How do you teach vocabulary?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by BumbleB, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Apr 2, 2015

    So for the past two years I've been teaching my 8th grade students Greek and Latin roots. We study one root per week, and each root has about five associated vocabulary words (that use the root). Every three weeks, there is a vocabulary quiz that tests their knowledge of the words and their ability to apply knowledge of Greek and Latin roots to unknown words.

    I feel like this is a solid strategy, as many words are made up of roots. However, I don't think the knowledge is being applied to their everyday lives as readers. Every once in a while, a student will approach me with their independent reading book, eager to show me a word that uses a root we've recently studied. But that doesn't happen as much as I'd like. I also struggle to incorporate these pre-selected words (the five that go along with each root) into our novel studies and other aspects of my class.

    I am thinking, for next year, to focus more on strategies rather than a pre-determined word list. Each quarter could be dedicated to a word decoding strategy (Greek and Latin roots could be one quarter). Students would then show their proficiency with the skill by applying it to their independent reading book, novel studies, etc. No more vocab quizzes that test everyone on the same words.

    What do you all think? How do you handle explicit vocabulary instruction in your classroom?
     
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  3. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Apr 2, 2015

    I teach words that I have chosen that specifically relate to the literature we're reading... Not from the reading, rather, words we can use to discuss and write about the reading. It's worked well for me.
     
  4. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Apr 3, 2015

    Well, when I was a kid I learned through lots and lots of reading. I was sort of a reading freak, that's what I'd spend most of each summer doing. I suspect for the most part I really backed into learning most of the Latin/Greek roots by knowing a lot of words and seeing the relations, rather than forwards by learning the roots first.

    I have taught vocabulary using the roots, though, often in whole-class brainstorming sessions where I would offer the root and let the kids come up with the words, and then I'd add a few of my own (like with "tract" -- kids would come up with extract, subtract, etc. but I'd typically need to add "intractable").
     
  5. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Apr 3, 2015

    I choose words from our reading. That seems to work the best. Our other teacher uses those Sadlier-Oxford books. The kids never seem to remember any of the words. They just memorize them for the weekly quiz.
     
  6. elaclassroom

    elaclassroom New Member

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    Apr 15, 2015

    I choose words from our reading, or I allow students to choose words. They submit to me words they should study, I narrow down the selection, and we go from there.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Apr 15, 2015

    I always choose words from out reading. We don't give homework, and our students would never study at home (sad and funny at the same time) so I need to make sure they learn the words in class.
    Vocab. development is always done as a warm up, and the following activities are included (some are repeated, some are skipped):
    - copy words and definitions
    - match words + definitions
    - create sentences with words
    - "translate" sentences
    - having sentences from the literature with the vocab words, and student translate it with the definitions
    - find 2 synonyms for each word from word bank.
    - I haven't done antonyms, that could also be done.

    this usually works, and most students do really well on their vocab quizzes.
     
  8. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Apr 16, 2015

    I like Greek and Latin roots. I never learned them formally, but I feel like I know many of them just through reading and studying other languages.

    I would add an assignment in which students have to read an article and find a certain number of words with one of the Greek/Latin roots they've learned and/or require them to find the words within their independent reading books.
     
  9. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    May 12, 2015

    I would like to revive this thread and ask more specifically...aside from where you take the words from, how do you actually *teach* vocabulary? I know I need to revamp this part of my English instruction for next year. Currently I am not doing enough direct vocabulary instruction, but I need some good ideas for how to include this specifically in my lesson plans.
     
  10. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    May 12, 2015

    We have a vocabulary program that the whole English department is required to use. I don't love it, but I haven't yet come up with something better to propose to change it. The students are required to learn a predetermined list of 30 words each month, for a total of 120 each semester. They take a quiz each month over the current 30 words and a test at the end of the semester over all the words.

    I teach the word by providing the students with a list of the words and a concise definition. The previous teacher made an awesome PowerPoint that I still use. Each slide has three sentences with the word so they can see it used in context, and most slides have a picture to go with it. Every 5 words, we stop and students are assigned a word to write a sentence with (row 1 does the first word, row two the second word, etc.) on a white board. They hold up the sentence so I can see that they learned to use the word correctly. I have some of them share the sentences out loud. If I notice trends, like everyone in that row used the word as a verb instead of a noun, a reteach how to use that word and then all the students write a sentence with the word.

    I also require them to use the words in all of their writing assignments. Journal entries, short answer when appropriate, paragraph reflections... They have to incorporate a certain number of words. I deduct points if they use a word incorrectly and explain how to use the word correctly.

    I also have the vocabulary words and definitions laminated and taped to each desk. Classes compete against each other to see which class can use more words correctly in class discussions. The class gets a point each time a word is used correctly in a class discussion. The students tend to enjoy using the words as insults, so sometimes we have "insult wars". Students are assigned a character from whatever literature we are reading (like Capulets and Montagues) and are partnered up and have a sheet of paper that they trade back and forth writing (appropriate) insults using the vocabulary words. I will ask a few of my more outgoing and creative students to preform their insults outloud in front of the whole class. They get points for these activities too.

    Since I started the "Vocabulary Wars" and giving the classes points each time that the words are used, I've found that my students either say, hear, read, or write the vocabulary words at least 300 times over the course of the month. Some words get used more than others, but they are all used at least once.
     
  11. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    May 12, 2015

    What do you do about less common definitions for the vocabulary words? It is great to know common meanings, but it is also important to know the less common definitions.
     
  12. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    May 12, 2015

    I mentioned before that we have a predetermined list of words, definitions, quizzes and tests that we are required to use. Students are only assessed on one definiton of the word.

    Some of the definitions are the less common definition, especially of a more familiar word.
     
  13. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    May 12, 2015

    Thanks for the great ideas, Koriemo! We don't have any sort of required curriculum or vocabulary list/workbook, so I have been picking words out of the novels we've read here and there. For our current text (Lord of the Flies), I have students working in literature circles identifying their own words to study, but I'm finding they're not really studying them, just rushing through the lit circle activities. I need a better plan for next year!
     
  14. msgab

    msgab Rookie

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    May 15, 2015

    You seem to think this is a solid strategy but you would like to see more kids using the strategy in their everyday reading. I would try to implement something that encourages this type of identification. A game or competition or data wall?
     

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