Sunday, October 23, 2011
Genuis Ladder and What I learned
I started the Genius Ladder in my resource room reading and writing classes (5th, 7th, and 8th graders) this past week. I went great. The kids loved the idea of "bringing nothing but their voices and ideas". We started with a blah sentence and moved right up to a full paragraph with several adders within twenty minutes of brainstorming. An unintended consequence of the Genius ladder was as the kids were brainstorming adjectives I realized many of them had limited vocabularies when it came to coming up with interesting or different describing words. This gave me an opportunity to discuss different words they could use other than obvious ones. for example, if they were describing a dog, they might come up with "little" dog or "mean" dog. I would suggest "tiny" or "vicious" dog as alternatives to their suggestions and add to their own vocabulary. When they had brainstormed a number of adjective, I allowed them to choose the one they wanted to insert in the sentence. It also gave me an opportunity to work on "adder" sentences. Typically, any of my students who struggle with writing have a difficult time adding details to their paragraphs. They seemed to better understand what they were to do when I used the term "adder" versus "detail sentence". It also gave me a chance to find out how much background knowledge they had regarding the topic or subject of our paragraph. The exercise went very well and they seemed pleased with the paragraph they ended up with. All in all, it went well and I cannot wait to continue to teach writing using the Genius Ladder. My advice is look for unintended opportunities to assist your students in areas of writing they struggle with that you may not have been aware of or may have taken for granted that they knew.