Last week we met with grade level teams to discuss our most recent benchmark data. Resoundingly, there was an understanding that while students may know the concept or skill, what was most lacking, in grades 3-5, science, reading, and math…was vocabulary. More specifically, lack of vocabulary mastery. Each grade level mentioned it, and some discussed specific vocabulary words that were embedded within the test that weren’t at all related to the content being taught. How as a teacher can you find time to teach “one more thing”?
Imagine my delight when I remembered I’d grabbed a recent ASCD arias, titled “Vocab Rehab”, by Marilee Sprenger. Knowing it would be a quick read (all arais’s are designed to be short & sweet!) I intentionally got to a restaurant 30 minutes before a dinner date to meet a friend. That was all it took to blow my mind!
Ms. Sprenger began the book with research to illustrate the importance of a vocabulary enriched classroom. She specifically mentions needing to “teach up”, not watering down academic vocabulary within instruction. Vocabulary acquisition is cumulative,meaning students with high vocabularies learn new words faster than students with more limited vocabularies (Referenced from a study by Hart & Risley, 2003).
She gives multiple 10 minute lessons that can help increase vocabulary instruction that can apply to any subject at any grade level. The list of ways “not” to teach vocabulary rang a bell…assignments like “use the word in a sentences, find and define, write and draw a picture”, all assignments given BEFORE a student truly understands a word. By using the integrated strategies Ms. Sprenger shares will ensure students KNOW the words, vs just being able to recognize a definition. The ability to read & understand a word within context require more than just a “look it up”!
My two favorite activities? Let’s say you have 10-15 words you want to teach. Give each student a lanyard with either a vocabulary word or a synonym for one of the new words. Have students line up by “like” terms, or antonyms throughout the week. Call by like meanings, or opposites.
I also like the idea of giving student a lanyard with a new vocabulary word, it’s definition, synonyms, and antonyms to wear each day. They can partner quiz at restroom breaks, in the lunch line, etc. Once a word is mastered or used successfully in class, they can switch lanyards. Easy!
There are so many gems of greatness is this book, I highly recommend it to anyone who recognizes how valuable vocabulary instruction should be. It focuses on easy ways to form strong connections in the brain over a short period of time…every teachers goal!
I happen to have an extra copy of the ASCD arias “Vocab Rehab”, if you’re interested! Enter to win by with your information below!
[gravityform id=”4″ name=”Win your own of Marilee Sprenger’s “Vocab Rehab”!”]
(This giveaway will end in one week, on April 12th!)