Review and recycling of new language items is critical if they stand a chance of becoming readily accessible in long-term memory.

I would like to share here an activity I have found useful when revising vocabulary with my primary school young learners: Headlines.
 
Headlines is a thinking routine from the Visible Thinking approach (Harvard University). The basic idea is to help students capture the essence of a topic being studied. It can also involve them in reflecting and synthesizing as they identify this essence. The routine works well at the end of a topic after students have explored it and gathered a fair amount of both new lexical items as well as new information or opinions about it. It draws on the idea of newspaper-type headlines as a vehicle for summing up and capturing the essence of a topic.
 
1. Ask students to:
 
Write a headline for this topic that summarizes and captures a key aspect that they feel significant and important.
 
Students can work individually, in pairs or in groups depending on how you best see fit. Their responses can first be written down and recorded.
 
2. Share the thinking and ideas
 
Ask students to share their headlines with their classmates. Let them expand on them creatively and document their ideas on classroom walls if you can so that a class list of headlines is created, a forum of ideas for everyone to look at, reflect upon and revise daily.
 
3. Catchy slogans or deeper thinking?
 
An important aspect of this routine as it is intended by the Visible Thinking approach is to foster students' thinking towards ideas that are at the heart of a topic being studied. In the ELT context this may not always be feasible taking into consideration language level restraints. Do try, however, especially if you work with more advanced learners to have students share not only their headlines, but also the story and reasoning behind their choice. With younger learners this may not always be possible, but still they will have the chance to recycle vocabulary in an interesting and creative way.
 
I recently used the routine with my 6th grade pre-intermediate/intermediate mixed ability group with the topic of friendship. Students chose headlines using vocabulary we had dealt with during that topic: empathy, opinion, perspective, honest, loyal, mock, be jealous of, abandon, show respect, selfish, kindness, racism, bullying, judge, care about, fake, encourage, trust, support.
 
They also came up with interesting ideas and sentences like:
 
There is no room for racism in friendship.
 
Friend with his own opinion, friendship with perspective.
 
I'd rather have no friends than fake friends.
 
True friendship is all about being yourself.
 
Empathy: a step closer to true friendship.
 
You can have a look at all their headlines here.
 

 

You might also like to have a look at how students responded to the same routine on the topic of bullying here.
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