The Concept Question Board Introduction
Many teachers, myself included, have struggled with integrating the Concept Question Board meaningfully into the Open Court Curriculum. Even those who have beautiful looking Concept Question Boards often put it up on the first day of the unit and leave it there as the best wallpaper you have ever seen.
Here are some tips I have discovered in making the Concept Question Board a living breathing entity to compliment my teaching of the Open Court units.
1. Involve parents. Solicit artifacts.
Simply asking students to bring in artifacts is not enough. You need to communicate information to parents in writing about your unit and asking for students to bring in artifacts. There are parent letters in the OCR Home-School Connection manual but I have found these to be too wordy for my parents many of whom are learning English themselves. Make your letter visual so it stands out; include a picture related to the unit.
For second grade I wrote parent letters for almost all of the units explaining briefly:
- what the unit is
- what the unit is about (do not assume parents know)
- suggestions of artifacts to bring in
Here’s a sample letter for Fossils unit.
Allow students to think outside the box. Students may bring in things that do not seem to relate to the unit but with your assistance can find ways of relating those items to the theme. If students have nothing I allow them to draw a picture of an artifact they’d like to bring in so it is expected that everyone brings in something.
2. Use the Concept Question Board for Oral Language Development
If you just put it on the wall without talking about it you are missing terrific opportunities for oral language development. I have my students share what they have brought with the class, relating it to the theme, then allowing the class to ask two questions of the person sharing, again giving students an opportunity to practice questioning. A template on the wall for how to speak about your artifact helps English Language Learners to speak successfully about their artifacts (see photo above).
3. Write About It
Using the same linguistic frame (seen above) all students can write about their item with success. For some students, I assign a partner to assist them with their writing. I have students write about their objects first thing in the morning, while we are wrapping up morning business and other students are sharing. If they do not finish in those five or so minutes they finish their writing during Independent Work Time.
4. Contribute your own artifacts.
If you expect students to come up with artifacts to fit the theme you need to have some of your own. Sometimes this is harder than you think. Don’t just stick it up on the wall, model for your students how you share the artifact and write about it in the way you want students to.
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Sample Concept Question Boards:
above sample from Mr. Needleman’s 2nd Grade Classroom
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