ideas to integrate vocabulary

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Koriemo, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Dec 19, 2014

    As this semester comes to a close, I've noticed that my students have a hard time grasping their vocabulary. On their final exams, they scored lowest on vocabulary. This is high school English.

    Here's what we do right now:
    1. Quiz over 30 words every 3 weeks
    2. Sentence writing with all 30 words the week before the quiz
    3. 20-30 minutes on quizlet in the library the day before the quiz
    4. Point out the vocabulary in our reading
    5. At the end of the semester, a multiple test over all 120 words
    6. On the final exam, 60 words for matching, broken up into sections of 10.

    The quizzes are matching, multiple choice, and sentence completion. The sentence completion can be tricky, but students often miss many points on the matching portion, which should be easy. I give them the definitions and two synonyms each week. The definitions are short, 1-3 words usually.

    Studying for vocabulary is mainly independent. Do you have any suggestions for what I can do to help them learn these and study them better, without taking up too much extra class time?
     
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  3. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Dec 19, 2014

    I would like to hear others take on integrating vocabulary as well.

    I will point out, that in myopinion #2 and #3 are misleading when you strategically do them so close to a quiz. It is almost as if you know the students are not going to own the words themselves and are just test prepping them for the test day.

    I have no solutions as I struggle with vocabulary as well.
     
  4. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Dec 19, 2014

    Thanks for the thoughts! I feel like #2 is valuable because it allows students to practice using the words in context, which is something they are asked to do on the quiz. I do see your points with #3... I know that the students don't study on their own, which is why we take some class time to do it. I also don't give very much homework otherwise, so it's not like they are busy writing essays and completing reading for the class on top of studying.
     
  5. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I totally agree with using class time, I really don't see any way around it for me. I do hope some people who have an "interesting or new" approach to teaching and integrating vocabulary will share.
     
  6. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Dec 19, 2014

    I would suggest writing the vocabulary in sentences the first activity after introducing the vocabulary in class. Then use the vocabulary often in class discussions. Require it in written work and add a incentive for them to use the definitions properly in class discussions and written work.

    I'd do a quizlet at 1 1/2 weeks so they know their progress.

    They will not integrate vocabulary without using it orally and writing it.

    Also, make sure they understand the obscure definitions of a word also because they are the meanings that most often appear on SAT or ACT tests.

    You should also be using the vocabulary. It may seem awkward because most vocabulary isn't in common language, but if it isn't used, people will not remember it. There will be some who will remember when seeing or hearing it just a few times but other students will need to see and hear it 10+ times to remember it.
     
  7. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Dec 19, 2014

    This is a weakness for me and something I need to improve.
     
  8. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Dec 19, 2014

    I'm 100% trying to improve in this area, but one things my kids really like recently is doing a picture along with the definition. I make them do a quick sketch next to the meaning (hopefully) to help their memory.

    We also play the game "Heads Up" on my phone. Where they have to act out the word until another student guesses it.
     
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 19, 2014

    We don't give homework, and our kids NEVER study at home, so vocabulary instruction is done 100 % in class.
    These are strategies I use, mostly in the form of a warmup, every day:
    - copy words and their definitions. I go over with explanation, have them pronounce it, give more info on the words
    - match definition with words, using their notes
    - find 2 synonyms for each word from the given word bank
    - find synonym and antonym for each word giving in a word bank
    - fill in blanks with vocab words
    - create sentences
    - and a couple of time more match definition with word
    These vocabulary words are used in context in the reading. As the days go on I tell them to try not using their notes unless they have to to see how much they've learned.

    Somehow the results are really high overall when i test them, not perfect, but if they do the work every day, they can't hlep it but learn them.
     
  10. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Dec 19, 2014

    I read a book a few years ago called "Word Nerds" and it wasn't outstanding overall-but it did have a really good outline for how to celebrate vocabulary more in the classroom. That may be something to try.
     
