Wordshop Vocab activities for your classroom

We have all seen this tired loop of "instruction": distribute word list, have students look up words, ask students to use the words in original sentences. While encouraging usage is never a bad idea, it's not realistic to expect students to pivot from definition to usage without guidance. We suggest ditching (or at least delaying) the idea of originality and instead asking students to model their sentences on usage examples written by those people who are especially skilled with using words: professional writers. Continue reading...
Educators love to talk about how important vocabulary is, but they are often at wits' end trying to figure out how to teach it effectively. Despite the overwhelming evidence that vocabulary knowledge matters to students' reading comprehension and overall achievement in school, it is rare that you will find schools or school districts implementing systematic vocabulary instruction. Continue reading...
There has been a lot of hubbub over the last few months about states defecting from the original group of 45 states that had adopted the Common Core State Standards. But how different are the state standards that have diverged from the Common Core when it comes to the teaching of vocabulary? Continue reading...
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...
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