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Best Practices in Vocabulary Instruction: Modified Self-Selected Vocabulary in Action Wendy Otto Pliska, Hamilton School District

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Presentation on theme: "Best Practices in Vocabulary Instruction: Modified Self-Selected Vocabulary in Action Wendy Otto Pliska, Hamilton School District"— Presentation transcript:

1 Best Practices in Vocabulary Instruction: Modified Self-Selected Vocabulary in Action Wendy Otto Pliska, Hamilton School District

2 Introducing the kids… This activity takes place in my Freshman Seminar class. This is a freshman study skills/reading course open to at-risk freshmen based on recommendations from 8 th grade teachers and counselors. Students generally struggle with organization, study skills, and reading, but are usually not EEN, although some are ELL My class size varies from per semester

3 Goals of the Program Help students to regain self-awareness when they don’t understand a word Give students choice Expose students to unfamiliar words Teach students vocabulary acquisition strategies they can use on their own in other classes Help students think metacognitively about their own vocabulary learning

4 Goals of the Program, continued Teach students the difference between memorizing a definition and understanding a word Create vocabulary assessments that go beyond knowledge and comprehension questions Encourage students to use their new words in other contexts/classes Get students excited about new words!

5 The first part last: the results Every semester, approximately 100 of our new vocabulary words are included in the final exam Results: Spring 2009 (16 total students in class) Average final exam score = 89% correct 1 student earned 100% 3 students earned 99% 2 students earned 97% Fall 2008 (14 total students in class) Average final exam score = 91% correct 1 student earned 100% 1 student earned 99% 3 students earned 98%

6 What do we do? Weekly schedule Thursdays: Each student contributes 3 new words Fridays: All words go on board; we discuss, vote, and discuss our six “winners” Mondays: 6 flashcards are due (one for each new word) Tuesdays: 6 word boxes are due (one for each word) Wednesdays: Vocab Review Game Thursdays: Take Weekly Quiz, bring 3 new words

7 Thursdays: 3 New Word Sheets

8 Fridays: Voting on New Words Take photo of words on board and import

9 Mondays: 6 Flashcards due Take photos and import

10 Tuesdays: Word Boxes due

11 Key Elements of Word Boxes Rate Your Knowledge: K - I know it; H - I have a hunch what it means; S - I’ve seen it but I don't know it; and N - I've never seen it before today. Helps student reflect upon their own understanding of the word Also helps dispel the idea that you either know a word or you don’t (Buehl, 2005)

12 Key Elements of Word Boxes Identify Part of Speech – helps to eliminate misuse of words within sentences Common Context and Usage – helps students identify words that are usually only used in a certain context (i.e. legitimate is often used when discussing legal issues)

13 Key Elements of Word Boxes Meaning and Examples When discussing words with students, I actively discourage them from just writing down the dictionary definition Instead, talking about how a word is used, examples, synonyms, characteristics, etc., can help a student gain a more mature understanding of the word (Buehl, 2009, p176)

14 Key Elements of Word Boxes Two-Part Create Your Own Sentence: First… Who would use this word? This helps students think about actual word usage Using this prompt first helps avoid bland, vague sentences (i.e., “Bob is legitimate”) Next… How would s/he use this word? Students then write a sentence from the point of view of the speaker they’ve identified (Buehl, 2009, p177)

15 Key Elements of Word Boxes Identifying the context clues in the student- generated sentence helps students focus on: Creating specific, descriptive sentences What context clues are

16 Side Note on Assessment Policy Inspired by the work of Ken O’Connor (How to Grade for Learning), I have a No-Zeroes, No-Excuses homework policy If a student does not have his or her vocabulary practice work done on time, s/he will owe me the time it takes to complete the work. This can be after class, during lunch, and/or after school. This guarantees that students complete the formative work needed to learn words This policy also trains students to do their work; since they will be completing it anyway, they are much more likely to get it done on time In addition, I only include summative assessments (weekly vocabulary quizzes) in the grade book… this allows students to take risks and make mistakes on the practice (formative) work without being afraid of bad grades

17 Wednesdays: Vocabulary Review Most Popular and Easiest = Vocab Bingo Simply have students write one vocabulary word in each square You read off definitions, examples, synonyms, etc… and if a student has that word, they mark it off Helps students review words in a fun way!

