This is another new set of learning webcasts for me. Today, I learned more about the Genius Ladder and Oral Writing. (I think I am most excited about the proofreading within the Genius Ladder section! Why didn't I think of that?)
What is the Genius Ladder?
The Genius Ladder is a technique used to get students to write complex topic sentences and tightly focused paragraphs. Let's begin with how the ladder works. On the bottom rung are the words "blah sentence," the next rung "spicy sentence," the next "extender sentence," and finally the top rung "genius paragraph."
Write a simple sentence next to the bla rung on the ladder. (Typically an article, noun, verb.) For example, The boy sits. Erase the noun and replace it with a blank. Have students replace the noun in the sentence. We want students to see the power and flexibility of our language.
As we move up the next rung, we begin to add some spice to the sentence. For example, The wimpy boy sits. Erase the adjective and have students add their own word. Now, we want to add the extender. All we are doing here is adding additional words. For example, The wimpy boy sits because he is tired. This sentence now becomes the topic sentence for a paragraph.
Two kinds of proofreading are also taken into consideration with this strategy.
1. Red/Green Dot Checking: Write one feature of what you will be checking on the board. In first grade, this might be spacing in between words. As you walk around the room, place a red mark next to bad spacing and a green mark by good spacing. Make sure each student has one mark of each color on his or her paper. This makes differentiated proof reading! That is awesome!
Students get a proof reading list. When a student gets a red dot for something, they put a tally mark on their proof reading sheet. It will let you know at a glance what students will need extra support with.
2. Paperclip Proofreading: When it is time for students to proofread on their own, give them a paperclip. It should be clipped onto their proofreading list. Go down the list with students. Students tap the item in their writing that the paperclip is pointing to. Once they have done that, move on to the next item on the list.
Tell me more about Oral Writing!
Oral writing helps make writing easier by teaching students to talk how we want them to write. Here are some steps I will use to make this work in my first grade classroom.
1. Teach students that every question you ask must be answered with a complete sentence. Consistently. If a student doesn't answer in a complete sentence, use a prompt. Place your hand behind your ear and say, "I didn't hear your complete sentence."
2. Teach students to add a detailed sentence to their sentence. The oral prompt is "give me more." Place your pointer fingers together and move them around in a circle."
3. Teach students to add a conclusion. The cue is to wave one hand above the other like you are saying "safe" to a baseball play. Teach them to say things like "in conclusion," or "to sum up."
4. Teach students "air punctuation" to punctuate their sentences. For example, for a period, make a sound like a car breaking. EErrr! "When you make it physical, you make it visual." Coach B.
5. To show a capital letter, put one hand on top of the other. Move the top hand up toward the ceiling to represent the letter getting bigger.
To boost the critical thinking aspect with students, have them clap every time they say "because" to push students more. Whatever you want in writing, think up a gesture for it and have kids practice it. It helps retrain the brain! Oral writing is a great pre-writing exercise as well. The possibilities are endless!