time prior to reading to predict the definition, even orally
is time well spent. The teacher can run through the list of
words and ask students to predict what they think the word will
mean. Students are alert to the words and their brains are more
engaged when reading. If you want to be more thorough, you could
use the strategy “Meaning Before Meaning After.”
Categories Card Game
card game “Spoons” is basically the game behind
this strategy. This is very effective when students have a large
number of new vocabulary words to master and the words fall
into identified categories.
Students create 3x5 cards of the vocabulary words. The cards
are combined in a deck. Some item (e.g., spoons, chips, dice,
stones) are set in the center of the playing table. Be sure
to set out one less than the number of players.
The deck is shuffled and all the cards are dealt. The first
player passes a card to the player on his/her left, that player
takes the card and passes a card to his /her left; play continues
in this way. Players are keeping cards trying to collect all
the cards in one category. Once a player has all of the items
in a category, he/she quietly picks up a spoon. As soon as players
see a spoon picked up, they do the same. The player without
a spoon is out. Notes: It works best if each category has the
same number of words.
are a number of web sites supporting puzzle creation. Crossword
puzzles are only one type of many available! Many teachers will
say they don’t have time to create puzzles. If that is
the case for you, either assign it to students, or give them
extra credit for creating puzzles. You could have a contest
with the winning puzzle challenging the other students. Here
are a couple of good sites to get you started:
strategy may involve some preparation; however, once a teacher
creates the game, it is usually fairly flexible and reusable.
The students really get involved with games and even more exciting,
the learning stays with them! Think of television games and
see if there is a way to bring it in to your classroom. “Jeopardy”
is a classic. “Family Feud” and the “Pyramid”
can also be adapted for classroom use. Use your imagination.
If this isn’t your style, try giving it as an optional
assignment and give students credit for creating the game for
you! They learn and you get a great new tool!
to get new vocabulary to “stick” with students
is to encourage them to create analogies with the new
words. This seems to be most effective in small or large
groups. They complete this together and have a good time
filling in the blanks. ______ is to _____ as ______ is
to _____ because_______. If they do the activity in small
groups, it may be effective to have them share their analogies
in the large group. The important part of analogies is
getting them to identify the relationships.
good for more complex vocabulary (Frayer, Frederick, & Klausmeier,
1969). Using this model, students will need to identify not
only what the word IS, but what it ISN’T as well. This
clarifies their thinking. The characteristics area is important
as it helps students identify key indicators or characteristics
of the word. This area then becomes the "assessment filter"
for the example and non-example areas.
site will give a good example of this strategy, along
with a printable worksheet: