The task of answering “How” questions is often difficult for students. Students who have language delays, autism, or are second languages learners often have trouble answering with the correct information. The answers are often not as predictable as other question forms.
“How” questions are especially important in upper elementary grade levels and beyond. Many programs are science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) oriented. Students are required to integrate their knowledge and figure out how it all works together. It requires a higher level of thinking and language skills to figure out what information is being asked for to answer a question. Students often need the ability to problem solve or take on another perspective to answer a question correctly.
In case you haven’t recently thought about the variety of “How” questions we use in our daily lives, following is a refresher list of examples and the types of expected answers.
How questions that ask for amount: How much is it? It is one dollar
How questions that ask for a quality: How does it taste? It tastes sour.
How questions that ask about a condition: How cold is it? Very cold
How questions that require a procedural answer. How do you get toothpaste from a tube?You take the cover off and squeeze the tube.
I created a set of task cards to work specifically on comprehending and answering “How” questions. They were created to help students become aware of the different varieties of “How” questions they may encounter and what information they need to answer them. I am providing a free preview that you may print out and make two sided task cards to try with your students. If they work for you, I have the full set of 22 cards on Teachers Pay Teachers which you can purchase.
The TPT set is also available for printing out or with the TPT overlay. The over lay creates a digital resource a teacher can download for Google classroom. As a teacher, you can assign it to students on your class list. They can use writing tools and answer blocks to complete an assignment before submitting it back to a teacher.
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 and copying definitions. Often the words in the definition were hard to relate too, so it became a copying task with little benefit to learning the definitions. Education theory has moved on to promoting meta linguistic awareness. Developing meta linguistic awareness can be especially beneficial when developing vocabulary. Research has revealed that promoting higher level thinking skills increases retention of information and allows students to integrate what they have learned.
For those of you who may need a refresher; Meta linguistic 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 the knock knock jokes and riddles young children attempt to tell around 6 yrs. of age. They often lack the punch line because they don’t grasp 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 meta linguistic awareness.
Studies have found that reading comprehension and meta linguistic skills are strongly linked (Achugar, Schleppegrell, & Oteíza, 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. Although they were great sight readers in the early grades , they often faltered in the later elementary years. They could read the words individually but had difficulty comprehending within the text. As the paragraphs and sentence structure became more complex there were often hidden meanings. Things like double meaning words, satire, and unusual phrasing tripped them up. Students exhibited difficulties with meta linguistic development could not adapt to the word meaning changes that occurred within context.
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 within the context. It is more than reading a string of words. The word meaning they memorized 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 activities using meta linguistics tasks, go to the top navigation heading and click on the section labeled Vocabulary. Making word association is a great task for encouraging meta linguist skills. There is a good sampling of cards for download in that section. There are free previews so that you can try some of them out with your students. You can get a pretty good tool box by just downloading all the previews and free cards. Click on the star for a free preview and download of the Word Association Bundle. Click on the blue print for a direct link to TPT. The cards on TPT are available with the digital down load overlays and self checking with bar codes that work with the task cards or digitally.
Finding what is wrong with Silly Sentences is another 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 constantly with false facts in social media. There are several sets of those for free downloads 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.
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.
The In Spontaneous Speech blog is in the process of much needed reconstruction and updating. The adventure started when I recently updated the Social Skills products on my Teachers Pay Teachers Site. This resulted in the free sample products not matching here on the site and needing updating. Of course it then became a cascading effect of changes, some external and some internal. However, I think you will like the changes. I will move on to the other headings later on, and I will keep you updated. Please read on to discover the changes.
First I updated the free product samples on the Social Skills Page, and they are ready for downloading. I started with the Social Skills Page since many of those cards were the oldest and seemed the most outdated. I used new clip art and added additional cards to some of these products.
When you have a chance, download the new free samples and replace your older ones. You can check out the new free samples by clicking on Social Skills on the index strip at the top and following the page down. You will notice the new buttons.
I switched the down load storage site so it should be easier to do downloads. In the past you may have encountered a two step process to get to the down load and sometimes may have received a message that the site had reached its maximum downloads. This was another complicating factor of the old infrastructure. When I started many years ago, I used Keep & Share, Photobucket, and a few other places as data storage sites. I had links going to 3 or more places and some of those places have since added restrictions. It made it difficult to figure out where problems were occurring if something stopped working. It became quite an undertaking to keep the links going.
