It is such a joy to teach a group of students that LOVE to read. This year I am thrilled to have a class full of boys and girls who absolutely love reading and don’t read because they have to, but read for the pure joy of reading. Just this morning I had a swarm of boys standing around me who couldn’t talk fast enough about The 39 Clues books. We had the best discussion on what we would do if we were in a similar situation. It was one of those moments that makes all of the work throughout the year worthwhile. I also have a group of girls who love The Babysitter Club books, which thrills me, because that was my absolute favorite series when I was their age. I have to give credit to my school’s amazing K-2 teachers who have built a solid reading foundation and instilled this enjoyment of reading in my students.
I feel like my next big hurdle is to expand that enjoyment and comprehension to nonfiction texts. As a reader, I also prefer fiction books, but I realize that it is critical for my students to be able to read and comprehend nonfiction texts. I love using my social studies and science curriculum to teach nonfiction reading strategies. I have found that many of my students struggle with academic vocabulary, and I’ve spent a great deal of time researching ways to improve this area.
One of my students’ and my favorite ways to practice academic vocabulary is through a game called Mile-a-Minute. One of the best parts of the game is that there is very little preparation required. All you need is a projector and vocabulary slides (I use PowerPoint) and you’re ready to go!
In the example below, Earth Science is the category and the words listed below are terms I want my
students to know.
This is an example of a social studies slide for Ancient Greece.
How to Play
This game is very similar to the game “Taboo”. You will need to assign each student a partner (my students sit in groups of 4, so I just pair up students who sit beside each other). Tell one partner to face the projector’s screen and one partner to face the opposite direction. As soon as students are ready, display a vocabulary slide and tell students to begin. The partner facing the screen should immediately tell their partner the category and try to get their partner to say all of the terms on the screen by providing clues such as definitions, synonyms, and antonyms. They cannot spell, give rhyming words, or say any of the words on the list, and of course NO PEEKING. You can either give
students a time limit to try to complete as many words as possible, or you can play until someone says all the words on the list.
After each round, discuss the terms and what clues could have been used for each of the terms. You can keep playing by having the partners switch spots and repeating the steps with a different slide.
I love this game, because it requires every student in the class to participate at the same time, and I love that students get instant feedback on their vocabulary knowledge. It is fast-paced and exciting for students and is an amazing review at the same time, and is a great game for when you have a couple extra minutes before or after a transition.