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Vocabulary Teaching Strategies

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Sarah Michet

on 17 July 2014

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Transcript of Vocabulary Teaching Strategies

Vocabulary Teaching Strategies
What does it mean to teach vocabulary at the middle school level?
Teaching vocabulary at the middle school level is an essential part of being a middle school teacher, no matter the content area. At this level, students are introduced to more complex content and therefore more specific vocabulary instruction is required for understanding. Words that describe specific content area knowledge, known as "academic vocabulary" are challenging for students to comprehend unless teachers deliberately instruct students in developing understanding of these types of words (Miller & Veatch, 2012). Furthermore, teaching vocabulary in middle school is necessary for students to develop the required vocabulary needed to be successful in high school and beyond.
vocab strategy #1:
Miller and Veatch (2012) state that students should be taught vocabulary in authentic, genuine methods that allow students to make deep connections amongst words. Simply giving students a weekly vocabulary list of random words to memorize and later be tested on is not an effective method to teach vocabulary. Recent research now recommends students engage with vocabulary words in genuine, complex ways (Adler, 2014). For instance, semantic mapping, otherwise known as graphic organizers, is one example of teaching vocabulary in a meaningful context because they allow the student to "visually display the meaning-based connections between a word or phrase and a set of related words or concepts (Zorfass, Gray, & Power Up What Works, 2014)." Content area teachers have a great opportunity to teach related words in meaningful contexts because of the fact the area of teaching is a specific discipline, with many new vocabulary words to introduce to students.
by Sarah Michet
EEC 528 - Dr. Piowlski

This strategy is a three step process that asks students to use their prior knowledge to create understanding of new vocabulary words or concepts. It is especially helpful as a pre-reading exercise. The Adlit.org website has a good overview of the List-Group-Label strategy and offers downloadable files to use in the classroom.
Vocabulary Rating
This strategy asks students to rate their vocabulary knowledge before, during, and after content reading. Monitoring vocabulary is helpful for students to "reflect upon their vocabulary knowledge and note their developing understanding (Miller & Veatch, 2012, p. 23)." The Prentice Hall eTeach website has a good overview of this strategy and downloadable files to use in the classroom.
internet resource #1
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Concept Sort
This strategy fosters meaningful cotext when teaching new vocabulary because it asks students to categorize related words under a more general "umbrella" term. It can be used either before teaching the new vocab to give the teacher an idea of how much students already understand, and it can also be used after reading as an assessment tool. It is especially helpful for ELL students. Read Write Think has a good overview of Concept Sort:
internet resource #3
Semantic Mapping / Graphic Organizers
The Power Up What Works website has a great article on semantic mapping, with a set of very clear instructions to give students, how to incorporate this strategy into teaching, technology resources to create different types of semantic maps, and links to research that back up the use of semantic mapping in the classroom.
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Vocabulary Visits Using Trackstar
The concept of realia, which refers to using real objects or experiences as a way to build understanding of ideas, words, or concepts (Moore & Veatch, 2012), can easily be used in the classroom through the online Trackstar program. Trackstar allows the teacher to create a virtual field trip for students by taking them on a "journey."
internet resource #5
Teaching words in a meaningful context
To demonstrate the vocabulary strategy of teaching words in a meaningful context, I chose a video that explains the List-Group-Label method. It's a great combination of a professional explanation along with a real, in-classroom demonstration of the strategy.
video demonstration
Teach Words in a Meaningful Context
vocab strategy #2:
Word Walls is a vocabulary strategy that helps to teach groups of related words aligned to instructional units. Moore et al. (2011) state that "teaching sets of unit-based words presents your students conceptually related items that are linked in meaningful networks (p.128)." It is important to visually display sets of related words on a Word Wall in the classroom so that students may see and refer to them often throughout the instructional unit. There are many different ways teachers can have students interact with the Word Wall, including displaying the words organized in a chart or web format, posted with pictures or illustrations that allude to the definition of the word, in a more simple format with the words written large and clear in black marker on bright colored backgrounds,or even creating digital, web-based Word Walls (Moore et al., 2011; Reading Rockets, n.d.). Furthermore, Word Walls should not be used merely as decoration in the classroom, but rather they should be "memorable, useful, practical, hands-on, space efficient, and suited to meet the needs of the students and content being studied (Miller & Veatch, 2012, p. 21)."
Word Walls
Reading Rockets Word Wall Strategies
The Reading Rockets strategy guide about Word Walls - explains why they're an important resource in the classroom, how to create and use them, includes many different examples, as well as differentiated instruction examples, research, etc.
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Top Tips for Word Walls - 26 Ideas and 7 Pictures
A fantastic resource with great ideas, photos, and a downloadable .pdf file.
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10 Great Word Wall Strategies for Classrooms
A nice description of different types of word walls, for example, unit word walls, standardized test word walls, etc.
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Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus
A fantastic web application that lets the user create word maps and explore word meanings through branches to related words. This would be a great website for students to look up words on a word wall to create deep understandings of definitions, and perhaps even make their own "mini" word wall in their notebooks, based on a single word from the classroom word wall.
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Digital Word Walls
Two interesting websites that allow teachers to create digital, interactive word walls for students:

