Vocabulary Matters: 5 More Strategies for New Words

  • Post published:April 3, 2024
  • Post category:Vocabulary
Vocabulary Matters: 5 More Strategies for New Words

Vocabulary lays the cornerstone of effective communication and comprehension in education, making it an essential focus for educators seeking to empower their students with language proficiency.

In the quest to enrich young minds with a robust use of language, educators often turn to a repertoire of strategies designed to cultivate vocabulary acquisition in engaging and meaningful ways.

From List-Group-Label and Text Gradients with Emotions to Predict-o-gram Graphic Organizers, the Frayer Model, and the melodic approach of Sing About It, there exists a treasure trove of methods to unlock the potential of new words.

In this blog post, let’s explore each of these strategies in detail, shedding light on their unique benefits and practical applications in the classroom.

Just recently I presented at the VSLA Conference in Norfolk, VA about Vocabulary. I heard from so many teachers that they needed ideas for introducing new vocabulary to students.

Join us on a journey to elevate vocabulary instruction and empower learners with the linguistic tools they need to thrive.

Vocabulary Matters: 5 More Strategies for New Words

List – Group – Label: Vocabulary Sorting

Vocabulary Matters: 5 More Strategies for New Words

One effective method to introduce and expand vocabulary is through the List-Group-Label strategy.

Start by presenting a list of related words to your students, such as “school.” Encourage them to work together to group these words based on common characteristics like “use at school” or “big items.”

Divide the students into groups and let them decide how to group the words. You can also encourage a “?” category (meaning it might not fit in the labels).

Finally, help them label each group. This strategy not only enhances vocabulary but also strengthens critical thinking and categorization skills.

Text Gradients: Vocabulary with emotions

Using text gradients to add emotion to stories with K-2 students can be a wonderfully engaging and imaginative experience.

By incorporating this visual element, young learners are not only captivated by the colorful display but also encouraged to connect with the emotions depicted in the narrative.

As words transition from one hue to another, conveying the shifts in mood or intensity, children are prompted to explore and articulate their feelings about the story in a dynamic and interactive way.

Vocabulary Matters: 5 More Strategies for New Words

This multisensory approach not only enhances their understanding of the text but also fosters creativity and empathy as they navigate through the emotional landscape of the story.

Additionally, it provides a platform for discussions about emotions, empathy, and perspective-taking, all crucial aspects of social-emotional learning for young minds. Through the use of text gradients, storytelling becomes a vibrant journey that sparks curiosity, empathy, and a deeper appreciation for the power of words and emotions.

If you’d like more details about text gradients, make sure you check out this post: Vocabulary Gradients and 3 Teaching Lessons for Shades of Meaning.

predict-o-gram: comprehension and vocabulary

Vocabulary Matters: 5 More Strategies for New Words

A Predict-o-gram is an activity developed and adapted from Johns and Lenski’s Improving Reading: Strategies and Resources (2001).

It starts with a group of words relating to a book.

Students sort the words and use them to make predictions about the story and how the author uses the words in the story.

Students are also introduced to new words.

When teachers use a chart to develop the vocabulary whole group, students can refer back to the chart and make changes as they read the book.

Vocabulary Matters: 5 More Strategies for New Words

Two new words are highlighted and explicitly taught. Finally, the students make a prediction about the story. Once the story is read, students return to the Predict-o-Gram and check for understanding.

Using a consistent organizer for vocabulary discussion and making predictions can solidify understanding. If you would like to look at a set of Making Prediction Graphic Organizers I created for 24 books, check it out here or by clicking the picture.

Frayer model: A fresh look at the past

Back in 2004, I started teaching at a new school. The principal, who was an amazing dynamic woman who set high standards for her teachers and her students. We had a school plan for success and implemented many new plans.

We knew our students lacked background knowledge and vocabulary, so we introduced the Frayer Model as an instructional tool in 2006.

Introducing the Frayer Model of instruction to K-2 students offers a

Vocabulary Matters: 5 More Strategies for New Words

structured and interactive approach to concept development.

Through this method, young learners delve into the exploration of new ideas and vocabulary with enthusiasm and clarity.

Each quadrant of the Frayer Model – definition, characteristics, examples, and non-examples – serves as a scaffold for understanding, allowing students to grasp concepts holistically. As they engage in activities such as drawing, labeling, or discussing examples, children deepen their comprehension and retention of the material.

As a kindergarten grade level, we introduced 1 vocabulary word a week, content-based. Whether it’s learning about shapes, our community, or emotions, the Frayer Model empowered K-2 students to build connections and articulate their understanding in a meaningful way. We would introduce the Word and Definition on Monday, the Facts on Tuesday, the Examples on Wednesday, and the Non-Examples on Thursday. Friday (or the following week in a Vocabulary Center) would be an independent day.

Moreover, this approach cultivates critical thinking skills as students analyze similarities and differences between examples and non-examples, laying a solid foundation for future academic success. Through the Frayer Model, learning becomes an interactive and engaging journey, fostering a love for exploration and discovery in young minds.

sing about it

Vocabulary Matters: 5 More Strategies for New Words

Music has a magical way of making learning fun and memorable. Take advantage of this by incorporating songs into your vocabulary lessons.

Create catchy tunes that highlight key words and their meanings.

For instance, a song about shadows can transform a mundane lesson into an engaging and memorable experience. The song on the picture, helps students with the shadow concepts of: blocking the light, sun positions with regards to shadows, and weather effecting shadows.

Singing not only reinforces vocabulary but also promotes a joyful learning atmosphere. Taking a “tricky” science skill like States of Matter, introducing some of the vocabulary and skills through song can be crucial.

The video shows the song for States of Matter, students are using their hand motions as signals for the states (solid, liquid, and gas). Recording this is definitely out of my comfort zone…my sister is the singer!

States of Matter Song

Solid and liquid and gas,

Solid and liquid and gas.

I’ll pick a card

and you’ll look really hard.

Is it solid or liquid or gas.

The song I created for liquids (in the handout) addresses the properties of a liquid (examples of liquids, lack of shape, particles roaming closely, flowing downhill, heating and freezing liquids). Using any catchy tune, you can construct a song to build vocabulary and background knowledge.

just get them talking

Vocabulary Matters: 5 More Strategies for New Words

As we conclude our exploration of five dynamic vocabulary strategies, it’s evident that fostering a rich and diverse lexicon is paramount for student success.

By implementing techniques such as List-Group-Label, Word Banks, Predict-o-gram Graphic Organizers, the Frayer Model, and the Sing About It methods, educators can create immersive and engaging learning experiences that spark curiosity and deepen understanding.

If you want even more…revisit our past blog post, “4 Vocabulary Roadblocks to Avoid: Activities for Emergent Readers.” Additionally, to support your vocabulary instruction efforts, I’ve created a handout linked through this form, providing resources for implementation in your classroom.

Together, let’s continue to nurture a love for language and empower students with the tools they need to flourish academically and beyond.

AND above all, just get them talking. If you’d like a 40-page FREEBIE…what???…make sure you fill out the form below. You will be directed to my email list. You are welcome to “unsubscribe” at any time, but hoping you’ll stick around.

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Cathy Collier

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Cindy

    Great blog on vocab! I loved using the Frayer Model with math vocabulary in middle school!

  2. Cathy Collier

    Thanks Cindy. It’s such a great model for vocabulary…even in middle school math!

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