  11. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Dec 19, 2014

    I don't teach words from the reading, I teach words we can use to talk and write about the reading. My students get 5-6 at a time, with lots of explanation from me. I use them as we discuss the reading--Hamlet vacillates about whether it's better to live or die; Claudius is duplicitous, etc. My tests incorporate vocab into the questions about the content; I never simply test vocab, because I know that kids will just learn the words long enough to take that quiz. Before a test, we play a review game I call last student standing, where if the first student defines a word correctly, they remain standing and pick a word for the second student. I repeat each word and the correct definition when it's given. Everyone still standing at the end of the round, usually 5 minutes, gets a bonus point on the test. I've had relatively good luck with this approach. It's what I did my masters research on.
     
  12. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Dec 19, 2014

    I've been doing quite a bit of research on incorporating vocabulary in both secondary and elementary classrooms as part of my SLO, and my grad school program. Many of the strategies you are using have been proven to be ineffective...The most essential component to vocabulary instruction is that it must be connected to students' lives. I'm no expert by any means, but here are some things that I took out of my research paper:

    According to Ruddell (2008), “Vocabulary knowledge has long been accepted as a critical component of text comprehension and learning in all subject areas.” Most vocabulary instruction in schools today is isolated, and not connected to students’ lives. Rather, it is often memorized for a short period of time, and then forgotten. It is essential that vocabulary instruction be connected across subject areas, assignments, and to students’ lives. Prereading vocabulary strategies remove barriers that students may face when reading. Postreading vocabulary strategies help students with long-term acquisition and use.

    Semantic Mapping
    Semantic mapping may be used as a whole-class, small-group, or individual activity. It is a great activity for students to use prior to reading a text, because it requires them to activate prior knowledge.
    -The teacher selects one vocabulary word, and writes it on the board.
    -Students suggest as many words as they can that are related to the focus word. These words are written on the map.
    -Students categorize their lists, and label the categories.
    -Students create their own map for the new word, and include the new categories.
    -Students then share and discuss their maps.

    The Vocabulary Self-Collection Strategy (VSS)
    The main purpose of VSS is for students to retain important vocabulary terms and concepts. The words used in the lesson are ones that students need to know. The words should be important to students, and they should be curious about learning and using the words. Students may work independently, or in groups of two to five. VSS can be used in any subject area, and with any type of media (text, video, lecture or presentation, etc.).
    -After reading a text, students select a word that they want to learn more about.
    -Students should be prepared to:
    Identify the word.
    Tell where they found it in the text.
    Tell what they think the word means.
    Tell why the word is important, and why the class should learn it.
    -Students then nominate their word, discussing points a through d above. The class should discuss and refine the definition of the word together, while using context to develop meaning.
    -The teacher nominates the word that s/he wishes to have on the list, while following a through d above.
    -The class then narrows the list down to an agreed-upon number (five to six words is ideal).
    -Definitions of the words are discussed and revised, if needed.
    -Students write down the final list of words and definitions. They may write down the additional words that did not make the final list, if they wish to do so.
    -Students complete other vocabulary lessons with the words throughout the week.
    -All additional lessons and activities should include the following principles (Ruddell, 2008):
    Activities should allow students to use words in a meaningful way.
    Activities should allow students to connect words and ideas to their own lives.
    Activities should develop relationships with other content words.
    Activities should encourage higher-order thinking.
    Activities should lead students to a variety of resources.
    Activities should allow for sharing and collaboration.


    Context, Structure, Sound, Reference (CSSR)
    CSSR is a process for students to follow when determining the meaning of a word. The steps of the process are in order beginning with the highest probability of success. The best way to teach students how to use CSSR is by teaching the steps directly, and making an anchor chart for students to refer to as needed.
    -Step 1: Context
    When students are faced with an unknown word, their first step should be to look at the context in which it is being used.
    Can they guess the meaning?
    Are there clues in the sentence and/or paragraph that can help?
    If the meaning of the word is still unclear, students should move on to step 2.
    -Step 2: Structure
    Structural features of words often hold clues to the word’s meaning.
    Students should look at parts of the word.
    Are there prefixes or roots that they know the meaning of?
    If the meaning of the word is still unclear, students should move on to step 3.
    -Step 3: Sound
    Focusing on phonics and the pronunciation of words is most helpful in the primary grades.
    In the secondary grades, most unknown words are new to students’ vocabulary, so pronunciation alone often does not help determine meaning.
    Teachers should guide students to apply and extend what they already know about pronunciation rules, and when these rules will be helpful in determining word meaning.
    If the meaning of the word is still unclear, students should move on to step 4.
    -Step 4: Reference
    Students should have an understanding of how, and when, to use reference materials, such as dictionaries and online search engines.
    They should also recognize that, although the surest in determining meaning, using reference materials is the most disruptive to their reading.

