Teachers Helping Teachers - Kelden Formosa, ACE 22
Kelden Formosa, a graduate of the 22nd Cohort of ACE Teaching Fellows, returned to his home country of Canada upon finishing his time in the program. He now teaches 5th grade at Immaculate Conception in Vancouver.
In the second segment of ACE Advocates’ Teachers Helping Teachers series, Kelden discusses his Word of the Day routine. As the name suggests, Kelden incorporates this into his classroom every morning to ensure that students go home each day having learned at least one new vocabulary word. This activity takes place in three main phases: the teaching phase, the practicing phase, and the assessment phase.
To begin his lesson, Kelden has students echo the pronunciation and definition of the day’s word. Generally, he tries to select a word that they will encounter in some way throughout the course of that particular day. In the lesson above, his students are learning the verb, “allude” and the noun, “allusion” because the text they are reading has many examples of this literary device. A key procedure that Kelden employs in this portion of the lesson includes an “echo on” and “echo off” call, which informs students when they should be repeating what he is saying. Kelden then moves into various examples of how to use the word. He modulates the length of time spent and the degree of scaffolding depending on the difficulty of the word.
After he has spent time in direct instruction, Kelden gives his students the opportunity to practice this word on their own. On a day with a difficult word, he might construct two or three short independent practice exercises so that students have several attempts to utilize the word. He informally assesses how students are handling the word by discussing the group work as a whole class. Another piece in Kelden’s Word of the Day is that he continues to use the word throughout the day as a way to begin and close activities. For example, the signal for students to move into groups is when he says the word, “allude” or “allusion.” He concludes the practicing portion of the Word of the Day by asking students to write down the word and its definition in their agenda books to practice at home.
As with the practicing phase, Kelden interweaves several layers of assessment into his Word of the Day routine. Throughout the practice examples, he informally assesses how students are grasping the material through class discussion. Kelden receives a more illustrative metric of student mastery at the end of the day when each student constructs an original sentence on a sticky note. From this, Kelden can see which students might need more practice and which students have successfully mastered the word. Every week, he compiles the words into a formative assessment in which students choose which words make the most sense in sample sentences. Kelden also builds these words into a more comprehensive formative assessment at the end of a 28-day period.