Saturday, August 23, 2014

W.O.W...For Teaching Vocabulary!

“Vocabulary instruction to improve language skills:  Hmmm…which vocabulary words do I use?”
This year our school made it a school improvement plan goal to focus on vocabulary instruction to implement research based approaches school-wide. 

At the beginning of the summer I asked myself…”How do I know which words to focus on in my classroom?  I already teach vocabulary directly through the usage of word walls and student dictionaries (not to mention interactive vocabulary activities in Reading Groups, Math, Science, and Social Studies).  What else can I possibly do that we are not already doing?

The problem I quickly realized once I started to read and research is I have focused too much on concept words for content instead of conversational words that teach students meaningful and rich language skills.  For years I have posted words on the board that focus on Science and Social Studies topics as the basis for vocabulary instruction.  In reading groups I have introduced science terms and lists of words that are embedded in stories in order to enhance story meaning.

Basically… I have been focusing mostly on concept words instead of words that enrich student vocabularies for speaking and writing.  After reading, I learned that direct instruction of “conversational” words (Tier Two Words) is just as important (if not more important) to teach directly.  Tier Three Words are concept or content words that are appropriate for subject matter, but not as necessary for conversations or written expression.  Click on the pictures below to read about the Three Tier Model of Vocabulary Instruction (by Beck, McKeown, and Kucan):

So… How do I best teach Tier Two Words?
After looking at the suggested strategies for instruction of Tier Two Words my first thought was, “Wow…this makes so much sense and is so age-appropriate for what we are already doing!”  As a second grade teacher we teach how words work and how we use them in language.  Tier Two Word instruction focuses on exposing the conversational words over and over again through conversations, writing, and usage.  Skills and strategies are taught directly through the Tier Two Words.  Marzano’s steps to teaching vocabulary is powerful for teaching these Tier Two Words:
5. Discussion
6. Games 

I decided to develop a weekly lesson format and interactive notebook (W.O.W Book) that would work best for me in my classroom.  I have always loved the idea of teaching W.O.W. (Words of the Week) in a classroom! 

I knew… I needed a structured format that allowed for planned instruction throughout the week.  It needed to be quick and to the point due to lack of time in our daily schedule.
I knew… my students did well with interactive notebooks to use as anchor charts or resources during writing workshop or reading groups. I wanted to provide a resource for them to make their own.
I knew… vocabulary instruction should require my students to link new words to their already “known or existing” vocabularies.  Basically, the vocabulary should build and be integrative.
I knew… repetition and usage of the words needed to be integrated into the lesson format.

I am tickled to share with you my…
Words of the Week Interactive Vocabulary and Spelling Notebook!
On Sale Today! (20% Off)

It is loaded with everything I need to teach Tier Two Vocabulary Words and more this year!  All I have to do is pick 2 words a week from the list…and follow the sample lesson plan provided in the packet!  Lessons are quick and to the point!

This 315 paged-packet gives all the tools needed for my easy 7-step program of direct vocabulary instruction.  Included are all the resources a teacher needs for weekly vocabulary instruction (K-5 Tier 2 word lists and teaching posters) along with spelling ideas and a second grade spelling list. Here is what all is included in my W.O.W. Book download in my store on TpT:

• W.O.W. Student Notebook Covers 
• W.O.W. Seven Steps to Teaching Vocabulary (Weekly Teaching Guide)
• Parent Letter
• W.O.W. Student Pledge
• Vocabulary Word Prior Knowledge Chart
• W.O.W. Seven Step Vocabulary Tickets
• W.O.W. Seven Step Teaching Posters
• Tier 2 Word Lists (Grades K-5) *Choose two a week from any list 
• Word Wall Word Cards for Each List
• Science Vocabulary Word List
• W.O.W. Vocabulary Test Template
• Notebook Tabs and Dividers (A-Z or by the month)
• Notebook Spine Labels
• Optional Spelling Cover
• W.O.W. Spelling Tickets
• Spelling Word List (Second Grade)
• W.O.W. Spelling Test Template
• Spelling Word Dictionary Pages (A-Z)
• W.O.W. Notebook Anchor Charts (Prefixes/Suffixes/Multiple Meaning Words/Antonyms/Synonyms
• Cut & Paste Pockets of Words (A-Z Notebook pockets for Vocabulary Flashcards)
• Vocabulary Word Flip-n-Fold Booklet
• Vocabulary Word Writing Page
• Vocabulary Word Splash Web (Semantic Concept Map)
• The Root of It All (Interactive Notebook Templates)
• Shades of Meaning (Interactive Notebook Templates)
• Movie Night Word Meanings (Interactive Notebook Template)
• Crazy Daisy Word Meanings (Interactive Notebook Template)
• Hop on the Vocabulary Bus ((Interactive Notebook Template)
• Word Ladder Links ((Interactive Notebook Templates)
• Vocabulary Flips (Interactive Notebook Template)
• Multiple Meaning Words (Interactive Flap Booklet)
• Antonyms (Interactive Flap Booklet)
• Synonyms (Interactive Flap Booklet)
• Vocabulary Words T Chart (Comparing Word Meanings)
• Vocabulary Word Venn Diagram (Comparing Word Meanings)

We’ve spent the last two weeks getting our W.O.W. Books assembled and had a blast this last week starting our lessons!  Here are some pictures of my students cutting their tab dividers and letter pockets for their word cards.  Yes…the students cut and put EVERYTHING together in their 2-inch binders!  I could see them taking ownership of their notebooks more than if I had put them together ahead of time!
This kiddo is cutting out his tab dividers and lining them up in ABC order to assemble.
This kiddo is cutting out his pockets for vocabulary flashcards.
The first thing you see in their W.O.W. Notebooks is the Student W.O.W. Pledge!  We did this first thing together on Monday and discussed what each check meant before they all signed!

We only focus on two words a week!  Our words this week were friendly and ownership.  I chose these words because we are working on character education words as well.  I clipped my sample lesson plan to my board and followed it daily to keep me on task each day (I have a tendency to overteach and lessons can run too long).  Lessons were short and sweet…but powerful!

I’d love for you to check out my W.O.W. Notebook and let me know what you think.  Watch for updates as I let you know how the W.O.W Books are going.   I can’t wait to see how my students “use” their words in their conversations and writing this year!  Thanks so much friends and let me know if you have any questions! 


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