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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Making IEW fun

COMMAS SAVE LIVES2 years ago, when we joined co-op, I had no idea what I was going to be asked to teach.  I didn't know what I was 'qualified' to teach other students.  It's one thing to mess up my own kids, but other peoples kids..... well, that's scary!

There were openings for several subjects.  I never liked history until I started homeschooling, I'm still not very good at math, and I enjoy science.  I really really enjoy reading and writing.

Now, what grade?  No little kids.  I love little kids, just in very small doses.  I went with fifth and sixth grade since it was my older daughters class.  The curriculum the co-op uses is called IEW.  I had never heard of it before.  I wish I had!

I taught all last year and saw a great improvement in the students.  My class was never the fun one that everyone looked forward to, though.  Who cares about where to put commas and making your writing exciting with better adjectives.  This year, with mostly new students, I wanted to get the students (still fifth and sixth grade) excited and enjoy my class.  You learn better when you enjoy what you are being taught and actually pay attention to what is being said.

Idea 1)  Mad libs.  Who doesn't love silly stories?  I found a mad libs book while walking through Kroger this past summer.  Picked it up, and thought it would be fun - I'm so glad I did!  I never tell the kids the title, I give them a note card with a word (adjective, noun, plural noun, body part, color....) and they have to quickly think of a word.  After all the blanks are filled in, of course I read the hilarious story.

Idea 2)  Make a point.  I was that student in school.  I was the one who would ask, why is this important? Why do I need to know this?  When will I ever use this?  I come armed and ready.  I printed "Let's eat Grandma.  Let's eat, Grandma."  On the board.  Instantly, one of my quick witted girls announces "Commas save lives!"

Shades of feelingsIdea 3)  Banned words.  If you are not familiar with IEW, I am not talking about curse words.  IEW has a list of banned, or boring, words that are not allowed in writing.  Big/small, pretty/ugly, good/bad, nice/mean, big/small, a lot.

I found this idea on Pinterest.  Went to Walmart and got a bunch of paint samples, a few packs of the metal rings, and started making it.  My samples are longer and have 7 colors.  I left 2 blank, so the students could fill it in on their own.  The backside has the 'banned' word.

After handing these out to the students, I decided to do the same thing with emotions.  We are currently adding emotions to our writing.  I do not allow them to simply say "He was happy."

The students really enjoyed these.  The parents did too.

Idea 4) Make homework fun.  I saw this idea, again, on Pinterest.  After typing it up to look like my normal homework, I edited it a bit for my class and passed it out.  I'm not sure who laughed more, the moms or students!

Idea 5)  Bingo.  I found this website that lets me make bingo cards.  I entered in all of the first semester vocabulary words (we test over all the previous words each time we test.  so our tests get longer and longer as the semester goes on)  I will read out the definition and if the student has the word, they place their token over the word.  I figure this will be a great way to test them without making it a test.

Idea 6)  Don't just sit there.  A cheap pack of index cards can do a lot.  I put our vocabulary words on a card, then on a totally separate card, I put the definition (so for 10 words I have 20 cards).  I semi-equally divvy up the cards to the students, trying not to give them a word and the matching definition, and tell them that they have 2 minutes or so to find the match to their word.

This not only promotes learning vocabulary, but also teamwork.  If student A has the word waiver, and student B has the definition, they have to trade.  Also, both students should know weather or not the definition and word go together.

The students also like this because they are up, and not just sitting in their seats.

After the 2 minutes,  I go around the room and each student reads their word and definition.  The entire class confirms or tells me if the match is correct or incorrect.  Playing this game really reinforces the definitions multiple times and with all the learning styles.

BEST. TEACHER. EVER.Idea 7)  Keep it light.  2 more pinterest finds.    I have not tried either yet, but already have the test made.  I am wondering who is going to get it and who will think I am just completely nuts.  Either way - we will all have a good laugh.

If you are a literature/English teacher, or home school mom, I hope some of these ideas help you out.  They can even be done in several other subjects.  I already printed a set of bingo cards for my daughters history/geo teacher with the states listed (they are learning all the capitals).

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