If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I am a huge advocate for teaching vocabulary for your kids in the classroom. Vocabulary holds a strong relationship with comprehension. It plays an important roll in helping students learn to read as well as reading to learn.
Effective instruction through vocabulary activities is essential. Students need both direct and indirect instruction in vocabulary meanings as well as multiple exposures to words. It is through multiple exposures, repetition, and vocabulary activities that students begin to understand words and how to when speaking and writing. For years I have followed Marzano’s Six Step Process when teaching vocabulary. It involves the following steps:
1. Describe and explain
2. Restate and Explain in their OWN words.
3. Create a drawing.
4. Enrich and expand their knowledge (synonyms, antonyms, prefixes…)
5. Collaborate with others (partner work, think-pair-share)
6. Involve with play (games, word work, etc..)
I know those six steps probably seem like a lot to take in. Research shows that effective vocabulary instruction can happen in just 15 minutes a day. Here is what my weekly vocabulary routine looks like.
Monday: Introduce and Explore
Tuesday Visualize and Define
Wednesday: Synonyms and Antonyms
Thursday: Apply in Writing
In this post today I’m going to walk you through several vocabulary activities that can be used for step 1, introducing and exploring new vocabulary words.
Prior to introducing vocabulary words, I like to check their background knowledge and see what they already know. We categorize them using this Spotlight Words vocabulary activity based on how familiar they are with the word. Then, after we’ve finished the story at the end of the week we go back and recategorize them. This gives you a good idea on what words you need to focus more time on throughout the week.
Once I have a good idea on their background knowledge then we are ready for the introduction of new words. I use a vocabulary exercise called My Turn, Your Turn. This idea came from Word Nerds. This is hands down, the BEST professional development book that I’ve read when it comes to vocabulary instruction.
This model focuses on 6 things when introducing new vocabulary words to students.
1. Making predictions about the meaning.
2. Teaching parts of speech.
3. Give a kid-friendly definition.
4. Discuss what they already know.
5. Use it in a sentence.
Before everything you say, use the words “my turn.” Then the students will repeat what you just said. Here is an example of how it works. The teacher holds up a vocabulary card with the word breathe.
- Teacher chants, “My turn, breathe. Your turn, __________.” Students fill in the blank with the word breathe as they chant together.
- Teacher chants, “My turn, breathe, 1. Your turn, ___________.” Teacher claps the syllables and holds up a finger as you slowly and carefully pronounce the word. Students repeat.
- Teacher chants, “My turn, breathe is a verb. It is something you can do. Your turn, __________.”
- Teacher: Ok boys and girls, what do we know about the word breathe. Turn and talk with your partner or the person next to you. Allow a few to share what they know.
- Teacher: Breathe is how air moves in and out of your mouth and nose like an air tank. Model and have students do.
- Teacher: Let’s try it in a sentence. “I want to breathe some fresh air.” Your turn, _____________. Students will turn and talk with their partners using the word in a sentence.
These are kept in our Writer’s Notebooks and we add to them throughout the week as part of the six-step process. We do not complete the entire graphic organizer for each word on day one. On Mondays, we only add the word and definition.