Ingenious Ideas for Teaching Vocabulary
If students learned vocabulary by seeing a word and a definition once, every teacher would have a much easier job. Class, however, would be more tedious. There would be no opportunity for interaction and no reason to make connections.
Fortunately, that’s not how learning works.
Students need explicit instruction in vocabulary. When you teach vocabulary words directly, you help your students acquire meaning and understanding as they add words to their repertoire.
Teaching vocabulary ought to be easy, fun, and effective. It is, with these teaching tips.
Selecting which words will become part of a vocabulary can be done in several ways. Although textbooks identify essential words for lessons, try these techniques for identifying vocabulary words and ranking them.
Students may be familiar with vocabulary words but not sure of the definition. Have your students group vocabulary words into categories of words they know, those they recognize, and those they haven’t seen before.
You can also ask your students to identify words they think the class might need to know, or have them maintain a personal list of vocabulary words on a paper bookmark.
Another way to categorize and rank words is through tiers, similar to those used in response to intervention. Tier 1 words are common words that usually require no instruction (chair, desk, window). Tier 2 consists of academic vocabulary used in multiple subjects (predict, evaluate, infer). Tier 3 words are topic-specific (Renaissance, Paleolithic, thermonuclear).
Combine the words your students identified with words from tiers 2 and 3 to develop your list of vocabulary words.
Roots, prefixes, and suffixes
Students benefit form learning root words, prefixes, and suffixes because they can then decipher the meanings of unfamiliar words.
Teachers have long used graphic organizers to help students understand word meaning, and word maps are another way to clarify meaning. Have students define the word, give examples and non-examples.
Take vocabulary analysis further by developing word clouds. Word clouds consist of groups of similar words. Words can be grouped by roots, prefixes, or suffixes. They can be made of words that are synonyms, proper nouns, or any other characteristic chosen.
You might be tempted to avoid playing games, but playfulness improves memory. Games make learning vocabulary words fun. There are many ways to involve students in vocabulary acquisition.
Help your student internalize their vocabulary words by asking them to experience their words tactically or kinesthetically. Have students draw their vocabulary words or act them out.
Matching and fill-in-the-blank
Matching words can be a powerful strategy, mainly because there are so many variations. Students can match words with definitions, pictures, synonyms, antonyms. To expand their understanding of vocabulary, use poems and songs for fill-in-the-blank exercises.
Continue making learning vocabulary a fun and challenging experience. Take advantage of some of the online sites devoted to vocabulary instruction. If you’re looking for opportunities to involve older students in vocabulary games, consider customizing a crossword puzzle or Jeopardy game.
Your students will benefit from the varied ways you provide direct vocabulary instruction. The connections they make while interacting with each other will help them learn new words