Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Teaching Generalizations

Confessions: Teaching generalizations scares me. This is SUCH a hard concept to teach, right? Or maybe it's just me. 

I decided to find some good resources to help me and I ended up spending several hours on Monday (our day off!) working on my lesson. It wasn't all rainbows and unicorns, but I felt like my students really have a better understanding on identifying generalizations, what makes a statement a generalization, and how they add to the plot. Are we experts? Nope! But we're getting there! 

Here's how I taught the scary skill of generalizations. 

Like any lesson, I started off by making an anchor chart. I use this one from Deb Hanson as inspiration!
We HAVE NOT covered valid and faulty generalizations yet! My original plan was to cover this part of the concept this week, but I quickly saw that it would be too much info! 

We then focused on the definition of a generalizations. Many of my kids were unsure of what the term 'broad' meant, so I showed several examples of how the word meant covering a large area or wide range; nonspecific. I used the example of how the entire 5th grade class was a broad subject whereas one student was more specific. This seems to help. 
Then we started the powerpoint. I found this great Powerpoint Presentation from Deb (I just realized the chart AND the PP presentations was from the same person! I'm definitely loving Deb this week!)
The presentation came with this notes handout page, which we used.

Once we determined what it really meant when we said a generalization was a BROAD statement, we moved onto how it must be 2 things: logical and unproven. Again, some of my kids didn't understand the term 'logical', so I made up a "secret handshake" on the spot. We grabbed a partner and  clapped one hand and then the other while saying "Logical means" and then we clapped both hands twice while saying "it makes sense". They LOVED this! It made me think about using secret handshakes more often! #channelingmyinnerkookookangaroo

We started practicing with examples from the Powerpoint Presentation and with each example, the kids had to prove why it was a generalizations (In other words, they had to tell me why it was logical and unproven)

Next we moved onto the practice book page. My basal series is Reading Street, which I have a love/hate relationship with. The last two years, I've relied on JUST what the book provides for generalization practice. This year was the first time I pulled outside material and it was SO MUCH MORE SUCCESSFUL! It made this practice book so much easier and more meaningful. 

 The passage contained the generalization (thank goodness we didn't have to determine one on our own!), but it was included as part of a longer sentence. We determined what part was actually our generalization and what we needed to eliminate/add to it in order for the statement to makes sense.
Messy, I know! But it helped writing the sentence and eliminating the parts that weren't part of the generalization. 

Tomorrow, we are practicing some more using Rachel Lynette's task cards! I'm proud of how well the kids have listened and worked this week! Generalizations are enough to make anyone hate reading (sorry if you love this skill! Anyone out there??:) )

Do you have a great strategy for teaching generalizations? I'd love to hear them! 


  1. We also use reading street and this is by far my least favorite skill to teach! I hopped on Facebook to take a break from cutting out my generalization task cards on my couch and saw your Facebook post! I could not agree with what you are saying more, and plan to use some of your ideas. Also, maybe a gallery walk with pictures/header and have the students make either a valid or invalid generalization about that topic. I teach special education (in inclusion setting) so I also pull the 4th grade practice book pages and fresh reads to use as an extra resource when teaching this skill!

  2. I love Deb's PowerPoint presentations too! I used her one on cause and effect this week. She's amazing!!

  3. Oh my goodness! THANK YOU!! I was trying to catch up on reading blogs, and was so surprised when I ran across my name in your blog post!!! I'm so glad that the PowerPoint was useful! I must say, I like your anchor chart better than mine! :) Thank you again!!