Dictation in the Multilevel Classroom

Sarah Lynn

Sarah Lynn

Dictation is a versatile learning activity. Here are a few ways my colleague John Antonellis and I use it in our classrooms.

A Phonemic Approach

  1. Students start the dictation exercise with pencils down.

    The teacher says a sentence in natural speech and students orally repeat the sentence.

  2. The teacher asks: How many words are there? Students and teacher repeat the sentence until someone calls out the correct number of words.
  3. Students pick up their pencils and write the sentence. The teacher repeats the sentence in natural speech as many times as needed.
  4. After students check their work, they work in pairs reading the sentences aloud in as fluently as possible.

A Multilevel Approach for a Literacy Class

As students transcribe the words, the teacher provides a printed version of the dictated text on a large piece of paper in the back of the room. Students are encouraged to be as independent from the “cheat sheet” as possible.

  • The lowest-level students frequently turn to read the text as they copy it word by word.
  • The middle-level students write a little, turn to read the text once or twice, continue writing, and then turn to check their work carefully.
  • The advanced students write first and then turn to check their work.

(Note: If you frequently leave answers available to students in the classroom, most students quickly realize that it is much more satisfying to test their abilities and not copy. This classroom practice also models how to use answer keys responsibly in independent study at home.)

A Multilevel Approach for Low and Intermediate Levels (created by John Antonellis)

  1. The teacher dictates key words one at a time. Students write the words and then check their work.
  2. The teacher dictates sentences with the key words. Students orally repeat the sentences and write the number of words they hear.
  3. Students write the sentence referring to the key word list as needed.

(Note: John has posted the handout for this variation in the Teacher2Teacher blog.)

Visit my blog to share your dictation ideas and see more ideas for using dictation in your classroom: http://teachertwoteacher.wordpress.com/.

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