Friday, September 26, 2014

Word Study that Works...

As a fifth grade ELA and social studies teacher, I am always looking for ways to making word study or vocabulary instruction more meaningful to my students. Over the past couple of years, I have been trying different strategies and ideas with a lot of trial and error. One of the most recent activities that I’ve tried is a spin off from “10 Important Words”.  This activity can be used with any grade level or subject matter. I call it “Sticky Words.”

Sticky Words:
1) Using any text, pass out ten sticky notes to each student.
2) While the students read or you read aloud, have them underline and write 5 to 10 unfamiliar words on a post-it note
3) I ask students to share their words and if anyone else in the room has the same unfamiliar word we put them on the board in a column.
4) I repeat this step until all of the sticky notes are on the board.
5) As a class, we analyze the graph on the board and the most frequent words become the assigned vocabulary words. The other words can still be studied in small groups. (This is a wonderful opportunity for differentiation.)


Vocabulary Word of the Day:

Every day (or every couple of days), I introduce a new vocabulary word. It can be any word from a list that is relevant to your grade level or other words you think your kids need to know. We spend a couple minutes talking about the meaning and giving examples and non-examples.  I then have the kids record the word in their vocabulary journals.  I keep these words posted on notecards along the top of the whiteboard. You could put them anywhere the kiddos can see them on a daily basis.

My kids always love this activity because I encourage them to try their new word at home, in class, and in their writing. I tell them they can’t just make up reasons to use their word, but they need to use it naturally in conversation.  I reward the students that are able to do this with tickets from our classroom reward system. This has been one of the most successful activities I have done in my classroom with word study. This activity seems to appeal to even the most unmotivated learner. I have seen challenging vocabulary words pop up months later in student writing because they are motivated to use their new vocabulary.
I don’t assess words of the day at all except once every nine weeks. I give them a VOCABULARY THINK-TAC-TOE activity to complete using their words.  This is a choice menu that allows them to demonstrate their knowledge of the words with three different activities. One child might do charades for their words, and another child might make riddles. It is a fun and engaging way to hold all students accountable for their words.

Vocabulary Journals:

When my kiddos complete vocabulary journals for me, I always have them write sentences using their words. Over the years, I have become frustrated with the sentences that students write for me. My students usually write sentences that are limited and do not have context clues.  This year I was determined to get better 'showing' sentences from my students.  I started the year of giving my kiddos a stretch your sentences printable to keep in their notebooks.  Their sentences seem to be much better when they know they have to answer the questions; who, what, where, & when.  Download this printable for free.
I construct my vocabulary journals using a cover sheet that my students decorate and a copy of the stretch your sentence sheet. I then include many copies of the free organizers below.  You can also use a simple composition book and have them glue in the organizers.


1 comment:

  1. Words are important. From them your belief systems are formed and realities are defined. As a leader you will inspire confidence and courage based upon your word selection. What message do you want to send? To be sure, you will face many obstacles and challenging circumstances will always be a companion on your journey to success. But when the word impossible enters your vocabulary you then marginalize your leadership and the chances of success for your team. is a medium through which one can enhance and improve their vocabulary skills.