Saturday, September 3, 2011

Expand Your Vocabulary: an easy, effective approach

Choice is good.

Choosing the words you want to learn is more effective than having someone else choose them for you.
  • Choice provides motivation.
  • Choice increases meaningfulness.
Choice can even be provided with required, necessary vocabulary; for instance, twenty words can be provided, of which twelve are chosen.

Here are the procedures I use at school for my individualized reading program.
  1. I give each student a book mark, a 3x5 index card cut in half by its length.
  2. Students, as they read, write down words they don't know (or wish to know better) on the card, including the page number.
  3. Later, they look the word up.
  4. I have them provide the following information on a 3x5: word, appropriate definition, sentence from book (may be shortened), word used in their own sentence. This allows me to provide feedback.
What if the book is easy and the reader finds no words? 

For the classroom, a student just offered a great solution yesterday: go to one of our recently-read stories we shared in class. Yesterday it was an excerpt from Frederick Douglass's My Bondage and My Freedom. The students felt this was a much better idea than using a vocabulary-builder textbook, where the words and exercises are all provided by the book.

Also, this is a great opportunity to suggest a more challenging book for the reader.

This method isn't new. I've used it for so long I've forgotten its source. Established, effective teaching practices should be shared, though, not hoarded.

Try it: you might find it efficacious.

Copyright 2011 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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