ThingLink allows the user to create interactive image walls. For example, I could create a digital collage of images where each image represents a different vocabulary word and clicking on the image will bring up the definition or another image that helps to define the word. Looks fun. http://www.thinglink.com

Padlet (formally called WallWisher) is a virtual bulletin board. This link is a great example of students practicing vocabulary by creating their own sentence using a particular word and then posting it, sort of like a virtual sentence wall. http;//padlet.com/coffeebite/1rbmyjr47x
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Word Walls
Illustrated Word Wall: This is a great video showing students defining a word by creating an image representing its meaning. Then, all images are posted together to create a class word wall. I will definitely use this idea!
video demonstration
Teacher Training Video for Padlet (formerally Wallwisher):
vocab strategy #3:
Research: Making handmade artist books is a wonderful activity in the art classroom. Not only do students get to explore various art materials and techniques, but it is also a fantastic activity to practice vocabulary, reading, and writing skills. Moore et al. (2011) states that "word books are powerful devices for analyzing, recording, and reviewing the new vocabulary encountered in activity classes (p. 152)." Handmade artist books are also a great way to collaborate with teachers of other disciplines to make cross-curricular content come alive for students.
ABC Bookmaking Builds Vocabulary in the Content Areas
Read Write Think has a great lesson plan and guide to making ABC books in the content areas. It includes an overview and a link to an interactive online app called Alphabet Organizer.
internet resource #1
Beyond the Book Report: 10 Alternatives
Edutopia's Elena Aguilar describes ten alternative forms of the dreaded book report. In these ideas, students are given creative license to illustrate and think critically. Many of these ideas can be used in the art classroom as a way to demonstrate and illustrate understanding of art vocabulary.
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Funky Illuminated Fairy Tales
This unit is an exciting introduction to the world of creating illuminated manuscripts (illustrated text). Though it is written for upper elementary students, it would be easily adapted for the middle school art classroom, especially if I give them a list of grade-appropriate vocabulary words to choose from. It includes lessons and a link to an online list of the museum's photographs of beautiful illuminated manuscripts to show students.
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Student Interactive: Stapleless Book
Read Write Think created an app that allows students to create all the illustrations and text needed for a fabulous stapleless handmade book. Even though it's online, I appreciate that students are able to "draw" images to accompany their text.
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Ten Great Web Tools to Create e-Books for Your Classroom
Students these days love technology. As an art teacher, I of course love getting our hands dirty and experiencing real materials. However, this annotated list of interactive, online bookmaking tools will sure come in handy when my materials budget is gone!
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Model Word Wonder
By communicating and modeling a love for and fascination of words, teachers can pass this wonderment on to their students. Take Our Word For It is an amazing website dedicated to the etymology, or the history and development of words. I think it could be strategically used in the classroom to promote word wonder.
internet resource #1
Model Sophisticated Vocabulary Use
By consciously choosing higher level, sophisticated words to use in the classroom, teachers can have a great impact on expanding the breadth and depth of students' vocabulary. This link is to the article,
The Vocabulary-Rich Classroom: Modeling Sophisticated Word Use to Promote Word Consciousness and Vocabulary Growth
(Lane & Allen, 2010). Within the article are two fantastic resources: Table 1. Sophisticated words to use during classroom routines; and Table 2. Sophisticated Words to Use When Discussing Classroom Behavior or Performance
internet resource #2
Vocabulary Cards
The National Writing Project website has a wonderful article written by a teacher who has explored several strategies for promoting word consciousness in her classroom. One is called Vocabulary Cards - the student receives a complicated word to dissect into its prefix, root, and suffix and then illustrate not the direct meaning of the word itself, but rather the visual concept the word.
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A Way With Words
This is an amazing website for a "public radio program about language examined through history, culture, and family." Not only can you listen to podcasts of the radio show, but the accompanying website has great, interesting articles that promote word consciousness.
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Guidelines for Word Selection
