Home > Writing Process > March 31 Webinar Notes: Vocabulary

March 31 Webinar Notes: Vocabulary

April 2nd, 2011
Scrabble game

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by dangerismycat

I hope everyone who attended Thursday’s webinars learned one or two new things about vocabulary instruction and can try out some of those ideas with students. Special thanks to Jill Spencer for adding her expertise to the sessions. Don’t forget to check out Jill’s two books, Everyone’s Invited and Teaming Rocks! Both books are published by the National Middle School Association and each has a chapter about vocabulary.

In the first part of the webinar, we talked about books, articles, and research Jill and I have read on the subject of vocabulary instruction and shared some of the practices we gleaned from that reading. Perhaps the most important idea is that the way we traditionally have taught vocabulary just doesn’t work. Students need more than dictionary definitions and memorization to learn new words. We also learned that wide and varied reading helps students expand their vocabularies but it’s not enough. Explicit instruction is necessary including these elements:

  • Making connections
  • Constructed definitions
  • Word Analysis
  • Repeated exposure and use
  • Discussions
  • Nonlinguistic representations
  • Word play

We looked at ways the applications on the MLTI MacBook as well as some online resources and tools can support vocabulary instruction. Please visit the recorded archives (mouse over the Webcasts tab above and click on Archives) to view these demonstrations and to download a copy of the slides with all the linked resources and the Bento template for creating a database for word study. If you use that template with your students, let us know how it goes and share any ideas you have for revising and improving it.

The chat pod was very busy, especially in the evening session, and participants shared a lot of great ideas for vocabulary study. I’ll list some of them here, but be sure to check out the recordings for more details:

  • http://wordsmith.org/awad/ will send the word of the day to your email.
  • Use wikis to collect words and images related to a unit.
  • Have students use text-to-speech when they come upon an unfamiliar word, combined with control-command-D for the pop up dictionary.
  • Becca’s “War of the Words” game where students compete to “own” the most words.
  • Word Ladder Wednesday with Tim Rasinski’s books
  • Have students create symbols, graphics, or pictures for new words.
  • Ask questions in book conferences that incorporate new words
  • Have students keep a running list of words they encounter that have the root or affix that is being studied.
  • Team members support each other and agree on root words to teach in all content areas.
  • Math word of the week and “Big Dog Word of the Day”
  • Use Frayer model for big concept words (sometimes with interactive white board)
  • Vocab words on exit slips
  • Two online tools for stickies: http://en.linoit.com/ and http://www.wallwisher.com/
  • The “I have… Who has…” activity based on this math activity
  • Vocaroo for voice recordings

Some books that Jill and I have read and referred to in this session include:

  • Allen, J. (2007). Inside words: Tools for teaching academic vocabulary, grades 4-12. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
  • Allen, J. (1999). Words, words, words: Teaching vocabulary in grades 4-12. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
  • Beck, I., McKeown, M., & Kucan, L. (2002). Robust vocabulary instruction: Bringing words to life. NY: Guilford Press.
  • Benjamin, A., & Crow, J. T. (2009). Vocabulary at the Center. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.
  • Graves, M. (Ed.) (2009). Essential readings on vocabulary instruction. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
  • Marzano, R. J. (2004). Building background knowledge for academic achievement: Research on what works in schools. Alexandra, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

And finally, Tim Hart sent me some additional sites for word play and word games that your students will enjoy. Thanks, Tim!

  1. Onurum
    December 20th, 2011 at 04:02 | #1

    I play this word game. I think a good game. I would recommend people who like brain teasers. http://www.orenglish.com/boggle/

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