#TCRWP 89th Saturday Reunion and FUN Vocabulary Learning!

Session #4 – Quick, Practical and Fun Ways to Bring Vocabulary Learning into Your Classroom with Katie Wischow 

Vocabulary is complicated.

Vocabulary cannot all be taught through context.


Source for much of the information: Bringing Words to Life – Robust Instruction


Ultimate goal:  turning kids into thinking users of vocabulary

Background knowledge

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If you are familiar with Beck’s work, we were talking Tier 2 words.

Here’s a quick review of the tiers.

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So what does this mean?

Oral use of words.

Playful use of words.

Multiple uses of words.

Meaningful use of words.

What does that look like?

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How can you use a bunch of words quickly?

Set up a chart.

Check out when and how the word does work like “inquisitive” and “ban” below.

Thinking about the characteristics of the people and the characteristics of the vocabulary word – is there a match?

Quick, fast-paced, two minute FUN drills!

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And then a Sentence Game.

A  game that involved awarding points.

And throwing a beanbag type object.

  • Timed
  • Create a complete sentence
  • 1 pt. decent attempt
  • 2 pt. fully correct
  • 3 pt. fully correct and even clue to figure out from contextually.
  • Teacher is the final word on points!
  • Class goal for points – argue and you will lose points

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Why a game?

  • Shows the students your values
  • Oral practice
  • 20-30 sentences generated
  • Most students stay engaged
  • Teacher can catch misconceptions!  Students may use the right definition but weirdly / awkwardly ….
  • See the degree of strength/weakness in vocabulary use

What about Word Sorts?

We often see elementary word sorts.

How could word sorts be used in a content area?

The words in the following picture could be sorted into the categories of Patriots/Loyalists/Types of Governments.

They could also be sorted by words with prefixes, suffixes, or both (affixes) or even singular/plural.

In an open sort, the student can find many possibilities and also have rich discussion if sorting with another student.

If the words are cut apart, students could assemble their sorts in their space, label them with a post-it note turned over, and then engage in a gallery walk and “guess my category”? as they circulate around the room.

What might you consider for Word Sort Rules?

Must be at least two items for a category.

The category must be labeled positively.

  • Dogs/Not Dogs (won’t work)
  • Dogs/All other small pets (will work)

All words must be used.

  • 2015-10-17 13.23.05

Vocabulary Look Fors

What should an observer see?

What should the teacher be planning for?

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Katie spent some time on activities that could be answered as WHY questions – like Elmo!

  • Ranking words
  • 3 things and then an example
  • How much would you like to . . .?
  • Would you rather . . .?
  • Idea completions  walk . . .run
  • When/how would you
  • Choose between descriptions or between words
  • Show a painting/song/etc. – debate which word best fits
  • Ranking words – shades of meaning
  • Types of word walls, sorted different ways

Closing Ideas

Find poetry, music, and Read Alouds that celebrate words and word play!

And study kids’ vocabulary in talking/writing across the whole school and the whole day. .  .

What’s your level of vocabulary instruction knowledge?

What have you learned?

What has been reaffirmed?

5 responses

  1. Thanks for posting on the “parts” of workshop (word study and conventions), that are either ignored, or tight in traditional ways. Inquiry is the key in both. Love Beck’s work. Thanks for highlighting so many creative possibilities. I feel like I was actually in the workshop!

    1. Laurie,
      So many “parts” that can be used quickly and in a “so appropriate” way for content classes and workshops. Katie’s workshop was so full of fun and laughter as was Amanda’s on Saturday!

      So critical to not lose sight of the real work in these troubled times!!! You are welcome!

  2. […] #TCRWP 89th Saturday Reunion and FUN Vocabulary Learning! […]

  3. […] a session led by Katy Wischow (@kw625) at the 89th #TCRWP Saturday Reunion that was summarized in this post.  Vocabulary is complicated.  It cannot all be taught through context.  But when do we […]

  4. […] Session #4 – Quick, Practical and Fun Ways to Bring Vocabulary Learning into Your Classroom with Katie Wischow Vocabulary is complicated. Vocabulary cannot all be taught through context. AGREED? Source for much of the information: Bringing Words to Life – Robust Instruction Ultimate goal: turning kids into thinking users of vocabulary Background knowledge If you…  […]

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