Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Building Vocabulary

So...I love vocab.  I know there is a lot of criticism out there for the way that vocab is currently taught, and many teachers have eliminated structured vocabulary lessons altogether, but I personally think it's incredibly beneficial for students to continually be increasing their word-knowledge.  I also think that a broad vocabulary helps with standardized tests, not to mention a better understanding of what the students are currently reading.  Here is my basic Freshman vocab work for a typical week:

Hand out vocabulary word list with 10 words.  Students work with a partner, and each partner group finds the definition for 1 of the word.  They must also come up with either a drawing or a sentence that accurately demonstrates the meaning of the word.  Once each group is finished, they share their definition and example with the class.  This takes about 15 minutes.

Students have been asked to correctly use 3 of their vocab words in their Monday personal-response journal.  They are also given a homework assignment to practice their vocab words for 10 minutes using Quizlet.  This takes no classroom time.

Vocab review day.  I alternate weekly between the following review games, and each one really takes no more than 15 minutes:
1. Vocabulary skits - Students in groups of 2-3 create a 30 second skit demonstrating the vocab word.  All students in the group must have a role in the skit, and they must actually use the vocab word aloud.
2. Vocabulary "Win-Lose-or-Draw" - students in groups of 2-3 take turns drawing a picture on the board that corresponds with one of the vocab words while the other students attempt to guess the answer.  The group that gets the answer right has to then explain why and how the picture corresponds to the word in order to receive a point.
3. Vocabulary stories - Students get into groups of 2 or 3 (again) and have to come up with a short (10-15 sentence) story using all of the vocab words. When they are finished, they trade stories with another group for reading.  Students peer edit the use of each other's vocab words.  1 or 2 of the stories are read in front of the class if there is time.

Quiz Day!! All of my vocab quizzes are context quizzes - no multiple choice or matching here.  Students are given 10 sentences (usually based on their reading for the week) and they are asked to match each vocab word to the sentence that best correlates.  The first time they encounter this type of quiz it usually throws them for a loop ("What do you mean we don't have to just memorize the definition?!") But they get the hang of it pretty quickly.

Well, this is how I do vocabulary...how about you? Any other thoughts or ideas?  I'd love to hear them!

Mrs. V.

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