Inviting students to adopt and utilize a rich vocabulary was one of my primary objectives as a sixth grade teacher. In this regard, I adopted (and experimented) with several strategies within the classroom--some time tested, some experimental. In the end, I felt as though my students excelled in their comfort with and use of vocabulary. Below are some of those strategies:
#1. An Interactive Word Wall
I created a 'bank' of words printed on coins that the students could use--not much )different from an everyday word wall, right? Well, the difference was that the wall was interactive. Each time I "caught" a student using one of the words, they were
invited to press the nose on the pig. Underneath the nose was a button that made an oinking sound. (A special thank you goes out to the stuffed pig that sacrificed it's life for this oinker)
Make a poster out of this image at: http://homokaasu.org/rasterbator/
#2. Words of the Week (W.O.W) Words
About 2 - 3 times a week, the student bellwork was vocabulary. A sentence was displayed on the Smartboard with the W.O.W. word underlined. The sentences contained context clues as an embedded skill for them to attempt to figure out what the word meant. After writing the sentence and making their prediction, we clicked a link to wordcentral.com and evaluated the definition, part of speech, clicked on the speaker to hear someone else say the word, came up with a group definition and looked at the word derivation (latin, greek, middle english). The students continued by creating a word association (an image or mnemonic), synonyms, antonyms and then write their own sentence with the word being sure to use a context clue within their own sentence. This worksheet is available at my scribd documents: http://www.scribd.com/doc/15792200/Saw
#3. Word Art
Occasionally, we had a word that elicited particular imagery for the students-one that they connected to quite well. In these cases, we had the students create word art for those images. Word art requires the students to write the vocabulary word in large letters on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper and then illustrate each letter of the word in a way that represents the meaning. The instructions for this activity area available at my scribd documents: http://www.scribd.com/doc/15792401/Word-Art
Special thanks to my colleague, Jillian Schneider, for this idea!
TECHNOLOGY CONNECTION: I recently discovered wordahead.com which allows, in a technological way, what I've been doing on paper all of this time. My objective next year is to take the students word art images and upload/share them on wordahead.com.
#4. I Used It Slips.
Each week, I would allow students to write up an example of a vocabulary word that they used in their everyday lives (or found in their pleasure reading books). On fridays, five winning slips were drawn and students would share the word and the sentence/situation in which they used it or found it. These slips are available at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/15792348/Wow-Bookmark-Only
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