Thinking beyond simple word list exercises can boost literacy
- Expanding literacy and vocabulary exercises beyond simple word lists and definitions can enrich their learning experience, according to Edutopia.
- One exercise suggested is an interactive word wall, which requires students to use index cards, markers and paper arrows to make connections between words and images, and it can be used across subjects like math, social studies, reading, writing and science.
- Another exercise, image/symbol sorting, has groups of students use large chart paper or poster board, color or black-and-white images/symbols, markers, scissors and glue to sort images into similar groups, identify commonalities, and write out the reasoning for each grouping using required terminology and previously gained knowledge.
When it comes to engaging students in learning, active exercises rather than those that promote rote memorization are likely to have a greater impact. As an additional upside, both exercises suggested by Edutopia offer the opportunity for differentiation and personalization, as students' responses are open-ended and a matter of their individual interpretation, requiring critical thinking as opposed to the selection of one set "right or wrong" answer.
Efforts to apply literacy and critical thinking across subject areas also comply with Common Core and similar standards adopted in recent years. The goal, especially with exercises like these, is to help students build more "soft skills" around teamwork, creative thought and empathy that are now desired by employers.
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