    All of these strategies are meant for secondary-aged students. I have used both VSS and CSSR with my 2nd-graders, and they really enjoyed the lessons. I hope this helps a bit!
     
  13. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Dec 19, 2014

    I like this, ty for posting.

    When you say students get 5-6 words that are used to talk and write about reading, how often is this? How long does it take you to give the students 5-6 words and then writing and talking activities that follow?
    Is it 5-6 words over the course of 2-3 weeks studying Hamlet? 1 week? On average how long is it?
     
  14. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Good stuff, however, can you elaborate on connected to students' lives looks like or means?
     
  15. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    The activity/lesson examples that I gave explain this a bit...With Semantic mapping, they're using prior knowledge to make meaning of the words. With VSS they're searching for words that they feel are important to know.

    I found this online, and I like the explanation: Teachers can implement various practical strategies that can help students develop their academic vocabulary. Yet, unless they are connected to students’ schema and experiences, effective strategies can easily turn into meaningless tools. In order for students to effectively build academic vocabulary, instruction must connect with the students in every aspect. Ruddell (2008) asserts the following claim on vocabulary instruction: It must connect with reading/writing assignments, class topics, and the content to be learned; it must connect with students’ prior knowledge and previous experience, with their interests and needs for learning content, and with their daily lives; and it must connect with all that goes on in the classroom, the “whole fabric” of classroom life.
     
  16. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Ok, that makes perfect sense to me, ty.
     
  17. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Dec 19, 2014

    ;)

    Basically, just giving kids a list of words to define or match up with definitions isn't really going to teach them vocabulary.
     
  18. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yeah, this is not how I did/do vocabulary. I just wasn't sure what "connected to their life" meant. I was thinking kids don't typically use the word "remorse" so that word would be "off limits" to teaching them or something like that.

    Like you said, it just means to connect that word to other synonyms for remorse that they do have knowledge of.
     
  19. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Dec 20, 2014

    Thanks for all of the suggestions! I'm coming up with some ideas about how to incorporate them into our daily routine. I'm required to give these vocabulary quizzes and tests.

    I teach sophomores and juniors. The sophomore word list contains mainly familiar words that the students have seen before, but may not be able to define. They do better with the vocabulary.

    The junior word list contains more unfamiliar words, though they are definitely practical. I think I will have the students try the semantic mapping activity for a warm up twice a week. Another assignment I'm going to try is to give them 3 words, and ask them to use the word at some point during their day. Then the next day, I'll have them do a journal entry describing when they used the word. I'm sure most of them will forget to do this, especially at first, so I'll also announce that they can write about a situation that happened and describe how they would have used the word.

    Hopefully, this will help the vocabulary connect to their lives a little bit better.

    I'll also make a score chart on the side of the whiteboard. I'll have my classes compete to see which class can use the vocabulary words most often during class discussion. They get a point for each time they correctly use one of the vocabulary words.
     
  20. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Dec 21, 2014

    Hamlet takes in excess of five weeks; it's the longest period I spend on a unit. I just had a test on acts 2-3, for example, and there were 24 words on it that I had given over the two weeks we had spent on those acts. The words are incorporated into the questions and answers on a multiple choice test, and students are asked to use a certain number in a response to a writing prompt. I never do "activities" aside from the review game. I make a point of using the words repeatedly, of asking them what word relates to this scene, etc. These are seniors, BTW.
     

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