Monday, February 16, 2009

February 2009: Sarah Belanger, Verbs & Nouns Superstar


Background

America Learns Global Strategy of the Month | February 2009
 University of Michigan

Meet Sarah Belanger, and get ready to move!

Sarah is a junior at the University of Michigan.  She’s been tutoring for the past two years with the University’s America Reads Tutoring Corps as a work/study student.  

As she tried to help her students grasp the differences between verbs and nouns, she found that simply reviewing that “verbs are action words” and “nouns are people, places or things” wasn’t cutting it.

Sarah BelangerSarah decided to adapt the classic game of charades to help her students understand the differences between verbs and nouns.  As you’ll read below, it worked out brilliantly! 

Meg McKenzie, Sarah's supervisor, told us that “Sarah’s strategy is a great movement-based activity.   This multiple intelligence activity is great for bodily-kinesthetic learning styles, in which the child learns best through touching or moving and processes knowledge through bodily sensations.”

Check out Sarah’s strategy below and let us know what you think by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page!

The Strategy

Verb & Noun Charades
(Learning the Differences Between the Two)

Created by: Sarah Belanger, University of Michigan America Reads Tutoring Corps (America Learns Network member since 2004)
Topic: Grammar
Grade Levels: First - Third
Arrangements: One-on-One; Small Group
Materials: - Note cards (3” by 5” or larger)
- A hat or bag that will hold the cards

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: My tutee was having a hard time with learning the difference between nouns and verbs.  Simply reviewing that verbs are action words and nouns are people, places or things wasn't cutting it.
   
Step 1: Create the cards you'll use for the activity.

Prior to the lesson, I wrote out one verb on each note card.  I also created note cards that had a single noun written on them. 

Place all of the note cards in a hat or bag so that the student can pick out one card at a time without looking.

   
Step 2: Play the game.

To begin, introduce the rules.  Explain that one student at a time will pick a card from the hat/bag. He’ll then act out the word without speaking or making any other sounds, and everybody else will try to guess the word.  You and other students can call out guesses as they come to mind.  (If "calling out guesses" gets out of hand, you may ask the students to raise their hands before calling out a name.  You may also give each student one chance to call out a word before students can make additional guesses.)

Getting Advanced:
- If you’d like to make the game more challenging, before your student acts out the word, you can ask him to first use the gesture of “raising his fingers” to indicate how many syllables the word contains. Two fingers means two syllables, three fingers means three syllables, etc.

- Your student can also use the following signs to communicate other details about the word before or while he is acting:

- “Sounds like" - Cup your hand to your ear or pull your earlobe. 

- "Short word" - Thumb and index finger close together. Commonly used for "a", "the", "of", "and". 

- "Shorter or longer version of the word you're guessing" - hands upright pushing together or pulling apart.

- After several rounds, you may find that it will be helpful to have a pre-determined time limit (such as four to five minutes) so that you don’t get stuck on a single word.

   
Step 3: After each round, ask the student who acted out the word to share whether the word is a verb or noun, and why that’s so.

If the student is incorrect, consider asking another student to act out the word in the same way the student at issue acted it out.  (If there aren't other students, you should act it out.)  This way, the student at issue will have an opportunity to "see the word" as well, not just act it out.  Ask if what's being acted out is an action or a person, place or thing.   (If you feel You can get quick definitions of nouns and verbs at America Learns' Eduspeak page.)

This activity helped my tutee to understand the difference between nouns and verbs and was fun at the same time!

   
Step 4: Reflection questions to ask students following the activity:

1) What was one of the differences between the charades that acted out verbs and the charades that acted out nouns?

2) How will you remember the difference between nouns and verbs?

3) Which words did we use today that you'd like to include in some of your writing?

   
For America Learns Network Members: If one or more of your students needs additional learning and review opportunities in this area, consider using one or more of these strategies from the National Strategy Database:

- Around the World with Nouns

- Introducing Nouns

- Verb-A-Thon!

Thoughts?
How Else Can Tutors and Mentors Address this Issue?

Please share your own thoughts and experiences in the comments area below.

2 comments:

Meg said...

Way to go Sarah! We're very proud of your great work! You are a wonderful example for the rest of our University of Michigan America Reads tutors!
- Meg,
Associate Director, America Reads Tutoring Corps, University of Michigan

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic - I've been a reading mentor for the past decade in the Dearborn Heights School District, and can't wait to try this out with my students! Thanks, Sarah! - Jennifer W.. Ross School of Business MBA Candidate 2010.