Wordshop Vocab activities for your classroom

Ever since College Board President David Coleman announced that the redesigned SAT would replace its testing of more obscure words such as mendacious or treacly with the analysis of more frequent, multiple-meaning words in context, educators have been fretting about what this may mean for the study of vocabulary and for the precision of the next generation of American students' English in general. Continue reading...
Jim Burke's The English Teacher's Companion includes a list of 358 academic vocabulary words culled from a survey of textbooks, assignments, standards, and examinations. Although the term academic vocabulary means different things to different educators, I like to think of Burke's use of the term as representing the vocabulary of directions. Continue reading...
Words can be thought of as historical artifacts; they carry with them a stamp of time and place, and sometimes it's important to take the long view and think about words outside their immediate context and use a broader perspective. Continue reading...
One of the most persistent myths about word acquisition is that students don't need to be taught words; they just need to read more and their vocabularies will magically expand. This theory — which I like to call "learning words by osmosis" — doesn't hold much promise for your average or struggling reader. While it may hold true for a select group of students who are strong, avid readers possessing a curiosity about words, most students don't learn words by simply encountering them in reading. Continue reading...
When you hear the words academic vocabulary, you might think of words that live only in academic journals — awkward words such as insomuch, heretofore, or conversely. These words would never roll off your tongue and you would never expect to encounter them on prime time television or on the magazine rack as you wait in line at the supermarket. Continue reading...
High/low, yes/no, black/white. There's something reassuring about opposites. A lot of vocabulary teaching is done using pairs of opposites, and with good reason: learners really feel they have a handle on a concept if they grasp its antithesis. There are, however, some other concept families that are best learned using three terms — triples — that provide a middle ground which in turn enhances all three concepts. Continue reading...
When Snoopy takes out his typewriter and begins to compose a novel atop his doghouse, he always begins with "It was a dark and stormy night..." This phrase — originally appearing in a schmaltzy 19th century British novel — has come to symbolize all that can go wrong with melodramatic writing, especially the clumsy attempts of a writer trying to evoke a dramatic setting within the first sentence of a work of literature. Continue reading...
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