18 Wednesdays: Vocabulary Review Another option: Vocab Battleship This is played in a similar way to the board game Battleship Students use a manila file folder as their game board On the top flap, students “hide” their words (one per box) On the bottom flap, students guess at the location of their opponent’s words If a student finds one of her opponent’s words, she must be able to correctly give the definition of the word in order to gain the point Teacher or extra student can be the mediator

19 Additional Vocabulary Review Quizlet is a great, free website teachers and students can use to create vocabulary review lists I create a cumulative word list (with definitions) that students can log in to and use to review

20 Thursdays: Weekly Vocabulary Quiz Each weekly quiz contains 20 questions: 8 “Knowledge” questions (fill in the blank) 6 “Application” questions (“Connect Two” sentences) [Buehl, 2009, p ] 6 “Analysis” questions (simple analogies) Students are given a word bank Any of the words from our cumulative list may appear on the quiz; students do not know ahead of time which ones will be on the quiz

21 FAQ’s Q: What if kids only pick the easy words? A: Most kids are pretty honest; individual low- achievers conference with the teacher A: Most students rise to the challenge; they actually enjoy stumping the teacher! A: See the Spring 2009 Cumulative Word List (next slide)

22 Spring 2009 Cumulative Word List  Amanuensis  Angst  Attentive  Autopsy  Barb  Barrack  Benign  Besotted  Blunt  Bombardment  Bravado  Caliber  Canvas  Catacombs  Celtic  Chasm  Cleft  Contemplate  Creatine  Culpable  Debonair  Dilapidated  Discrimination  Dreary  Duct  Dumbfounded  Egregious  Emaciation  Euphoric  Exasperating  Exorbitant  Extemporaneous  Falsetto  Feeble  Flippantly  Flirtatious  Foe  Foreboding  Fracas  Frivolous  Frolic  Gala  Grisly  Haggle  Haughty  Heatedly  Heifer  Herculean  Idiosyncrasy  Holistically  Incredulous  Indecipherable  Inebriated  Insubordinate  Intrigued  Irascible  Jape  Kamikaze  Keen  Kosher  Lieutenant  Loquacious  Luscious  Malarkey  Maul  Murky  Narcissistic  Nil  Notorious  Nymph  Oblivion  Palindrome  Penitentiary  Picturesque  Platoon  Pansy  Paranormal  Promiscuous  Prude  Quizzical  Reap  Redundant  Regimen  Rendezvous  Revulsion  Ribald  Saccharine  Salacious  Savvy  Seductive  Serene  Sexagenarian  Slay  Telekinetic  Thrum  Torrid  Twilight  Unmoor  Unrequited  Vague  Vandal  Yiddish

23 FAQ’s, cont’d Q: How could you adapt this to multiple sections of a course (so that a teacher doesn’t have to create multiple new quizzes every week)? A: My suggestion would be to let each class contribute 2 words to the cumulative list, and all classes are quizzed on the same list

24 FAQ’s, cont’d Q: Why does this work? A: Several reasons: Students must complete multiple formative (practice) activities, so they are learning and reviewing words several days/week The word list is cumulative, so students don’t merely memorize, test, and forget In class, we focus on talking about a word and using it in multiple ways, not just writing down the definition

25 References Buehl, D. (2005, June). Learning vocabulary in context. In Reading room. Retrieved October 8, 2009, from Wisconin Education Association Council website: 2005/‌read_context.aspx Buehl, D. (2009). Connect two. In Classroom strategies for interactive learning (3rd ed., pp ). Newark, DE: International Reading Association. Buehl, D. (2009). Student-friendly vocabulary explanations. In Classroom strategies for interactive learning (3rd ed., pp ). Newark, DE: International Reading Association. O’Connor, K. (2002). How to grade for learning: Linking grades to standards. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Rosenbaum, C. (2001, September). A word map for middle school: A tool for effective vocabulary instruction. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(1), Retrieved from EBSCOhost database. Ruddell, M. R., & Shearer, B. A. (2002, February). “Extraordinary,” “tremendous,” “exhilarating,” “magnificent”: Middle school at-risk students become avid word learners with the Vocabulary Self-Collection Strategy (VSS). Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(5), Retrieved from EBSCOhost database.


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