The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

A Fun and Effective way to Build Student Vocabulary

I have to share another fabulous technique I’ve learned in the brilliant BrainSMART program. This technique revolves around vocabulary building.

Why Vocabulary Matters

Vocabulary is a skill that frequently does not get the attention it deserves. However, its importance cannot be overstated. As students learn, their brains are always looking for ways
to tie new information to pre-existing knowledge. In this way, the
brain is able to chunk information into existing neural networks, thus
making retention and retrieval more likely. With this in mind, consider
two students reading a new text. The first student did not come from
an enriched background, and has a limited vocabulary. Even though his
decoding ability is at an adequate level, he is not familiar with
several of the words in his text. His comprehension is therefore
limited. The next student was exposed to an enriched vocabulary from an
early age. As this student reads his new text, he is able to
understand all the words. When he comes across an unknown word, he is
able to figure it out through context clues. Decoding skills being
equal, vocabulary made the difference. The playing field needs to be
leveled!

Level the Playing Field

A teacher can level the playing field through explicit vocabulary instruction. This does NOT mean copying definitions from the dictionary! Instead, one option is to try what I
call Word Tallies. I gave my second graders three new words last
Monday: peculiar, quaint, and stupendous. After introducing the words
and discussing meanings, I gave students the option of dramatizing the
words (which is another strategy in itself). One pair dramatized a
phone conversation about something they found peculiar. The next acted
out a quaint tea party. The last pair had a discussion about how
stupendous their teacher is! Finally, I put the words on the wall.
Every time someone in the classroom (even me) used one of the words, the
word earned a tally mark. Students could even earn tally marks by
using the words at home (even other family members could add to the
points). I emailed parents to give them a heads up. By the end of the
second day ‘peculiar’ was used 40 times, ‘quaint’ was used 35, and
‘stupendous’ was used 45 times! It was stupendous! We kept our count
with tally marks, and then moved the data to a chart to analyze our
results.

Finally

It was clear by the end of the second day that students had a firm grasp of the meaning of all three words. Would they have gotten the same understanding by copying definitions from the
dictionary? I don’t think so. The icing on the cake came in an email
from an ESL parent. She said her son came home and taught HER the words
and definitions! Wow. The sprinkles on top of the icing… students
were able to read the words. This is now a weekly activity for my
class.

I’m learning many other vocabulary building strategies as well. This idea came from one of my BrainSMART class books, Classrooms That Work: They Can All Read and Write, by Cunningham & Allington.

Views: 18

Tags: brain-based, learning, teaching, vocabulary

Comment

You need to be a member of The Educator's PLN to add comments!

Join The Educator's PLN

About

Thomas Whitby created this Ning Network.

Latest Activity

John Marsh shared their blog post on Twitter
43 minutes ago
John Marsh posted a blog post

How to Get Success in Math?

Many students desire to do well at math. Some students feel like knowing how to do well in math, some skills or tips which allow them to do well in the exams. To succeed in math, students just need to apply the right strategies. Below you can find some quick steps which will help you to do better at mathematics.1) Start with basic…See More
44 minutes ago
Angie Ranard is now a member of The Educator's PLN
58 minutes ago
Christine Hinkley updated an event
Thumbnail

20th Annual Online Learning Consortium International Conference on Online Learning at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

October 29, 2014 to October 31, 2014
Online learning is one of the most talked about and fastest growing sectors in higher education and corporate training today. The OLC International Conference on Online Learning is the premier global gathering covering this field.Call for Presentations deadline extended to May 19, 2014.See More
yesterday
Profile IconLaural Hartmann, Doug Ficker, Lua Lise and 10 more joined The Educator's PLN
yesterday
Joel Josephson posted a discussion

EU Multilingual Families children’s eStoryBooks

Great NewsThe EU Multilingual Families children’s eStoryBooks have now been published. There are 2 books, for 0 to 6 and 6 to 10.http://www.multilingual-families.eu/repository/for-children They are specifically designed to motivate children to be learn…See More
Tuesday
Robert Sinclair Jr updated their profile
Tuesday
John Marsh shared their blog post on Facebook
Monday

Awards And Nominations

© 2014   Created by Thomas Whitby.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service