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Posts Tagged ‘word cards’
Killing ten birds with one stone

I have prepared millions of documents for homework, hundreds of exams and power point presentations since I started teaching. I changed some exams into worksheet and some quizzes into weekend homework but I have never used a document for ten different purposes till I discovered the functionality of ‘word cards’. They have become my magic cards by changing their roles in each activity.

The story of my word cards started while I was teaching 4th graders. Some of my students were having difficulties about learning vocabularies and spelling. The first set of word cards (power point slides) I prepared was to present the new words in a challenging reading text and that was really painful. I spent a long time to select the right picture for each word and I worked hard to use the new words in sample sentences. I used the power point slides as a pre-reading activity to teach the words. The sample sentences on the slides were the pieces of the story just like a summary. After I finished the lesson, I put the pages of computer printout on the frame around the board. I named them ‘word cards’. The next day, I asked the class to retell the story by looking at the word cards around the board and that was a great warm-up and revision. The result was great. My students liked the slide show and the word cards around the board and remembered the words even weeks later.

The very first word card I prepared:)

I thought that would be a pity to throw away the word cards after I finished the unit so I decided to find out some other ways to use them.  You can think that it is killing two birds with one stone but discovering ten different ways to use the same set of cards changed this idiom for me. Now, It is like killing ten birds with one stone:)

Here are 10 ways to use words cards:

1. Power point presentation: This is the very first thing you should do. Only one presentation will be enough for all the other ways below. It is possible to use  the presentation as a pre, while or a post activity.

2. Printouts: Put the printouts above the board so your students will see them easily.

3. Picture Dictionary: Take a printout as handouts with 6 or 9 slides on one page and make enough copies for your students. Each student can stick each a set of word cards on a notebook and create their own picture dictionary. If you want, you can assign your students to write their own sentences under each word.

4. Card Box: When you start a new lesson /  unit / module,  do not throw away the previous word cards. Keep them in a box in the classroom. A student can be responsible for collecting the word cards in the box.

5. Word Corner: Take printouts as handouts with 2 or 3 slides and make a poster of the lesson /  unit / module. This way, the previous word cards will also be displayed in a smaller area.

6. Pop Quiz: Leave blanks instead of the words in the sample sentences on the word cards and take a printout as handouts with 6 or 9 slides on a page. Give this as a pop quiz at the end of each lesson /  unit / module.

7. Games: You can play many games using the cards. Be creative and adapt the games you know. For example: Ask a student to come to the front and sit facing the others. Pick up a card from the box and put it on the board. Ask the other students to explain the word to student who is sitting in front of the board and he / she tries to find the word.

8. Mini Booklets: Take a printout as handouts with 6 or 9 slides and distribute them to the students after having enough photocopies. They cut each little slide on the handout and then staple them. They can carry it in their pockets and revise the words on the way home.

9. Speaking Cards: Each student picks up a word card from the box and talk about the word for 2 minutes without stopping.

10. Study Cards: The students can play games or just have a look at them to revise at the break times.

About very young / young learners who cannot read and write:

The success of the word cards gave me the courage to spread the technique to all levels in the school (from 1st Grade to 8th Grade) and my colleagues were luckily supportive. It was the first term of the academic year and the 1st Graders didn’t know how to read and write, so some colleagues thought it would be meaningless to give the words on the cards. I remembered my dear friend Abha Akyer (Thanks to her:) who was a Montessori teacher using similar word cards for the kindergarten students who did not know how to read and write. She told me that her students start reading the words on the cards after a while. That encouraged me a lot and I insisted on giving the words on the cards for the 1st Graders. In the end, I was happy to be right. The 1st graders started to recognize and read the words before they learnt how to read and write. In the second term, they were reading and writing. They were also very good at spelling and pronouncing.

Tips about using word cards:

* Choose an appropriate font and font size for each level.

* Be stable and prepare word cards for each unit / lesson / module. It is a long term goal so don’t give up. Be patient!

* Do not treat the word cards as a part of the classroom decoration. Use them as much as you can in diferent ways.

* If you think preparing the word cards would take a long time for you, you can involve your students in the preparation process. It would be good to give responsibilities to the students.

* If you share the classroom with other teachers, do not forget to inform them about the cards you will use around the board. You can also create a special corner or area to put the cards. Do not forget the vice principal or the principal because some can be really sensitive about the walls that can be damaged by blu tac.

* Sometimes finding a picture for a word can be difficult. Especially for the upper levels. Then, you can create short dialogues or callouts to give the meaning of the words.

P.S: Thanks to Sinem Cihan, a sweet young colleague from Bahcesehir College, for asking me some advice about teaching vocabularies. She inspired me to write this post.