This article, published by the Reading First in Virginia professional development team, is a great guide to help teachers figure out just what words should be taught to their students. It describes several helpful strategies along with explaining the Tier I, II, and III word categories.
internet resource #5
Word clouds are fun activities for students to create online. There are countless ways to incorporate them into the classroom, but one example I'd like to try is have students create a Word Cloud Word Wall using art vocabulary. Though I discovered several word cloud building sites, I particularly like Wordle.
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Vocab Ahead
Vocab Ahead is a website that pairs vocabulary words with short videos that help describe their meanings, and also offers quizzes and games. It is also easily customizable by the teacher to target a specific group of words.
internet resource #2
Free Rice
Free Rice is an awesome website that pairs learning vocabulary with an incentive. For every word meaning the user gets correct, it donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. Fun!
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Standford University's Wordsift app allows the user to enter a piece of text and then it shows an image of how frequently certain words appear in the text and which words are academic vocabulary. It also provides a visual thesaurus for the words and images associates with the words' meanings. It is a great tool for doing pre-reading with students.
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Word Games
This website offers a plethora of vocabulary word games. It would be a great resource for a warm-up activity or as a tool for students to use if they finish classwork early, for example.
internet resource #5
Wordle and Wordsift
This video is a fantastic introduction to two of my word play resources, Wordle and Wordsift. It describes how they work and offers strategies for use in the classroom.
video demonstration
How-to guides to making various book structures
additional internet resources
How to Fold a Stapleless Book
Read Write Think has a great video demonstrating how to make a "stapleless book." I like how there is a student who is following along with the teacher, and the instructions make sense to her!
video demonstration
vocab strategy #4:
Research: Word consciousness is the idea that teaching students the potential of words as units of language and the key to expressing oneself, they will develop an interest in learning new words. Moore et al. (2011) state that "youth who are conscious of words willingly note their presence in different settings, analyze their distinctive spellings and meanings, judge whether certain ones are more appropriate than others in particular situations, and generally appreciate the power and wonder of language (p. 134)." Furthermore, developing vocabulary skills and promoting word consciousness is especially important for narrowing the achievement gap because students who come to school with a smaller vocabulary need extra attention in this regard in order to "catch up" to their higher-level peers (Lane & Allen, 2010). This section will explore ways to increase word consciousness in students.
Promote Word Consciousness
vocab strategy #5:
Research: Most teachers know that students love to play games - they love the excitement, the competitiveness, and the social aspect of it. "Word play is a motivating way to position youth as active manipulators of words, as being conscious of words (Moore et al., 2011)." There are countless different ways to incorporate games and word play into the classroom, and vocabulary instruction and review is one of them.
Word Play!
Alber, R. (2014, January 16).
Doing it Differently: Tips for Teaching Vocabulary
. Retrieved July 11, 2014, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/vocabulary-instruction-teaching-tips-rebecca-alber

Lane, H., and Allen, S. (2010, February).
The Vocabulary-Rich Classroom: Modeling Sophisticated Word Use to Promote Word Consciousness and Vocabulary Growth.
Retrieved July 13, 2014, from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/40991

Miller, M., & Veatch, N. (2012). Literacy in Context (LinC): Choosing Instructional Strategies to Teach Reading in Content Areas for Students Grades 5-12. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Moore, D., Moore, S., Cunningham, P., & Cunningham, J. (2011). Developing Readers and Writers in the Content Areas K-12. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Reading Rockets. (n. d.).
Word Walls
. Retrieved July 11, 2014, from http://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/word_walls

Zorfass, J., Gray, T., & Power Up What Works. (2014).
Connecting Word Meanings Through Semantic Mapping
. Retrieved July 11, 2014, from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/connecting-word-meanings-through-semantic-mapping

Word-Conscious Classrooms
Best Practices Weekly published a video of a teacher explaining the latest research in promoting word conscious classrooms. He gives a great description of how to introduce more descriptive vocabulary when giving names to classroom routines. By following his advice, you can make your classroom into a "word workshop."
video demonstration

Works Cited
Full transcript