PBL and Vocabulary

This week we began a three week unit on persuasive writing with a 5th grade class. Our focus is on creating arguments for or against having tire chips on our playground. Creating opportunities for students to do authentic research is a piece that we needed to focus on, especially with the numerous amounts of vocabulary that students will encounter. How can students access some of these scientifically dense articles, along with finding information that will help support their claim?

Enter the wonderfully diverse tool, Immersive Reader. This tool has proved to be an integral part to our project allowing students to access vocabulary at much higher levels than possible before. We can have conversations about the chemicals in tire chips, what cost effectiveness means, how tires impact the water quality, and more. The beauty of using the immersive reader comes from students getting the chance to listen and follow along with articles that will help them to structure their arguments. Students have the chance to build that evidence, but also know how to pronounce specific content words that will help support them when they are orally communicating their arguments. Students have expressed how grateful they are for this tool and it really makes an impact for our whole class conversations.

Think about all the times you might be reading a scientific article and are unsure of how to pronounce a word or phrase. You think you might know, but then when it comes time to communicate your argument, you shy away from those words because they are unfamiliar. Students are already showing huge gains in their vocabulary, using words they’ve listened to in our class conversations. We want students to know that they are supported when completing authentic work and the immersive reader provides one of those supports. Any student can access the text and any student can begin to communicate as if they are an expert.

Three weeks from now we will be working on our final claims and I know that students will be giving arguments with much higher vocabulary than when they started this project. Not only are we focused on providing claims for or against tire chips on the playground, but we are also focused on developing high vocabulary conversations with students. We recorded our first claims using Flipgrid to track how our claims change over time and also to see how new vocabulary filters in.

Check back in a few weeks from now to read and hear about what students think about tire chips and listen in for some high content vocabulary.

How do you help develop vocabulary in students when accessing scientific texts? Take a moment and check out the immersive reader, create a word document, share it with students, create a qr code, and post it in the class. Students have a resource that will never leave, a resource that builds vocabulary and confidence.


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