Like many English teachers, I’ve gone through a whole bouquet of ways to teach vocabulary before settling on what (I think) will be my preferred method. This year, I’m choosing about 25 words from each quarter’s main text, providing those word before the girls start reading the book, and then working with them on finding different ways to not only define, but feel comfortable recognizing and using those words. In the first quarter, they wrote definitions as well as sample sentences, took a fill-in-the-blank quiz, and then expanded their understanding of the words by finding them in the text once we had read the book and then adding in what they discovered from context clues, as well as assigning pictures to each word that might help jog their memories before they were tested on the words again. With this method, we will have studied about a hundred words together in the course of the year, but I hope also to have instilled in them the importance of doing more than just looking up the word on Dictionary.com and copying/pasting the definition!
For the second quarter, I’ve provided them a list of words from The Catcher in the Rye and they’ve already done definitions, including parts of speech. We did vocabulary dialogues in small groups in class, where they had to choose five words from the list and write a dialogue showing that they understand the definitions, which they then acted out for the class. Next, we’re going to do a project where each girl will choose just one word from the list and do an in-depth study. They will do a vocabulary tree for their chosen word, and they will also make two short videos, one defining their chosen word, and another defining a related word I’ve chosen from the Word of the Day section on the New York Times‘s education-focused blog, The Learning Network. The Learning Network is running a 15-second vocabulary video contest, which is what inspired me to add a video component to this project, and I will be requiring my students to post all of their videos on the contest page. The contest post is full of helpful links and examples, and I think this will be a fun project for my students, many of whom are fairly adept with video production already. All the vocabulary trees will get displayed in my classroom, so the entire project has a public aspect with authentic audiences. Finally, at the end of the quarter, they will be formally tested on these words.
I’m also considering making a YouTube or TeacherTube channel where I could host all of the videos in one spot, which would be a great study bank for the girls to have for both the test and our midterm. I’m still working on this part, as I’m not sure whether it would be best to have one channel and share that password with the girls, or whether I would be better off having them send their videos to me for me to post them. There’s a learning curve involved here for me too, clearly, so it’s a challenge for me as well as the girls. If you have any suggestions on the best way to facilitate this aspect, I’d love to hear them, and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
- The Learning Network: Student Contest | 15-Second Vocabulary Videos (learning.blogs.nytimes.com)
- “Student Contest | 15-Second Vocabulary Videos” (larryferlazzo.edublogs.org)
- Using Vocabulary A-Z for Core Vocabulary AAC (teachinglearnerswithmultipleneeds.blogspot.com)
- Vocabulary Presentation (nicoleneal.wordpress.com)
- The Learning Network Blog: Word of the Day | repute (learning.blogs.nytimes.com)
- The Importance of Vocabulary (istesstudentservices.wordpress.com)
- Pre-Reading Strategy (kaitmur.wordpress.com)
- Pre-Reading Strategy: Vocabulary Preview (bowmanml.wordpress.com)