Vocabulary I know can seem like such a bore, sort of a waste of time to some. However, this is an important skill, that can actually be one of the main causes of a child’s frustration of reading and writing. When a student doesn’t understand a word or two or ten in something that they are reading or listening to, then their whole comprehension of the story will go all out of wack.
Introducing words of your own with vocabulary lists are perfect and helpful and can be used here too. This strategy that is shown is one that students can be taught to use in their every day reading as well as vocabulary lists. Any word, any root, or prefix/suffix/affixes; they will all work and for just about any age group (elementary – college). Words can then be saved and remembered for future practice and use as well.
Materials are quite simple, I use a notecard through a journal that will be fine too. Set it up with a square in the middle then into four sections outside of the square. (just as shown in the figure below)
The Term: This can go in the square (if you are using a notecard the back can also be labeled with this as well.
Definition: The definition of the word goes in the top left box. This can be from a book or website, but I encourage friends to reword the definition using their own words. This will help with remembering, since they made it themselves. Making shorter definitions will help too.
Characteristics or Drawing: The upper right box will be taking up this segment. This can be a list of characteristics that define the word if it’s more general, but a picture can also be drawn to show the word if this makes more sense.
Synonyms and/or Examples: Down in the lower left box students can write these. Either synonyms of the term. For struggling readers these can be words they can put in place while reading to help them understand this term and what they’re reading. These can also be other words that students can just relate to this term. Students can also write examples or example sentences or phrases of the term being used or demonstrated.
Antonyms and/or Non-examples: Finally in the lower right corner are where these will be written. Some might find it silly to write down what the word isn’t. However, it is quite useful for some students to imagine and understand what words and events are in fact not that term. it can also allow students to work out what the opposite of their term would be. Like the synonyms, this will be a place for students to write a list of antonyms or a sentence of what this term does not demonstrate.
What it might look like to teach this strategy
Example Mini Lesson
- Gather the group and begin reading chapter 36 with the group. When you get to the end of the chapter state your concerns. “you know there are some words that I don’t see every day, how about you all I see some like the word sensible on the first line. Do you guys see that?”
- Explain to students that understanding the vocabulary in the text not only will make the story more understandable but later maybe I might want to use some of these words to help improve/enhance my speaking and writing.
- Show the students the framer- model plus and explain that we are going to be using this to help us digest these vocabulary words. (explain they will be using index card)
- Take a tour of the different spots.
- Model using it with the word sensible look up the word using the laptops provided then fill in the definition, synonyms/ examples, the anonyms/non-examples, and draw a picture. And finally the statement at back. (use an index card)
- State your thinking while you are doing this.
- Ask students to look at the words in chapter 36 and have them state some words they might not understand and make a quick list. Have students look up one of these in pairs and fill out their own index card using the framer model (keep the model up so they know what it should look like.)
- Come back together and ask students how they can use this in a different sentence now that they have explored a bit.
- Send students to find define three words using the framer model plus to expand on that word
- When they are done they will partner up and write down one sentence for each word using these new words. (just on lined paper)
- The teacher will observe the students as they search for these definitions and provide support
- They will each turn this paper in.
Some Uses for this strategy/tool
- Textbook definitions
- Difficult words in texts (books, articles, etc.)
- Daily conversations
- Vocabulary Lists
- Learning about prefixes/affixes/suffixes
- Remembering important people/events/places
- Any other situations our friends can think of as well…
What to use vocabulary words for
- Practicing to help with reading
- Play vocabulary games
- Enhance your writing by adding these new words in
- Use them in daily conversations
- Tuck them away for future use (vocabulary is forever, not just one week!)