As you learned in my previous post, it’s time to throw the vocabulary list OUT! Students need the words in context, and they need practice with the words over the course of the year- not just the week you introduce them.
This post is going to give you five ways you can keep vocabulary instruction alive all year long!
INTERACTIVE WORD WALL
Yes, that’s right. INTERACTIVE. That means it doesn’t stay the same all year. Get student input on how to arrange, and later, rearrange, the words. Words could be sorted by parts of speech. They could be placed on individual strips with room under the words to allow for lists of synonyms. You could even allow students to create illustrations to be displayed with the words. I’m sure students will even have their own ideas of how to sort them!
DETERMINE WORD FUNCTION
ACTIVATE PRIOR KNOWLEDGE
“Warm up” the students by discussing a topic the words fall under when applicable (for example, if the book is about bats… ask, “What do you know about bats?”) Show the vocabulary words and allow them to share what they know about how the words relate to bats.
Get students moving!! Allow students to act out vocabulary words (old and new) by asking them, “What does it look like when you…?” Another fun game resembles the game HedBanz. Write the word on a strip of paper long enough to go around their head, stapled (like a crown) – students should not see the word on their head. Students should ask questions about their word to others to help them guess the word that is on their crown.
This should be used as a front-loading activity, if you wish to use it. It should NOT replace reading the mentor text and discussing the word in the context of the story, but it is a great way to integrate various learning styles in order to help the words “sink in.”
I had the privilege of hearing Robert Marzano present on his six step process several years ago, and it was a nice way to change up how I had been teaching vocabulary. My kids showed a lot of growth, especially in content-area words. This process is not something you want to do for EVERY word (as in all six steps every time) – you don’t have the time, and the kids would get bored FAST.
Here is a short summary of the six steps: