As this year is winding down, we are thinking about things to change or add for next year. One of the biggest roadblocks in reading is vocabulary. I originally posted this on Adventures in Literacy Land. I’m hoping these ideas make you rethink vocabulary instruction in your room next year.
Anchor Charts/Prediction Posters
I am a big fan of Anchor Charts.
Done the right way, anchor charts are invaluable to your students.
Anchor charts can be pre-made but must also allow for editing, if an unsuspected word misunderstanding occurs.
Pre-assessing a book for vocabulary roadblocks is a must.
Pulling out words you believe will create “comprehension potholes” or “run the story off the road” are a must for a successful Read Aloud.
Before reading a book, introduce words to your students out of context. Talk about the meaning. Demonstrate the meaning. Discuss how this particular word might be in this book.
You may even want to read the sentence from the story. Preparing for vocabulary can help students spend time on higher order thinking than on the meaning of a single word. One type of anchor chart is the Story Map.
Words from the story, both common and new, can be written on post-it notes given to the students before they read the book.
Students will predict if the words belong on the map in provided spaces: Characters, Setting, Actions (verbs), Things (nouns) and New to You.
If they encounter a word while reading that needs to be moved on the chart…they can easily be moved.
I actually LOVE text gradients.
Typically, text gradients are used in the upper elementary but every kindergarten teacher has tried to get her student’s to use words more descriptive than small or big.
The famous “said is dead” refrain is heard in every first grade class.
So, let’s talk primary text gradients.
A wonderful way “add color” to writing is using paint strips. (I live in fear of paint strips eventually costing money.)
The paint strips can be put in library pockets in the writing center and students can take a color strip to make their elephant “enormous” or their ladybug “tiny.”
Providing students with diagrams is a great way to introduce vocabulary that is both familiar and unknown.
When studying about bats, my students were excited to learn bats had thumbs.
They look very different from our thumbs, but they are still thumbs.
They were also intrigued by the membranes in their wings.
We compared the membranes to duck’s feet.
We even found out turtles, otters and some reptiles have webbed feet. Diagrams draw the student in and help them write about animals and make comparisons.
Finally, Act it Out
When we were preparing to read The Knight Before Dawn, I introduced some words to the students before we read.
One of the words was “precipice.” I needed to relate Jack dangling from a precipice on the castle tower to the students in my class.
First, I showed them pictures of large cliffs in the desert or on mountains.
Then, we went to the playground.
The only cliff they really knew about was the playground equipment. One at a time, the students went to the edge of the playground equipment and they yelled, “I AM ON THE PRECIPICE!” Then they were allowed to jump off the “cliff.” Trust me they all knew what a precipice was and when Jack was hanging from the precipice they could anticipate his falling! That’s the power of vocabulary!
These are just a few ways you can make sure to introduce children to wonderful vocabulary words they can use to write, make connections, and understand.