We know that research has shown that vocabulary is an important factor in reading and listening comprehension and ultimately academic success. We know that the CCSS emphasizes vocabulary development. We know that using a variety of techniques and approaches facilitates vocabulary acquisition (pre-teaching difficult vocabulary words, direct and explicit teaching, building on students prior knowledge, and using computer technology to teach vocab words). We know all of this is important but realize the challenge of engaging our adolescents to learn new vocabulary. Creating a classroom where new and interesting vocabulary is prepensed, lionized and savored may help!
In Beck, McKeown and Kucan’s book, Bringing Words to LIfe , they write about creating a lively verbal environment in the classroom. “Teachers who revel in language are those who use words well and are eager to discover new words and word meanings. They play with words, rejoice in word lore, and model a genuine fascination for the feelings and images that words can evoke and create” (2013).
Our adolescents live in a very dynamic and ever-changing world. Consider focusing on what is relevant in their world as a natural motivator to increase exploring, retaining and applying new words. Spend just five minutes of class time exploring and encountering words based on what is going on in their lives. Make it interesting and relevant to them by connecting it to an event, holiday or popular movie. Get them hooked on expanding their vocabulary inside and outside of the classroom. By exploring new words teachers can model and build a natural curiosity of vocabulary. And as a result students could be more apt to tackle new vocabulary words in their academic work.
A great resource to find current relevant connections and ideas is vocabulary.com. These are some from the past month offering suggestions for a quick vocabulary spotlight and links to texts.
Exploring vocabulary as a natural part of the school day and something that is relevant to adolescents fosters a natural curiosity about words and the world we live in!
Happy Valentines Day! That’s Amore!