Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bringing Words to Life: Instructional Sequences for Later Grades

While you're reading this, I'm at my first big blogger meet-up!! Vegas may have been too much for this year, but I am so excited to be meeting a bunch of amazing VA bloggers today! Nikki from Teaching in Progress put it all together, and I've been anxious for today's arrival for quite some time now. I'll be sure to post pictures later, of course!

Today also marks the halfway point of this book study (and my summer...wah!) as we review Chapter 5 and instruction for the upper grades. This is also where I have to start reading again because this is as far as I got before deciding I MUST do a book study. Good news is that I can write my posts as I read and everything is fresh on my mind!

First thing is that students need to encounter and use the word frequently before they really know it. They recommend introducing about 10 words per week, and there should be AT LEAST 10 different meaningful interactions with each word by the end of the week. It's also important to make sure that you mix it up. Don't introduce the words in the same order or with the same activity each time. Variety is the spice of life, right?

Within these meaningful interactions, students need to be able to use the word, explore facets of word meaning (expand their understanding of the word so they can apply it to various contexts), and consider relationships among words. One great way to explore facets of word meaning is by providing examples and non-examples for students to label for target words. When introducing relationships between words, show how two target words that seem unrelated can work together. Use them in sentences together and formulate questions for students to ponder and discuss. The more connections we can make, the better our students will understand the word!

Finally, it's important to alter your definition slightly throughout the week. Why? If we give the exact same definition each time, students run the risk of only memorizing the definition and not truly grasping the concept of the word. And remember, our goal is for students to be able to USE these new words, not just define them. We're creating literate individuals, not dictionaries!

Before I go, I wanted to share probably the most common schedule to teaching vocabulary. I also included some examples of activities for each section. The book actually breaks it down and shares examples of specific wording for student-friendly definitions at each level (upper elementary, middle, high school), so if you're unsure, I would recommend checking that out for more clarification.

Next week's chapter is all about assessing and maintaining vocabulary, so be sure to come back and read all about it!

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