Back-to-School greetings from the Boardmaker Curriculum Team! In our last post, we outlined the process that lead us to our latest offering in pre-made curriculum: Boardmaker Activities-to-Go. In case you aren’t familiar, it’s a series of free, printable, thematic activities that are differentiated so that you can support your students of diverse abilities in K-12. You can find the activities here goboardmaker.com and teacherspayteachers.com.
Once you’ve located the activities and matched your student or group to the correct level, you can introduce the activities in the order in which they are numbered. Hint: that means no planning time for you.
Beyond that, you can be assured that Boardmaker Activities-to-Go fulfills a science, social studies, or functional life skills block (depending on the monthly theme) for an entire week. And because each of the three levels contains a fun and informative book, you can also feel confident that you are simultaneously addressing comprehension/ELA goals.
The members of the Boardmaker Curriculum Team share a commitment to grounding our pre-made curriculum solutions in today’s best practices. Today’s post reveals how we think about these activities and ways to implement them in your home, clinic, or classroom. These five easy teaching tips (and the research that supports them) will make implementation seamless for you and your students!
Tip #1: Read and Reread!
We suggest you read and reread the same book each day of the week. And each time you read, set a new purpose. Some purposes might include reading to identify the main idea, reading to think of another good title, or even reading to connect the book to a personal experience. Rereading this way will boost text comprehension, fluency, and even independence. You’ll notice confidence and engagement increasing with each reading. That will make the experience all the more rewarding! (Fountas, I. C., & Pinnell, G. S.,1996)
Tip #2: Teach High Utility Words
Experts tell us that vocabulary knowledge, and you know what? It’s true! The more words you know, the more concepts you will understand. The targeted words in each unit of Boardmaker Activities to Go are those that give children both the power to engage more fully in school and life. These words were chosen because they are frequently encountered in books, yet they may not be those that children possess in their expressive vocabulary. Extend and enhance word learning by asking students to act out each new word and record it on video! Additionally, point out the targeted words as you come across them in other books, lessons, and conversations. (Baumann & Kame'enui, 2004.).
Tip #3: Provide Repetition with Variety
We all need repetition when learning new things but to make it stick, we’ve got to change it up! Providing repetition with variety is easy when using Boardmaker Activities to Go. Beyond Tip #1 (Read and reread for new purposes) activities like the board games, matching, and bingo provide repeated but varied ways to interact with the vocabulary and concepts that are introduced in each book. If you have a Boardmaker Online account, then you can access your account and create flashcards or a sorting activity. If you don’t, you sign up for a 30-day free trial at boardmakeronline.com and select from hundreds of pre-made templates that will help you extend or enrich student learning (Erickson, K. A., Clendon, S., Abraham, L., Roy, V., & Van de Carr, H., 2005).
Tip #4: Model and Support Communication
Decades of research tells us that language and literacy reinforce each other. Always provide access to the communication boards and model how one can use them to communicate thoughts, feelings, and ideas during lessons. The core board is extremely helpful for teaching students to find, use, and read this highly useful bank of words. The little words board helps students connect thoughts and ideas for language or during writing while the fringe board and Quickfires give students fast and meaningful access to content words and everyday social exchanges. Using some or all these boards in any combination will maximize communication and open a critical window into you’re your students know and think (Koppenhaver, D. A., Coleman, P. P., Kalman, S. L., & Yoder, D. E.,1991).
Tip #5: Let Success Create Success!
Lasting learning involves an artful mix of both easy and challenging experiences. When things are too easy, students check out; too hard and they act out. Each level of Boardmaker Activities-to-Go provides that just-so mix of ease and challenge. And because most of the activities are playful by nature, students quickly parlay a little bit of success into a lot of confidence and engagement. One easy way to build on this success is to encourage students to take work home to share, play, or be the teacher. There’s no better way to learn something than to teach others what we are learning! (Reyes, M. R., Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., White, M., & Salovey, P., 2012)
Communication works both ways! Chat us in the comments section of the Boardmaker Facebook Groupto share your experiences with Boardmaker Activities to Go. Once you join, you’ll be eligible for more tips and free giveaways! Let us know what you think about Boardmaker Activities-to-Go in the comments below. Happy Teaching from the Boardmaker Curriculum Team!