I just spent seven weeks on the road working with so many amazing teachers. We spent a lot of time talking about how to teach vocabulary and there were a lot of important (and reoccurring) questions like:
- How do I choose words?
- How do I do more than cover the new vocabulary?
- How do I help students begin to use the words without prompting?
- How do I make vocabulary stick?
Tried & True How
Based on the research of Beck et al. (Bringing Words to Life), these are the simple instructional steps I shared with the teachers:
- for a lesson, choose only 1-2 key words to spend focused time on (these may or may not be in the source)
- write a kid-friendly definition in big print for students to reference (good definitions can help students explain their thinking)
- rely on simple steps to introduce the word (define, associate, turn & talk, lightly link to the text)
- don’t shy away from providing sentence stems as students use the words (even with older students)
- integrate the vocabulary into as many components of the lesson(s) as possible.
Below are some artifacts from the lessons I demonstrated or co-taught this fall. As you look, consider the following questions (that might help you as you plan):
- Why did we choose these words?
- How might being able to refer to the definitions of these words help students explain what they learned?
- How might we integrate the use of these words into conferences? Or discussion questions? Or prompts for written responses?
Hope this helps.