Thursday, August 1, 2013

Word Nerds Book Study: Chapter 8


 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 8: Learning Through Assessment
 In this final chapter, the authors take a look at how we can use formative as well as summative assessments throughout each vocabulary cycle to help us to guide our vocabulary instruction just like we would with any other type of lesson we are using. Data drives instruction.

How do you plan for vocabulary assessment? The authors provide four important guidelines (as cited by Bean and Swan Dagen, 2006).
1. Think about the goals and purposes of the assessment
2. Use authentic measures of vocabulary progress
3. Plan to assess for depth of understanding
4. Be aware of comprehension connections

The authors provide an awesome Vocabulary Cycle Plan on pages 124-125 for using assessments throughout the vocabulary cycle. The best part is, they break it up for a 5 day vocabulary cycle and a 10 day vocabulary cycle. 
I really appreciate the two versions of this plan because we have vocabulary that we are required to teach within our Reading Street curriculum. Some of it is fluff that could be let go without hurting anything but the vast majority of the words actually fit into the realm of the kinds of words you would want to use in a vocabulary cycle--words that are useful in life and across curriculum domains.

Formative Assessments
There are many types of formative assessments that can be use throughout the vocabulary cycle to help teachers keep tabs (daily) on student progress with the current words.
Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down -- use while introducing words and studying synonyms and antonyms

Observations -- observation is a useful strategy when students are engaged in Counting Dude, Bragging Dude; Scramble; Vocabulary Rap; Line It Up; Crystal Ball Words; Word Charades; Chain Link and during review

Analyzing Student Work -- reviewing vocabulary journals; vocabulary rings; word illustrations, word colors, powerpoint portrayals

Questioning -- Useful with all activities and with whiteboards

Student Generated Questions --  during board games, review games and celebrations

Summative Vocabulary Assessment
The authors mirror their cloze activity that they use at the start of each vocabulary cycle to make their summative assessments. These assessments are designed to mimic the type of vocabulary work students will see on standardized tests. The teacher creates a passage about the learning that has taken place during the week, using the vocabulary words from the vocabulary cycle. Students read through the passage and use their vocabulary knowledge and context clues to fill in the passage with the correct vocabulary words.

Eventually, if appropriate, the students can create their own vocabulary assessment with a passage (often written as a letter to the teacher) using the words from that vocabulary cycle to show that they know the words and how to use them.

I LOVE this idea because the weekly test we are required to do with Reading Street has vocabulary questions in isolation and my students always do very poorly on those. I'm interested to see how this would work if they had this passage-style vocabulary assessment first so that they could see the words in a better, more familiar context. I can't wait to experiment with this and see if it makes a difference in the vocabulary achievement of my class.

Finally the authors provide a chart of vocabulary filled in with a rubric-style key and the other blank for filling in students' names. This provides an easy way for teachers (especially those who are just beginning to use vocabulary in this way) to help track where their students are with their vocabulary use and knowledge.

 Believe it or not, this is the end of the book study! I am SO SO glad that I decided to read this book this summer. I have such big plans for using these strategies in my class for 2013-2014. In fact, using the strategies from Word Nerds is one of my goals for 2013-2014 for my yearly evaluation. I am PUMPED to get my first couple of vocabulary cycles planned so that I can think about how this is going to actually look in my classroom. I can't wait! Thanks for joining me on this amazing journey!
The Caffeinated Teacher

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