Tic-Tac-Toe for Content Discussion


On Wednesday, I tried this activity with the 5th and 6th grade gifted science class I was subbing for. The teacher asked me if there was any teaching activity I wanted to try with them, especially one that lent itself more to science or history content that I hadn’t been able to use in my Language Arts classroom.

I wrote down a list of key terms from the chapter on gravity and motion on the board (e.g., free fall, gravity, acceleration, mass, air resistance, friction) With older students, especially in a history class, you could have them find the words or phrases themselves. Then they made a tic-tac-toe grid on poster paper and wrote one term in each space. After that we numbered each space and they were to write one sentence that contained 3 terms in a row, either down, across, or diagonal. I actually mapped out the rows and we labeled them A-F. The kids had a good time working out their ideas about each term, sometimes realizing their misconceptions about them, and trying to write a sentence that used them correctly. When they were done, each group presented two of their “harder” sentences. An example: “Aristotle thought that two falling objects of different masses would hit the ground at the same time, but he was wrong.”

I think this is a great activity after students have read content to have them grapple with the ideas and discuss them in a small group. I learned this in a conference session at my university and we tried it with history content. Not sure how I could use this in an English class, but you may be able to adapt it to the plot of a short story or terms of fiction.

Using Humor: Vocabulary in Context

When teaching vocabulary out of context, try using quotes from The Onion as contextual examples. Here’s some from a recent mini-lesson I had to do in my clinical fieldwork:

From The Onion article “Kobayashi Retires from Eating”: Although Kobayashi’s friends are happy for him, they have expressed concern for his well-being, claiming that he has appeared <span style=”font-weight:bold;”>listless</span>, depressed, and seems to be wasting away since his retirement. Some think that the decision to give up eating may even have long-term effects on Kobayashi’s health.

From The Onion article “Congress Wonders If It’s Even Making a Difference Anymore”: With their second session well underway, members of the 106th U.S. Congress have fallen into a deep emotional <span style=”font-weight:bold;”>malaise</span>, openly questioning their effectiveness and ultimate usefulness to the nation. “I dunno,” U.S. Rep. Charles Stenholm (D-TX) said. “What’s the point? Why make all these new laws, when the ones we’ve already passed haven’t made a bit of difference?”

“We’re confident that satellite technology will one day unlock some of the universe’s oldest and most baffling secrets, such as how Gwyneth Paltrow juggles two kids and a thriving film career, yet still manages to look fresh and <span style=”font-weight:bold;”>luminous</span> in her Estée Lauder ads.”  –from The Onion article “47% of Satellites Currently Monitoring Celebrity Parenting”

From the Onion article “National Poetry Month Raises Awareness of Poetry Prevention”: “We must stop this scourge before more lives are exposed to poetry,” said Dr. John Nieman of the American Poetry Prevention Society…Young people, particularly <span style=”font-weight:bold;”>morose</span> high-school and college students, are very susceptible to this terrible affliction. It is imperative that we eradicate poetry now.