Tired of teaching Vocabulary?

Try these new strategies to add life to your instruction!

What we will cover in the 2 hour PD session:

To be successful, our students must understand complex texts, engage deeply with content-area concepts, and participate in academic discussions. To that end, this session will give participants an opportunity to explore technology resources that will positively impact vocabulary instruction . Participants will engage in activities designed for improving student vocabulary skills which are content and grade level specific. Walk away from this session with tools that can be implemented immediately in any content area.

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What does John Hattie say about Vocabulary Instruction and it's effect on learning?

Vocabulary Programs have a 0.67 effect size according to research conducted by Hattie. It falls 17th of 150 various strategies on his chart in Teaching Literacy in the Visible Learning Classroom.

Independent Learning

  1. Teachers need to directly involve students, who notice that they need to learn a word.
  2. Students keep records of the words they want to learn.
  3. Students share their ideas with others so that their peers can choose to add new words to their learning goals.
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Effective Approaches to guide students working independently

Vocabulary Self-Awareness

  • Not a one-size-fits all approach
  • Assesses student knowledge before reading
  • updating chart as unit progresses
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Vocabulary Self-Selection

  • Students identify words they believe are important for themselves and the class to learn.
  • Words occur in their readings, independent research, or interactions with others.
  • Students record how they located the word and why they feel it is important.

Scavenger Hunts and Realia

  • Students are given a list of words, both new and familiar, that are related conceptually. They have one week to find either visual examples (magazine clippings,etc.) or realia (the object itself), or evidence of the use of the word in something other than their textbook.
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Word Sorts

Open and Closed Concept Word Sorts will provide children to work both collaboratively and independently with words.

Closed Concept Word Sort

Younger students may be sort words on a mat made of construction paper or tag board to create a defined field for placing the word cards.
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Open Concept Word Sort

Older students may have the opportunity to group words and create their own categories. In the picture below, some student groups have sorted by breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks while other groups sorted by we are allowed to have and we're not allowed to have.
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Vocabulary Word Cards

  • Index cards can be used to create meaningful notes about words. Cards serves several uses. When placed on a binder ring the cards become an easily accessible reference for the student. The time involved in creating each card also provides an opportunity for students to spend time concentrating on the meaning, use, and representation for the term, therefore increasing the likelihood that the term will become part of their permanent vocabulary.
  • Children are instructed to divide each card into quadrants. Upper grade teachers may select terms related to the Greek or Latin root words.
  • Target word is written in the top left quadrant.
  • Definition in the student's own words is recorded in another quadrant
  • Illustration or graphic representation of the term placed in a quadrant
  • Antonyms or something that the word does not mean is in the last quadrant.
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Task 1: Interactive Word Wall

Using QR codes, teachers will use a Know or No chart to record their knowledge of posted words. After the first introduction to the word, teachers will use their device to scan a QR code to find out more information about the vocabulary term. After visiting all stations, teachers will revisit their charts to complete the assignment. Upon completion of this activity, teachers will create QR codes that include video clips or articles to paste into the QR code generator. Teachers will be able to save this information to use this in class.

Task 2: Alphabet Organizer

Teachers will visit the Read,Write,Think website to create a project titled "Technology." Teachers will be shown how to access this free website/page to create and print a project with their students.

Please click here for activity

Task 3: Paint Chip Vocabulary

Using the handout or actual paint chips from the hardware store, teachers will create a lesson for their subject/grade level. In the session, we will watch a short video about a teacher that uses paint chips in her high school classroom to build student vocabulary. We will also learn about a website that will help students visualize words.


Teaching Channel Video

Task 4: Flipped Voabulary

We will read a short post from Catlin Tucker about "Flipped Vocabulary." We will then work with SNIP and a website to discuss all the elements and demo how you can record a slide with information to teach the students using technology in rotations.

Catlin Tucker Article

Vocabulary site to explore using SNIP or Office Mix

Padlet to publish song lyrics, poetry, or stories using vocabulary words.

Flocabulary on Presidents' Day

Task 5: Word Clouds

Watch a science teacher incorporate literacy using word clouds. I will share some websites that make this task easy for your children.

Tagcrowd allows you to add a text as the teacher discussed.

Click to see 101 ways to use Tagxedo

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Closure: Stop Light Exit Ticket

See how simple this 3 part graphic is for students to use as a place to respond and you to gather assessment data.


Kathy Paul

Instructional Technology Coach

Wilson Elem. School (MWF)

Buchanan Elem. School (T/TH)