teaching vocabulary: four sure-fire ways

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Teaching Vocabulary: Four Sure-Fire Ways. First, Get Selective. Students cannot and will not learn 10, 15, or 20 vocabulary words that you give them on a sheet of paper. And you cant teach that many words and get anything else done. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Teaching Vocabulary

Teaching Vocabulary: Four Sure-Fire WaysFirst, Get SelectiveStudents cannot and will not learn 10, 15, or 20 vocabulary words that you give them on a sheet of paper.And you cant teach that many words and get anything else done.Instead, do triage: Choose the 4-5 most critical words over several days of reading/discussion and teach those. These words are keepers. What Makes a Keeper?It has to be a word you can use again and again.It has to be a word that is big and juicy and that kids dont know.It has to be a word that kids can use that will make them feel smart.WARNING!DO NOT choose words that students already know or think they knowFor example, acid or harmonyYou may think these are good words to discuss with your class and youre right; but these are NOT vocabulary.If you choose easy words students already know, they wont pay attention and theyll be insulted or think youre an idiot.Here is a Word Wall Full of Keepers:

2. Select Words One of Two WaysYou choose the words yourself before reading (4 or 5-NO MORE!!!)Students choose the words themselvesNO KIDDING!!Four Sure-Fire Ways to Teach Vocabulary:Word Walls!Vocabulary Self-Selection (VSS)!Concept Attainment!Beat the Dictionary!1. Word Walls Are Your Best Friend as a TeacherA Word Wall is a bulletin board in your classroom that you start at the beginning of the year and add words to all year long.The words are all KEEPERS.The words are big and juicy and represent new and important concepts learned in your curriculum.These words are the words that you will return to again and again throughout the year. YES!! YES!!! To teach vocabulary, you need to constantly and recursively remind students of these words. This is the hardest part of vocabulary instruction but its essential and the most powerful thing you can do.Revisit Your Word Wall Words FrequentlyMake a point of using new words DAILY.Revisit old words several times a week.This is HARD because the tendency is to put things up and forget about them.DONT FORGET!Practice ActivitiesWord Rallies (See hand-out)Treasure Hunt word finds (See hand-out)Games, recognition to students for using vocabulary in speech and writing.Give EXTRA CREDIT for using vocabulary words in writing assignments. Leave Your Word Wall up All YearKeep adding to the Word Wall. Dont take it down ALL YEAR.If you do this, youll see huge improvements in:Reading comprehensionWriting qualityStudents attitudes about themselves as studentsStudents attitudes about vocabulary.2. Vocabulary Self-Selection (VSS)After reading, place students in groups of 3-4Either assign the class the whole reading passage or break it up into sections, one per group (depending on how long the passage was).Tell each group to select one vocabulary word (and one alternate) they want the class to put on the Word Wall. The students must then present the word to the class and make an argument for why this word should be included.You as the teacher also select a word and make an argument to model the process for students.The class votes on each word.VSS Works Wonders. Why?It empowers studentsIt requires students to reread and review a passage after theyve read (And rereading is powerful and important learning strategy!)Its engaging and students will remember words they suggest much better than words you give them.It requires students to study the word and make an argument for why its importantthis requires discussion, processing of ideas, and real scholarship.3. Concept AttainmentThis is a strategy used to introduce vocabulary words and concepts that you have selected, usually before reading a passage.The activity is engaging because it works like a guessing game.You select a word and think of examples and non-examples of the word.You present each example/non-example as a pair.Over a series of pairs, you engage students in a discussion of the characteristics of each pair.Finally, you provide the word.Concept Attainment words because it models the way that we conceptualize and identify individual things in the worldby comparing and contrasting them to other things.Lets look at an example of Concept AttainmentThis is an example:

This is NOT an example:

This is an example:

This is NOT an example:

This is an example:

This is NOT an example:

This is an example:

This is NOT an example:

This is an example:

This is NOT an example:

One of the best ways to use Concept Attainment is to give groups of students different vocabulary words and have them come up with examples and non-examples to present to the class.4. Beat the Dictionary!This is a great strategy if youre reading a text with students and you come to a word that no one knows. In this strategy, you challenge the students to come up with a definition of the word based on the context of its use and other clues (like roots and affixes) before another student (who is given a big fat dictionaryNO computers on this one!) can look it up.You entertain definitions as the student is thumbing through the dictionary and then compare the classs definition with the one in the dictionary.Beat the Dictionary is a very engaging game to play with students. It challenges them to use context clues and what they know about the etymology of words and it MAKES STUDENTS FEEL SMART.This brings us to our last reading strategy:

The Directed Reading Activity (DRA)Steps for DRA:As the teacher, you select the reading passage and the three or four vocabulary words you want to teach BEFORE reading.You prepare engaging ways to introduce these words (like Concept Attainment or Beat the Dictionary, for example)You write them on the board and talk them up one at a time (BUT DONT DEFINE THEM!)After youve talked them up, get the students to generate a definition (student-generated language is ALWAYS remembered more than your droning).Give the students a Purpose-Setting Question for reading the passage. The PSQ is an interpretive question, not a factual one. WRITE THE QUESTION ON THE BOARD.Have the students read the passage, usually silently (although you could use Shared Reading)Conduct a summative discussion focused on the PSQ