Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ideas for Anyone Teaching Vocabulary (so every teacher ever!)

My school set reading comprehension as our academic focus areas this year, and I was tasked with introducing some reading comprehension strategies to my colleagues they might use with their students. I immediately thought of Marzano's vocabulary process as a painless introductory strategy. Nothing is more frustrating than a student's lack of comprehension or success because he or she doesn't understand the question or the prompt. As a former French teacher, I had already amassed an arsenal of fun vocabulary activities, so sharing was easy! Here's the introduction I offered my colleagues, with plenty of digital resources for our 1:1 Chromebooks!

Marzano’s Six-Step Vocabulary Process 

(note--it’s important to do ALL SIX steps!)

1. Provide a description, explanation, or example of the new term.

  • Looking up words in dictionaries is not the most useful way to learn vocab
  • Provide a context for the term
  • Introduce direct experiences that provide examples of the term
  • Tell a story that integrates the term
  • Use video to aid in processing and internalizing meaning
  • Describe your own mental picture of the term
  • Find or create pictures that explain the term

2. Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words.

  • Monitor and correct misunderstandings
  • Important that STUDENTS create this understanding rather than copying teacher or book models

3. Ask students to construct a picture, symbol, or graphic representing the word.

  • Model, model, model--even if you're not the best artist!
  • Provide examples of student’s drawings (and your own) that aren't perfect--maybe even attempt to improve upon them!
  • Play “Pictionary”
  • Make a comic, by hand or online with a tool like Pixton or makebeliefscomix
  • We like to do steps 2+3 on our dry erase painted desks! We use our Chromebooks to snap quick pictures of them and compile them on Google Slides presentations.

4. Engage students periodically in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms.

  • Highlight prefixes, suffixes, root words to aid in decoding and memory
  • Identify synonyms and antonyms for the term
  • List related/unrelated words 
  • Translate the term into another language for second language students
  • Write incomplete analogies for students to complete
  • Allow students to write (or draw) their own analogies (Connect Two Example)
  • Sort or classify words

5. Periodically ask students to discuss the terms with one another.Think-Pair-Share

  • Yes-No-Why (Example)
  • Compare their descriptions of the term
  • Describe their pictures to one another
  • Students share their own connections or mnemonic devices 
  • Explain to each other any new information they have learned (Aha Moments)
  • Identify areas of disagreement or confusion and seek clarification
  • Allow students to revise their own work
My students love to play Kahoot!

6. Involve students periodically in games to play with, recycle, and review terms.

  • That’s Sketchy (Pictionary)
  • Puzzles
  • Vocabulary Baseball (Teacher predetermines single, double, triple, and home run words, bonus if students actually "run" the bases!)
  • Memory (time students, beat themselves or each other)
  • Jeopardy (vocab words are on the board, players make up a question to define)
  • Charades
  • Vocabulary Battleship
  • Name the Category ($100,000 Pyramid)
  • Password
  • Catch Phrase
  • Bingo (teacher gives definition, students mark the words)
  • Create a skit (assign groups of 3-4 kids 3 vocab words include in a skit)
  • Flyswatter Game (show images representing the words or the words themselves all on 1 image, kids on 2 teams compete to find words first when teacher reads the definition and swat with fly-swatter)
  • Arcade style games
  • Pac Man Game 
  • Kahoot
  • Socrative Space Race
What would you add to the list? I'd love to hear your fun vocabulary games and activities that have proven successful with students!