Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 2009: Megan Conners, THE Superlatives Superstar


America Learns Strategy of the Month



For the first time, we’re not only introducing our latest America Learns Network Superstar in writing, but also via video.

Below, you’ll have an opportunity to meet Megan Conners.  The 23 year old AmeriCorps NCCC alumnus just began serving as an adult literacy and ESL tutor through Literacy AmeriCorps Palm Beach County in Florida.

Audrey McDonough, the director of Megan’s AmeriCorps program, told us that Megan “drives one hour to [her service site] and back home each day to teach adults who are at the very basic levels of English speaking and reading ability.  Her students are primarily seasonal farm workers who come to school every day to improve their English and better their lives.”

Megan’s Strategy: Sentence Sequencing Cards
Megan became a Network Superstar by developing an engaging strategy to help her learners understand and practice the use of superlatives (words like biggest, smallest, taller).  She created the strategy as an alternative to the extremely confusing lesson offered in her learners’ text book. 

Though Megan has only been an adult literacy tutor for a month and a half, she’s already having a national impact.  A number of tutors and instructors we serve across the country have replicated her strategy over the past week!

Written text of the strategy is below. Check it out!

The Strategy

Sentence Sequencing Cards to Practice Superlatives & Other Skills

Created by: Megan Conners, Literacy AmeriCorps Palm Beach County (Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County) (America Learns Network member since August 2009)
Topics: Grammar
English Language Learners
Grade Levels: Beginning Adult English Language Learners
Arrangements: One-on-One; Small Group; Large Group
Materials: - One pen, pencil or thin marker
- Index cards
- Optional: Examples of sentence sequencing cards I used (PDF | Word)

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

Situation: My class had just finished a chapter about shopping that also included superlatives. I was having trouble explaining the inconsistent rules that would tell a learner when to say "the most" and when to put "-est" on the end of an adjective. Even after working on these things for a full week, I did not feel like the superlatives were sticking in their minds.

This activity helped my learners remember many superlatives. It also provided them with an opportunity to practice their listening and reading comprehension skills while having fun learning together!

Step 1: Make sure you have the same number of index cards as you have students.
Step 2: Create the cards.

On the lined side of the first index card, write a question containing a superlative that deals with the topic your students are working on (in this case, shopping). For example, “Is this the biggest television you have here?"

Take the second index card, and on the un-lined side write the answer to the question. For example, "I'm sorry, this is the biggest one we have here."

Now, flip the second index card over to the lined side and write a new question. You will write the answer to this question on the un-lined side of the third index card.

Continue this pattern until every index card has a question on one side and an answer to a different question on the other. Download the questions and answers I used (PDF | Word).

Important Notes:
1) The last index card's question should be answered on the un-lined side of the first index card you used.

2) To keep things simple for your learners, be sure that each answer card corresponds to one and on only one question card (and vice versa).

Step 3: Double-check your work.

Review you index cards to make sure the ordering of the cards will work when given to your class. Make sure there are no questions that have multiple answers!
Step 4: Lead the activity.

Give each of your students one index card and explain: “I’m going to give each of you one card [show a card]. The lined side of the card [point to the lined side] contains a question. The side of the card without lines [point to this side] has an answer to a question. I’m going to ask one of you to read your question. Then, all of you will turn over your card to see if your card contains the answer to that question. If you believe that you have the answer, please read your card out loud.”

Listen to your students and encourage them as they try to figure out when they should say their answers out loud. Continue until everyone has asked and answered a question.

Repeat the activity several times, each time giving the students different index cards.

Prepare to be amazed as they remember those questions and answers better than anything they saw in the text book! Use this strategy for superlatives or any other topic!

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