Friday, July 12, 2013

Word Nerds Book Study: Chapter 5

 Once again I am linking up with Sabra from Teaching with a Touch of Twang for our summer book study of Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary. Don't forget you can preview the entire book online at Stenhouse and there is this handy little study guide you can use as well. 

I will offer some summary and overview of each chapter and put my thoughts and reflections in blue italics so you will know what is coming directly from me. To find all of my posts for the book study, click here

Chapter Five: Active Vocabulary Practice
This chapter is all about  ways to put vocabulary practice to practical use in the classroom! This is definitely a chapter that one must read in order to get anything out of it. A summary/synopsis just isn't going to cut it if you really want to get something out of it. Alas, I'll do my best to provide some helpful info.

Whole Group Practice Opportunities
By working together as a whole class to practice vocabulary, it creates a sense of community and team building amongst the students. Specifically, students become excited about the words they are learning and they want to share them with the other children who are learning them as well.

There are many activities listed for whole group practice:
1) Scramble - the teacher says scramble and students gather in a huddle based upon their word and its synonyms/antonyms.
2) Counting Dude, Bragging Dude - In a pair, students recite a 7-up sentence using their word. The counter counts to make sure they have at least 7 words and that the sentence sounds right. If it does, the Bragger can do a short victory cheer.
3) Word Charades - Students act out the words trying to get their classmates to guess what their word is
4) Vocabulary Rap - Rap with synonyms and antonyms using the starter, "When I say _____, you say _____"
5) Chain Link - A student explains the meaning of their word and other students try to make a connection to it. If they do, the students hook elbows and then another student tries to make a connection to one of the words in the chain until everyone is linked.

Small Group or Independent Practice Opportunities
Just as with the whole group, students working in small groups (or even on their own) to practice vocabulary learn from each other and reinforce the sense of community by working as a team. 

Here are some independent or small group practice ideas:
1) Vocabulary Board Games - Using board game templates, students land on a word and give the definition, a 7-up sentence, a synonym or an antonym for the word
2) Vocabulary Rings - Using index cards, students include word, illustration and definition on the card. These can be practiced anytime independently, in pairs or used for lining up (ie. if you have a word that means ______ line up"
3) Word Colors - Using index cards, students write the word on their card and then color around the word with one color. They must justify their color choice on the back of the card
4) Word Illustrations - Combine the word and a picture into a drawing to help retain meaning
5) PowerPoint Portrayals  - Using PowerPoint (or other media software), students create visuals for their word. They carefully select text, objects and sounds to help portray their word.

I really, really enjoyed this chapter! I love all of the specific examples of ways to get the students to practice, use and learn vocabulary. Better yet, many of them are really fun and I know my students this year would have enjoyed them immensely. I am going to make a rotation for my class so that we are using all of these strategies throughout the year to keep it interesting, engaging and fun for the kids so they don't get bored doing the same activity all of the time. I think the Vocabulary Rings is something I will use weekly because I love the idea of the kids having their own bank of vocabulary words (makes me think of the Ring of Knowledge that I'm so fond of with DDI). I can also see Counting Dude, Bragging Dude and the Vocabulary Rap being a weekly part of my vocabulary instruction.  
Stay tuned for Chapter 6 next week! 
The Caffeinated Teacher


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