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Vocabulary Instruction in the Classroom
Check out this new article on vocabulary instruction:
10 Ways to Use Technology to Build Vocabulary.pdf
Don't forget to check out the online resources at the bottom of this page.
"By the time a student reaches high school, they possess almost a million words in his/her vocabulary; struggling readers may only possess 100,000 words.
" (Nagy & Anderson, 1984)
Karen Tankersley (2005) has identified three strategies for effective vocabulary development in grades four through twelve.
"Promoting broad and intensive reading and oral discussions,
Encouraging students to experiment with words, and
Explicitly teaching word meanings and word-learning strategies."
Through the promotion of intensive reading/oral discussions, students have an opportunity to engage in stimulating conversations on a regular basis. Recommended literacy practices include:
Graphic organizers/concept maps
will allow students to see the connections of new vocabulary and provide memory cues.
Another great practice is the use of
. Students may organize these alphabetically or topically. Students should record any interesting words, interpretations, pictures and definitions. This is an excellent strategy that allows students to leave your class with an entire volume of new vocabulary terms; this also shows growth over the year and encourages student participation in the process.
Triple entry journal
templates could be used to document new vocabulary terms and inserted in to a three-ring binder/dictionary.
begin with a root word at the bottom and allow students to fill in the branches with words that stem from the root.
can be utilized to build "memory links" to terms, such as my-dear-aunt-sally in mathematics or every-good-boy-does-fine in music.
give students the opportunity to sort terms into categories of words. This serves as an excellent building activity where students may work individually or in small groups prior to a class discussion.
New to me
encourages students to find a predetermined number of words that are new or unknown words. Students are then asked to provide a best definition and discuss with two classmates to see if the definition was close or not. These terms can become the basis of a bulletin board or word wall.
assign a single term that has many synonyms to a team of students and see how many they can record in a set amount of time.
may be used for students to note unknown words as they read or may be pre-printed with meaning terms that students need to know.
Share a word
invites students to bring a word to class, discuss where they found it and why it is meaningful. This activity can lead to great discussions and serve as a spring board for several great activities.
Looking for a way to encourage students to experiment with words, try
designed to pique curiosity and be fun.
Act It Out
is a fun way for students to "act out" or pantomime word meanings to the rest of the class. These representations serve as excellent memory clues for students.
Be the Author
asks students to read picture books, observe styles and create similar unique stories.
of key terms can be created easily online and exchanged between students.
allows students to visually define words in a creative way. For example, writing the word wavy in wavy letters.
is formatted like a spelling bee, but with definitions that become more difficult as the bee progresses.
Round Robin Word
is an activity that allows the teacher to select a common word and challenges students to provide synonyms. If the student doesn't furnish a term, he/she are out. Repeat until only student remains.
gives students an opportunity to work in teams and identify words that are spelled the same forwards and backwards, such as kayak.
is always a wonderful fun option that can be customized to any subject and unit.
Which Term Doesn't Belong
provides students with a cluster of words (four or five) and requires them to select the term that doesn't belong.
divides the class into two teams with two coming to the front of the room. A term is written down and shown to a student from each team without the front participants seeing it. A second team member take turns stating one-word clues to the front participant until the round is won. Four new participants come to the front of the room for the next round.
She Did What? Revising for Connotation (A ReadWriteThink Lesson)
is another team activity where students write down as many words (in the declared category) as possible in the given time period. Teachers select a category and time frame. Category examples are sports words, items that are yellow, fruits that begin with A, et cetera.
Significant studies have proven that the old method of assign, define and test are inadequate for classroom vocabulary development (Allen, 1999; Baumann & Kameenui, 1991; Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002). It is critical, however, that the students are able to attach prior knowledge to words and the vocabulary should be actively embraced in the classroom. Here are a few good ideas that
encourage students to interact and internalize new vocabulary
. Please see me for any additional ideas, of which there are many.
with these headings (term, what it means to me, what it means in __ (subject area)). This strategy identifies the multiple meanings word hold and distinguishes the appropriate meaning for your class.
places students in teams to generate a list of words that begin with prefixes. Teams must be able to demonstrate the difference between words that begin with prefixes or simply terms that begin with those letters.
Triple entry journals
provide an opportunity to illustrate the term, as well as define.
Shades of meaning is a nice tool for discussing connotations of related words. Students may rate from nicest to harshest and provide rationale. (e.g. overweight, plump, fat, obese)
are wonderful creations, but you must be vigilant in checking to make sure students are writing their own definitions and not merely copying them from a source.
challenge students/partners/teams to connect and categorize vocabulary. This is a nice springboard for classroom discussion.
lends itself to vocabulary development. I recommend four quadrants for definition, characteristics, examples and non-examples with the word written in the center of the rectangle.
requires students to identify foreign words borrowed by our language. Words tare then compared and contrasted to native meanings. This also makes a great bulletin board/word wall.
Be the Teacher
and give students the opportunity to shine. Teachers provide a list of 10-15 new words and take a seat. Partners examine words, discuss meanings and write short definitions and examples.
Word meanings web
illustrate the multiple meanings behind common terms.
Games for Step Six of Marzano's Academic Vocabulary Plan
Name That Category
TALK A MILE A MINUTE VOCABULARY GAME.docx
What is the Question?
is the Question?
The Academic Word List
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
Visuword Online Graphical Dictionary
Teacher Training Video for Word Sift
Templates & Lesson Planning Tools
Templates from Jan Allen's Inside Words
LESSON PLANNING- PREPARING CONTENT AREA ACTIVITIES.doc
Classroom Observation- Improving Vocabulary Instruction.doc
Marzano Vocabulary 6-steps.pdf
Sample Academic Vocabulary Plan.doc
Presentations & Webinars
Doing What Works Resources - Explicit Vocabulary Instruction in MS/HS
Explicit Vocab Recommendation.ppt
Making the Most of Vocabulary Instruction- 2010 Dept. of Ed. Presentation.pdf
Making the Vocabulary Connection in Middle Schools-Keith Pruitt.ppt
Marzano-Building Academic Vocabulary.ppt
Academic Vocabulary Programs (complete with lesson plans)
help on how to format text
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