The importance of vocabulary knowledge to school success has been widely documented. Back in the “old days” my teachers gave me a list of words, and I was told to look them up in the dictionary and write the definition and a sentence. Well needless to say, not many of those words stayed in my brain. Here are some of the best ways to successfully help students learn and retain vocabulary:
1. Wide reading – Of course the best way to build vocabulary is lots of reading; shared reading, guided reading, independent reading, buddy reading and read aloud. It stands to reason that the more exposure to words the students have, the more words they learn. Students who read just an extra 10 minutes a day outside of school can significantly increase their vocabulary growth.
2. Direct Instruction – Teachers need to choose the important words students need to know then directly teach those words with specific explanations, modeling, pictures, application, etc. Having students identify synonyms and antonyms for new words will better help them understand the word meaning.
3. Make Connections – Have students make connections with the words by classifying the word with other words or looking for known word parts. Students can also make personal connections to the words by relating the word to their own experiences through discussion and writing.
4. Active Engagement – Allow students to actively interact with words by play games, creating projects and writing and performing vocabulary chants where they put the word and definition to rhythm.
5. Multiple Exposure – Students need to interact with a word several times before they own it. Provide multiple exposure by storing words in a word book or on the classroom wall to use for games, writing activities and everyday classroom talk.
If you want to increase vocabulary knowledge don’t let the word “FUN” scare you! Vocabulary activities can be fun and also rigorous. After all, what we learn with enjoyment we tend to remember longer! So….don’t let your students feel lugubrious about vocabulary lessons!
You may download the blank form used for the lugubrious child by clicking here.