Thank you for your product support because you have kept this site going and helped with the improvements since it’s conception. Very little is free in life so I am sure you aware that this site costs a bit to operate. The product sales have allowed me to get to a self hosted site with download capability within the site. This alleviated the need for multiple storage sites and all those links. I have been switching the links as I get to them.
This adventure also started because I started to cringe at some of the cards from those older sets. My clip art was less than stellar. Originally, I made them for my use and didn’t have time for frill. Now I have more time to explore digital art which was another interest of mine.
When I first started making task cards, I didn’t have experience with digital art or drawing tools you use on computers. I began drawing my own clipart because I couldn’t always find the clip art I was looking for. I wanted figures that were relevant to the content of the card and not the same figures everyone else was using. I didn’t want the clip art to depict very young children, because I know some of the students using my cards might be older than average for a grade. I knew older children may get put off by clip art that appears to depict young children. I also needed some very specific actions and objects.
Within the last year, I have acquired a notepad and stylet. I have been making digital art using the free app, Auto Desk Sketchbook. After trying other programs, this one seems to make the most sense to me. I love drawing without buying all those supplies that go with it. I discovered how to use layers, which allows you to revise drawings multiple times without having to start over, which is a real plus for me.
Before I close, a reminder to those who have purchased the full card sets on Teachers Pay Teachers, you will be able to download the updated versions free by just getting another download on the TPT site. They are all listed under the original titles. The card sets in the Social Skills Communication Bundle are all included in the update and can also be purchased separately. To get to the TPT site, click on the picture below.
I am ending this post using the thought process of Bad Thing and Good Thing. Bad Thing: Updating is a real headache and overwhelming after 7 years of building a foundation on trial and error. Good thing: Hosting a Blog has been a great hobby and learning experience. There was something cathartic about writing it all down. It gave me a boost and support at work when I forgot materials going between multiple work sites. I could bring up what I needed on a lap top or iPad. It was a great creative outlet. Finally, it forced me to look at my data files and create a better filing system.
With any such endeavors, there are a lot of chances for errors. Please let me know if there are errors on products so I can make corrections. It seems like a few always slip through. Constructive suggestions are always welcome.
Happy New Year! I hope you get off to a good start for the rest of your school year in 2019. I’m starting out the year with new vocabulary task cards. These cards are similar to the ones I made a couple of years ago using 4th grade vocabulary lists. This time I used Tier II Vocabulary lists from the 5th and 6th grade levels. I used as many words as I could that made sense within the context of the paragraphs I wrote. If you make it to the bottom of this post there is a free trial set.
They can also be used with older students who need supplemental help with vocabulary development. They do not have pictures that older students would find childish or refer to grade levels on the cards. There is a vocabulary list included for instructor reference.
Core State Standards put a strong emphasis on vocabulary words that occur frequently in academic text. These are referred to as Tier II Vocabulary. Students come across these words when reading Science, Social Studies and English text so not knowing them can make reading and understanding academic text difficult.
I am always trying to figure out how I can make the biggest impact on my students in the classroom and I think concentrating on vocabulary at the later elementary to middle school level can make a big difference with their comprehension. These cards use the words within short paragraphs so they address comprehension within text as well as giving context clues toward the word meanings.
I am going to give you a chance to try them out with a trial deck of 10 cards. If they work for you, you might want to consider buying the full set on Teachers-Pay-Teachers.
The full set has 2 sets of 16 sheets for a total of 32 sheetsof task cards. There are a total of 120 vocabulary words presented on the cards. Set 2 is a duplicate of set 1 with the following differences. Set 1 has the answers on the right half but they are scrambled and the student will need to find the correct answers from the list. These are marked with Find the Answer. Set 2 has the correct answers provided on the right half and is marked as Answers.
The cards are placed on the sheets so you can choose to make double backed cards. For example card two (vocabulary meanings), folded to the back, would make a good backing for the card containing the (text).
You could also cut right half off and make a double backed card with the card containing (text) and the comprehension questions folded up to make the other side. You could keep all of them together and fold right half back to provide word meanings and answers to the comprehension questions on the back side.
Set 1 with the mixed answers will require a student’s thought process to get an answer. Set 2 provides answers for a flip side if you choose to make the cards part of a learning center and self checking. By making both sets I can differentiate the instruction for different needs and methods of instruction.
I am going to give you a chance to try them out with a trial deck of 10 cards. I hope this helps with your return lesson planning. Just click on the colored lettering below.