy does not work.  They just don't understand how to make the connections.  So, I recommend this strategy for grades 4-12.

I hope you will take the opportunity to experiment with this strategy and then let us know how it goes.

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Best Effort,

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Daily Assignment #48: Summarizer- Ticket to Leave

Ticket to Leave is a great summarizer to use if there is only a little time left in the class or day.  Students write or verbally respond to something about their learning.  Responses can be written in a journal, on a slip of paper handed to the teacher, as they leave the room, or said to the whole class, or said to the teacher as they leave the room.

For example:

  • 1 important thing you learned about ....  
  • What is 1 question you have...?
  • Solve this problem...
  • What might be the reasons for....?
  • What is the Main Ideas ...?
  • Name 3 liquids.
  • Name 3 gasses
  • 2 important things you learned on the field trip
  • What study strategy will you use tonight to prepare for the test?

I hope you will experiment with this strategy and let us know how it goes.

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Best Effort,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Daily Assignment #47: Summarizer- The Envelope, Please

The Envelope, Please is a way to get all students involved in an end of class review/summary.  At the beginning of class, give each student a question in an envelope pertaining to the lesson.  At the end of the class, the teacher randomly selects a student and ask for "the envelope, please."  The teacher then reads the question aloud and the student who had the envelope answers the question.

If the envelopes are sealed, you might want to give students 2 minutes before the activity to open the envelopes and work on their responses.

The questions could also be used for a written homework assignment and then used for a quick review the next day.

I hope you will experiment with this strategy.  Let us know how it goes.

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Best Effort,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Daily Assignment #46: Summarizers

First, I apologize for not posting Sunday night.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I did not have access to a computer.  Thank you for checking in anyway.

My focus for the next 2 weeks will be summarizers.  The word summarize means to give a brief statement of the main points of something.  Summarizers bring closure to a lesson or a day. They are a way to assess student learning and only take 5-10 minutes. Through summarizers teachers will discover confusions, misconceptions or misunderstandings and design future lessons accordingly. They can also be an effective strategy during a lesson, especially if students have been listening to a lecture or reading a lengthy piece of writing. For example, using Paired Verbal Fluency will help students to process the information before taking on more information.  Summarizers help students to make connections to prior learning and to summarize their thoughts. Summarizers help students retain what they have learned.  Research has shown that students who do not use a summarizer at the end of a lesson lose 85% of what they have learned within the first 24 hours.

"By teaching summarizing techniques, teachers' can enhance students' ability to synthesize and organize  information in a way that captures the main ideas and supporting details."  Robert Marzano

3*2*1 Summarizer

Write down:    3 facts you have learned
                        2 facts that surprised you
                        1 question you have

The 3*2*1 can be adapted for the content/activity.

Other examples:
3 things I learned today
2 things I want to learn more about
1 question I have

3 ways to make $1.00
2 ways to make $ .50
1 way to make $1.00 with the fewest coins

3 most important things I learned
2 questions that still need to be answered
1 way this learning connects with what I learned before

3 important facts I've learned about photosynthesis
2 connections I made with other science projects
1 question I have after reading the text

3 characteristics of Scrooge
2 comparisons of Scrooge and Cratchit
1 theme of the selection

I hope you will experiment with this summarizer and let us know how it goes.  On Wednesday I will describe another summarizer for you.

In the meantime, please share this blog site with colleagues and friends. If you haven't already, please consider becoming a "Follower".

Best Effort.