I begin a series of lessons leading to the socratic seminar by concretely practicing skill of using context to determine the meaning of unknown words. I do this so that it is easier for scholars as they apply the skill to text in preparation for seminar. I start by showing a video about storm chasing to help build background knowledge for my ELL scholars.
I tell scholars to watch the video and jot down what the topic is and the important words that they hear. Before we even begin watching, we jot a quick T-chart in our notebooks to help us organize our thinking. Here's how we organized our thinking.
Then, I explain that the first time we watch the video, we're just going to watch it and think about the topic. The second time we watch, we jot down words we think are important. I stop every 30 seconds to a minute to jot down important words. Initially, I think aloud above the video saying, "Oh, I just heard an important word. I'm writing down tornado." As the video continues, I do less thinking aloud so that students have the opportunity to practice without as much support.
Finally, I tell scholars to watch the video a third time. This time, they listen for and jot down what they think the word means. I pause every 30 seconds to 1 minute. At the beginning of the video, I think aloud about the meaning of the words. I model writing down the meaning. Toward the middle and the end, I just pause and let students write down the meanings that they heard.
I guide scholars to think about what the words mean by using the context of the video. I also remind them that important words help you to better understand the topic. They tell you something distinct about the topic without which could change some of the major ideas within the video.
This is day 1 of analyzing Eye of the Storm by Stephen Kramer and Warren Faidley in order to prepare for a socratic seminar on important words found in the text. In the first read, I read part of the text out loud to scholars (to make sure that all scholars have access to the text). I pause every few words to have scholars read the word paused upon out loud. This increases engagement and allows me to ensure that ALL scholars are following along as we read.
As we read, I pause to highlight key vocabulary. I use a red tag to indicate words that I don't know but that I think are important, orange tags to indicate a word I know in context and a yellow tag to indicate a word that I know and that are important (see the tag board). I think aloud about how to do this so that scholars can learn from hearing a strong reader construct meaning.
Then, I model how to record my answers on the graphic organizer. Scholars will do this at the end of the read. I have scholars capture their thinking on the graphic organizer because we share text books between classes. We cannot leave tags on words. This also gives me the opportunity to collect each scholars thinking for the day and ensure that everyone is on the right track. Finally, scholars place tags back in their tag board so that we can re-use them.
During the guided practice, scholars split into heterogeneous partnerships. Above grade level readers read with grade level readers, grade level readers read with below grade level readers. I do not pair above with below as that can be very frustrating for both scholars. Scholars are able to get up and move to a comfy place in the classroom so that they can stretch a bit and change scenery. This enhances engagement and can inspire creativity.
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Scholars complete reading the text and continue to mark words with tags depending on if they know the important word (yellow), know it in context (orange), or don't know it at all but think it is important (red). I pull a small group of my ELL scholars to read aloud to so that they can access the text. I also need to more explicitly model how to use context to determine the meaning of unknown words. I build background knowledge during this time as needed.