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

Joetta Beaman posted a status
"Power Financial is today's financial solution in different scenarios. Offer Payday loans upwards to $1,000, Title Loans, Auto Loans, and pre"
11 hours ago
Profile IconPaul Turner, Erika Sulecki, Karol Dąbrowski and 6 more joined The Educator's PLN
12 hours ago
Matt Marino posted a discussion

Research Inquiry for Supervisors/Administrators Who Do Teacher Evaluations

I'm currently conducting research for a journal article I intend to write regarding the potential to use Google Glass for teacher observations.I have 17 questions split over two Survey Monkey surveys I'm hoping anyone who participates in teacher evaluations wouldn't mind filling out. Your confidentiality is important, so there are no questions requiring you to identify yourself.Here are the surveys:…See More
19 hours ago
andrew aker posted a group
Thumbnail

MineCraft Learning!

Calling all teachers, learners, gamers and nerds!Minecraft is like legos on the computer.  Actually, Minecraft is much more than that!  We've converted minecraft into an ESL teaching tool!   It's also an organization management learning tool!  It's also a math learning tool! It's an economics learning tool!  It's so much more!  Our teachers at our school here in China have been teaching with Minecraft for about a year now and we are finding that you can teach almost any subject with it!My…See More
yesterday
Teresa Conley replied to Teresa Conley's discussion I need your voice! What do you believe about your own efficacy for influencing student learning while working under education sanctions?
"Would you mind taking the survey? The link is included above. I would love to hear what else you have to say! Thanks, Teresa"
yesterday
alex atawura replied to Teresa Conley's discussion I need your voice! What do you believe about your own efficacy for influencing student learning while working under education sanctions?
"I think the students must be made to understand the essence of the accountability sanctions to their aim as students."
yesterday
Michael Van Tyne posted a status
"Looking for review games for my students to play in order for them to review for the PASS exam"
Friday
Teresa Conley posted a discussion

I need your voice! What do you believe about your own efficacy for influencing student learning while working under education sanctions?

Hello! I am a dissertation candidate through Northcentral University and I am interested in knowing your beliefs about your ability to positively impact student learning while operating under school accountability sanctions. This study seeks to explore what skills or knowledge teachers and principals believe are critical to support their ability to impact student learning while also trying to implement school reform initiatives.This study includes a survey and interviews. If you would like to…See More
Friday

Awards And Nominations

© 2014   Created by Thomas Whitby.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service