"Copy these words and their definitions. Test on Friday."
Sound familiar? That's how my middle school teachers taught vocabulary, and that's how I used to too. Rote memorization can be a useful tool, but it only makes one connection (word to definition) in your brain and doesn't help much if you have to go from the definition to the word or if the definition is even slightly different on a test or quiz.
Vocabulary cards are far better. A good set of vocabulary task cards should include a card for each word, a card for each definition and a card with an image or illustration for each. With a set of cards like this, students are able to complete several interactive, cooperative learning activities in small groups.
Your students are able to create a large KIM chart with the cards, or make connections by grouping the words into teacher-given categories, or make different connections by grouping them into group discussed and created categories (named groups). Your students can even play several fun vocabulary games with them! Click here for a link to 3 free vocabulary card games you can use with any set of vocabulary cards, or click the picture below to check out task cards for World History.
CHAPMS is a classroom management system that is used a lot in elementary schools. I know, I know, this is a blog for secondary teachers. But trust me, this stuff is great for students of any age or socio-economic background.
Basically, CHAMPS is a way to quickly let your students know what you expect from them for whatever activity they are about to do. There are a lot of great resources out there - the book, numerous websites, CHAMPS posters and charts for display and use in your classroom like this FREE one below, and lots more. You can also click on the picture for a FREE copy!
I will continue to examine CHAMPS letter by letter beginning with my last post about "C" or conversation. It focused on managing voice levels. The next one, "H" is about how students are to ask for help. After that, "A" is about overtly explaining the activity. "M" will be about types and amounts of movement that will be expected and accepted. Finally, "P" will be about participation. If done properly, your students will get to experience the "S" of CHAMPS more easily - Student Success!
Clicking on the free CHAMPS poster will also get you the CHAMPS lesson planning worksheet seen below!
Okay, so before I discovered CHAMPS, I would hear the "magic" teachers talk about the awesome group work their students were doing while smiling and picturing the utter loud chaotic mess my room would become if I let my students talk to each other. I could see Andre and Drew at table three continually one-upping each other in loudness while the quiet girl at table six just puts her head down and wonders how she got stuck in Mr. Robinson's class of chaos.
Before I found CHAMPS, I'd see things like noise level stop lights that go from green to yellow to red as the kids get louder and louder. But, I quickly realized that if I got one of those I'd still have a loud class that got loud too many times. Wouldn't it be better if they didn't get loud in the first place?
Yes! This is where the C of CHAMPS comes in. The "C" stands for conversation, or voice level. With CHAMPS, this is the first thing you need to explicitly tell your students before beginning an activity. It might sound like an elementary thing, but I swear by my voice level chart.
Voice level 0 is no talking; this is used for and modeled before the students do individual work. Voice Level 1 is a whisper; I sometimes call it the "don't get in trouble in church voice." Students use this voice level when working with one other person. Voice Level 2 is used when students are talking with two or more people (i.e. group activities). I call voice level 2 the "nice restaurant voice level." By the way, when installing voice levels, it's fun to see what middle schoolers consider a "nice" restaurant (ex: the Subway that isn't in the Walmart). Finally, Voice Level 3 is the class presentation, or teacher voice. Calling it the "teacher voice" also sends a message about who is usually supposed to use it.
The picture above shows a Voice Level chart I use in my class. Some of the ways you can use it is to have a big one posted that you refer to, or you could have small ones at individual tables for students to readily access. Another interesting way, for those of you who are technologically inclined, is to embed it directly into PowerPoint or Google Slide presentations.
"Really? Andre's an angel in my class." Agh! Isn't that the worst? Andre seems to come into the room for the sole purpose of disrupting class and ruining the lesson plan while right next door he's an angel.
I used to have a lot of Andres, especially earlier in my career. Lately, in conversations with other teachers, I've noticed that more and more the Andres of the world are good for me and rotten for others. Why? I always thought there was just something magic about certain teachers - some mystical power that sealed the lips and opened the minds of the Andres in the school. But there isn't. So, what's the answer?
CHAMPS. CHAMPS is almost always the answer to any classroom management or participation issues. In my next several blog posts, we will be exploring what CHAMPS is, and how to effectively use it as a classroom management tool.
I think we can all agree that teaching vocabulary is important. We knew it before all of the educational brain research became popular, and it's just confirmed what we teachers always thought. Marzano says it's crucial, and Hattie says vocabulary programs have an effect size of 0.67.
With that in mind we spent a lot of time this past year focusing on vocabulary this year. It really improved unit test scores this year.
How did we focus on vocabulary? Games! After introducing and explicitly teaching the vocabulary words we played many games with words. I placed time specifically in the lessons to play the games, and if there was extra time we would get the games back out again to play.
The good news is that students LOVE playing games and it made learning and understanding vocabulary a lot of fun. What are the games we played?
Memory is the first game we play. The students match the words and definitions. The students that need it can have their vocabulary charts with them.
Vocabo is a great game were students make connections between the vocabulary words. As they play they need to show the connection between the vocabulary words. The first one done yells "Vocabo" (like Uno!).
The last game we play is Go Fish! Not only do the students need to make connections, but it becomes even harder because they need to connect the words, definitions, and pictures to make a match.
Want to play these games in your classroom? Sign up for my newsletter or go HERE to Teachers Pay Teachers to get a free copy of the directions.
Need vocabulary cards for your games? Find them HERE!