Friday, 15 October 2010

Wordle for extensive re-telling

I wanted to challenge my confident boys to be a lot more productive yesterday - and in the process milk their OUP Story Tree reader for all it was worth. They first attacked it, underlining new words or words which they weren't sure about pronouncing. At home they listened to the story on CD, and in class the following week told me what they'd learnt. One way I like to do this is to play the CD in class and pause it (apparently randomly!); first hand up gets to tell class what the next word is, and score a point.

They have also since done the puzzles & crossword problems etc in the accompanying workbook. Spelling is behind their reading level, but that is not a key aim; of course, I expect them to be spelling at the level we are managing phonetically in class 'proper'.

I used wordle to make a word cloud out of the entire story - it only came to a paragraph in word, and even with my typing non-skills it didn't take me long. Wordle is a few clicks of simplicity itself. I wanted to include all text - it can remove 'little words'. One mistake I made was punctuating capital letters at the beginning of sentences - I ended up with "The" as well as "the" etc. Memo to self = only capitalise names.

As we'd 'listened' through already to warm up, I then asked the lads to close their books and re-tell me the story. Umming and arring of course. A couple of key words, but nothing coherent. Of course! Very unfair to dump such a hard task on when I gave them a print out of the word cloud each, they quickly recognised the vocab & started nodding appreciatively. They still could not put the story back together 'in their heads'; my book open with text covered, and off we went. I'd say they could produce 60% of the text in pretty good word order. We all knew it wasn't quite right though, and they were keen to correct themselves. Key part of the exercise!

I let them check in their own books - on the floor in the corner of the room. Naturally, they could memorise a sentence & recite it at the table. To control the blurt, they were asked to point out the words (on their clouds) as they went. Slowed down fluency? In a way, yes. Made them focus on the word order proper? Yep! Did they feel really pumped up about being able to re-tell the story? Absolutely!

The next tool I want to try out is websequitur - have the lads rebuild the next book (The Magic Key). Cooperatively or competitively though?