The Importance of Developing Metalinguistic Awareness

2 Jul
Climb to the top

Vocabulary instruction has gone through some significant changes over the years.  Some of you may recall when students  were assigned a list of words, often the spelling list, and then required to write the definitions.   A lot of students detested the tedious task of looking  up words in the dictionary and then copying the definitions.  Often the words in the definition were hard to understand so it became a copying task for many students and not much benefit for learning.  Thankfully we have gotten away from that. Developing metalinguistic awareness has become a more prominent educational goal. It can be especially beneficial when incorporated with vocabulary development. Now most of our teaching methods try to incorporate higher level thinking skills. Research has revealed that promoting  higher level thinking increases retention of information and allows students to integrate what they have learned.  

    For those of you who may need a refresher; Metalinguistic language  skills are strategies that are applied, either consciously or automatically, to an oral or written linguistic interaction to allow one to think about language.  It is our ability to think about language and manipulate it beyond it’s written structure.  Remember those crazy knock knock jokes  young  children attempt to say around  6 yrs.  They often lacked  the punch line because children are still getting the idea of double meaning words.  This is the age when children are just starting to figure out that words and phrases  can be manipulated.  When they acquire this thinking ability, they are demonstrating metalinguistic awareness.

  Studies have found that  reading comprehension and metalinguistic skills are strongly linked (Achugar, Schleppegrell, & Ote√≠za, 2007).  If we want to get the most value from our teaching, we want students to develop thinking skills that  can be adapted to various situations.  You may have known a student or two who was an early  reader with above average reading skills in the early grades.  They were great sight readers. These same students often faltered in the later elementary years.   They can  read the words but they are unable to comprehend what they read.  The sentence structure is more complex and often has hidden meanings.  Things like double meaning words, satire, and unusual phrasing trip students up.  Students lagging in their metalinguistic development can not adapt to the word meaning changes.

          So what does this mean when we are working with our students?  It means we want to encourage our students to think about language, be flexible, and think about if it makes sense.  It is more than reading  a string of words.   A memorized word meaning may not always work in every context.   They need to think about a variety of possible  meanings to get the best fit.  It means we want them to question, make associations, compare descriptive features, and contrast meanings.  We encourages students to be active thinkers and  in the process the information stays with them.

      For examples of speech materials using metalinguistics tasks, go to the top navigation heading and click on the section labeled Vocabulary.   There is a good sampling of cards for download there.  I have tried  to add a thinking component to many of my task cards.   I have listed word association cards at the bottom of the page.  Some of them are free.   Some have a free preview version so that you get 6 to 10 cards to try out. You can get a pretty good tool box by just downloading all the previews and free cards. 

Silly Sentences are example of an activity that forces students to think about facts and how words relate to each other. It provides opportunities for students to recognized when the meaning doesn’t fit and not take it at face value. This is an important skill for today when we are bombarded with false facts in social media. There are several sets of those for a free download in the vocabulary section. I hope the activities in vocabulary section help you to explore and enhance the way you work on vocabulary development with your students.

One Cut Books are Great for A Home School Activity

26 Mar
One cut book
Make Your Own Book

Are you looking for learning activities for your home schooled children during the extended school closures? One Cut Books are simple projects that can be used for multiple ages and grade levels.   They can be adapted well to any subject. They can be used for creative writing, vocabulary, listing facts, and articulation drill. You can use them to review information later on.

All you need to get started is paper and drawing or writing utensils.  There is a free template provided below. A computer and printer are needed to print the template, but you could get by with a ruler and measure out a template. You can also set the template up in Power Point using a 3×2 table without a border, inserted into a 8.5 x 11 inch page in landscape mode. You can then insert your own clip art. Remember that the clip art needs to be flipped upside down on the top section. When printing it out, make sure the printer is set to print the full 8.5 x 11 inch page, without a border. This will allow each page to be the same size when folded. You may need to go to custom settings on your printer to select “without border”. You need to print in landscape mode as well.

