Great One to Practice

Jul 7, 2014 | by Janice Smith

A little context for this week’s clip…

Ms. Cirino is a 7th grade English teacher at Henderson Collegiate.  For as long as I’ve known her as a teacher she has integrated vocabulary chants as part of their weekly vocab routine.  Learn new words each week, earn their chants.  The chants are short, incorporate the definition of the word, and do it in a way that’s catchy and makes it easier for students to remember.  While these chants are usually earned on Mondays, each day there is a portion of class where they practice and spiral in chants from past words.  This is what we see here.  Take a look!

What We Love the Most…

  • While each week they learn chants for only a small number of new vocabulary words in order to ensure complete mastery by the end of the week, here we see Ms. Cirino intentionally building in time to spiral in past words.  These are not limited to the week before, but the month before, unit before, even in some cases the year before (Ms. Cirino looped with this particular group of students, and was also their English teacher the prior year).
  • We also think this is a great example of the tag Assume the Best- #Content.  What you see at the beginning, before reviewing the chant for ‘elude’, is a cold call to make sure they remember the definition.  The first two students she cold calls get it incorrect.  There are multiple ways to respond to this, and many teachers might experience some frustration when students can’t remember what we’ve taught earlier in the year (I certainly know I felt this on a regular basis), we don’t see any of that in Ms. Cirino.  Her response instead sends the strong message of ‘This is why it’s important to review and spiral’, assuming the best about her students when it comes to content.  We can also find examples in the library for #Behavior where teachers implement this same idea when it comes to student behavior.
  • This is just one piece of their start-of-class routine.  Ms. Cirino does an amazing job of starting off class with a variety of activities that work to review content (vocab is just one example) and set them up for success in that day’s lesson.  Plus they’re all engaging and diverse (some require standing, some class conversations/debates, some rapid fire review), chunking a 1 hour and 1o minute class into smaller pieces that make it easier for students to stay consistently engaged.


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