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Enjoy this week's Educator Licensing TEACHER TIPS:

Games: Talk a Mile a Minute
Talk a Mile a Minute
"Play is our brain's favorite way of learning."
- Diane Ackerman

Explicit vocabulary instruction is vital for our students who are constantly struggling to comprehend text. In his book, Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement, Marzano outlines a six-step approach to vocabulary instruction.


Explain: Provide a student friendly definition or description of the word.

Restate: Students restate the definition in their own words.

Show: Students create a non-linguistic representation of the word.

Engage: Engage students in activities that add to their knowledge of the term.

Discuss: Involve students in structured vocabulary discussions.

Play: Promote playful activities that require the use of new vocabulary words.

See more information about Marzano's six-step approach.


Talk a Mile a Minute

Talk a Mile a Minute is a vocabulary game that gets kids talking and excited about using their new words and also supports Marzano's sixth step: PLAY!

  1. Arrange students in pairs or small groupsDesignate one person to be the "talker."
  2. Provide the talker with a list of words that all fall into one category (example: shapes- circle, square, trapezoid, hexagon)
  3. The talker "talks a mile a minute" describing the first word in the category. The talker may not use any words or variations of the words on the list.
  4. Once a word is correctly guessed, the talker moves to the next word and repeats the process.
  5. The round ends when all the words on the list have been guessed and the category has been identified.
  6. Once the round is over, a new talker is chosen and provided a new list of words.  



Take Talk a Mile a Minute a step further. Instead of giving students a list of vocabulary words, have them play the game with lists they've created on their own. In adding this step to the game, you are not only involving students in Marzano's sixth step, but in his fourth step, as well. By having students create their own lists, you are engaging them in activities that require them to investigate the relationship of their vocabulary words even further.


For more information:

Category card template

Marzano, Robert J. Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement. Hawker Brownlow Education, 2005.

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Nancy Jaeger
Director, Educator Licensing

Pam Rupert
Program Coordinator

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