I have included a free download of the Penguin Preposition book to get you started. There is also a site that has already made books. A group of them have been made for you thanks to Judy Kuster and 22 graduate students at Minnesota State University.  Just go to this site http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster2/onecutbooks/onecutbooks.html   Thank you grad students.

Now let me show you how easy it is to make a book. Lets start with the template and directions. Students can write or draw their own images. I made the template in Power Point to make the Preposition Penguins book. You can download pdf version of this by clicking on the picture of the template below.

Click above for Penguin Preposition book
  1. After printing your template, fold it in half on the dot and dash line. This makes it easier for you to cut the red line. Cut the red line.
  2. Fold on the dash lines so it looks like this.

3. Fold the top section to the back along the light blue lines. You should be able to open up the red line that you cut at the beginning.

4. Flatten the diamond center by pushing the two ends inward. The pages will be double sided. It should look like this.

Please respect my efforts. You may use my free down loads with parents, and students on your caseloads and in your classrooms. Do not copy, post, or distribute them on other sites. Please do not use for commercial purposes. You may refer people to this blog to obtain their own personal copy.

Stay healthy everyone and practice social distancing. We will get through this by working together.

More Comprehension of Complex Sentence Cards

22 Jan

My Comprehension of Complex Sentence task cards are a popular item and I have received some requests for more. I created another set that are a little more difficult from the first. They are appropriate for upper elementary to middle school language learners. It is a great way to add 36 more cards and allow for pretest and post test. You can see if they do well with the 2nd deck after working with the first.

They are similar to the first deck. Target words are presented within the context of a short paragraph, three to five sentences in length. The paragraphs are a little longer than in set 1. A comprehension question is asked to target words that are often found in complex sentences. Words specifically targeted  include; neither/nor, either/or, instead, usually, unless, if/then, except, both, after, before, while, when, any, until, during, although, early, later,  first, last, between, and middle.

I am posting the first 9 task cards so you can test them out. Click on the star image below to get the trial cards. Let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement or if there are more words that should be added. I always appreciate your feed back. you can contact me by using the comment bubble by post heading. I read comments before they are posted to avoid spam, so don’t be concerned if you don’t see your comment immediately.

The full set can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers. It consists of 36 double sided cards. The right side folded under the left side provides an answer when the card is  flipped over. You can also separate the prompt from the answer card for some activities. They make good draw cards for student games.

Direct link to TPT

Paper Candy Cane Directions for Students

12 Dec

I know you are about ready for a break and busy finishing up those odds and ends. I thought I would help by providing a low prep project to keep a few students busy while others might be finishing up work. Click on the cover picture below and you will find a PDF file with step by step directions on making a paper candy cane.

click on image to follow link.

You can possibly download it for individual students on iPads or put it up on a overhead for all to see. Students love to see the way the stripes magically appear. They end up making several of them. They add some festivity on the end of a pencil.

Happy Holidays everyone and get rested for the New Year!

Follow Directions to Create a Leaf Turkey

17 Oct
Leaf Turkey

Creating turkeys from leaves was one of my all time favorite speech therapy activities. It was my type of project; easy to set up, materials were easily available and it appealed to multiple ages and abilities. I could address following directions and prepositional vocabulary such as below, above, center, before, and after. I could expand it for the older elementary by using science vocabulary and discussing why leaves change color, and drop.

A walk to look at Autumn colors and changes in the trees, is a good way to start this project. Children can’t resist picking up the different colors of leaves and wanting to do something with them. I found the colors and shapes of Maple leaves work the best for this project. Keep in mind that each student needs two leaves. Pick those that still have a long stem attached. It is always helpful to have extras for those that get broken before use.

I originally posted this activity 6 yrs ago, so it may look familiar. Many of you probably haven’t looked back that far to find it in my archives. I found it recently and decided with some updating it was worth reposting. The original was made with an app called Story Kit on my school iPad and was uploaded to the children’s library here. I have updated it to a pdf file to allow access on multiple types of devices. Click on the button for access.

Free Download
Free Download

I originally placed all the turkeys on a bulletin board with signs. This became an introduction to satire. I hope you have as much fun with this as I did.