Today I want to tell you all about the Genius Ladder.
It is used to develop student speaking and writing skills. We play it for 15 minutes every day after lunch. It involves creatively uses nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prepositions while writing complex topic sentences and tightly focused paragraphs.
It starts out with a blah sentence. A blah sentence consists of an article noun verb. Very simple and very blah. Students take turns replacing the verb in the sentence as many times as they can. Students then take turns replacing the noun in the sentence as many times as they can.
After the blah sentence we move on to the spicy sentence. A spicy sentence consists of an article adjective noun verb. Students take turns replacing the adjective in the sentence as many times as they can.
The next level is the extender sentence. An extender sentence consists of an article adjective noun verb extender. It is important for students to understand that an extender is a phrase that adds important information to the story. Students take turns replacing the extender in the sentence as many times as they can.
Move on to the next level when ready (I have not done this level with my students yet; we are focusing on the previous levels for a while before adding this in. The next levels are the Genius Sentence and the Genius Paragraph. Students take the sentence created by adding the extender and add adders on to it. Adders must be about the target word which is the noun in the sentence. They must support the key noun in the topic sentence. At this point students should transition from speaking to writing. They should practice writing as many genius paragraphs as they can in a time limit (ten minutes is a good time frame). Each paragraph should contain the topic sentence and at least two adder sentences. After the time limit you should show some examples. The students should also have the opportunity to share their examples if they would like to.
Students will improve tremendously in their writing the more they work through the Genius Ladder. On the Whole Brain Teaching website they have free ebooks. One of the ebooks is a Genius Ladder document. It contains over 500 slides with examples of each rung of the genius ladder. It is broken down into three levels (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced) and it gets harder as you go.
My students absolutely love the Genius Ladder. They beg for more and cheer every time I tell them we are going to play.