Saturday, August 31, 2013

How I'm doing vocab. this year

Man, time got away from me. Already two weeks since I last posted. The school year is in full swing with tests, papers, projects, football games, and all those other things that signal we are back to it.

I have been knocked on my butt this past week with a terrible cough/cold. I also had lots of kids out sick. Never before have I had to take a sick day the first couple weeks of the year. I am feeling better, but still not totally myself yet.

Well now that I've had a couple weeks of doing vocab. in a new, CC-aligned way, I thought I'd post how it's going.

In the past, we had vocab. workbooks with arbitrary word lists, the kids got 20 words every two weeks, we'd do workbook exercises plus some supplemental stuff I came up with, then did a review game and quizzed on those words. NO MORE. And I am excited about the change.

Now, our tier 2 words are coming from what we read. Whenever I assign a reading, I go through beforehand and pick out 3-4 words (per week) that I think are difficult, yet frequently-used words my students will need to know across the curriculum and to use in everyday conversations.

I also define for them Tier 3 words (not often used or very content-specific terms). The tier 2 words I underline in the reading and have them try to figure out from context clues. Then when we discuss the reading, we come up with a consensus of a definition (if no one knows it, I let them use their phones to look it up in an online dictionary). They keep vocab. journals and keep a running list of our words: the words, definition, synonyms they come up with, and they write down the sentence it appeared in.

Every couple weeks, we take those words and will make a decorative sheet for them for our Word Wall. They can use colors and fun fonts to make a sheet with the word, definition, and a picture that shows that word's meaning. Then we hang them on our wall, so we can always see them and incorporate them into our language. So far, between my seniors and juniors, we have about 12 words up there and it will keep growing.

We also do some supplemental activities about once every two weeks. This week I had them fill out graphic organizers for each word with things like their own sentence, antonyms, synonyms, and a picture to demonstrate. I also plan to play some review games.

One game I want to do I learned at a CC conference. I plan to get note cards and for each word, do three things: one card has the word, one card has the definition, and one card has a defining picture. I'd do this for all our words so far (and cover up the word wall or take them down). Each student gets a card and has to find their two word partners. Then they have to stand with their group and show me all three cards that go together. I like this idea a lot; I just want to accumulate more words before we play it.

Extra credit:
Everyone feels differently about extra credit, and I don't offer a lot, but I do offer a few points. I find that many students don't take advantage, but the ones that really want to try to better their grade do. Each week, students can earn one extra credit vocab. point by doing one of the following with a word on our word wall:

1) Use the word correctly in a Facebook status and show it to me.
2) Use the word in a Tweet and show it to me.
3) Find a word in a book or magazine/Internet article they are reading and bring it in.
4) See the word used out in public somewhere, take a pic of it and bring it in.
5) Use a word correctly in class.

So far, I've had a handful take advantage and it's been fun. A lot of them really dig the FB and Twitter options.

Overall, I am loving doing vocab. differently than in the past, and it frees up time to do more with lit. and writing, instead of feeling like I have to get through 20 words in two weeks that they won't retain anyhow.

1 comment:

  1. I love your extra credit options! It makes a huge difference when students begin to see their vocab words being used in "real life" and also when they can actually use them correctly. I will be borrowing this idea for sure!