Friday, September 23, 2011

Vocabulary Instruction and Review Game

Gosh, there are a lot of words for teachers to teach and students to learn in third grade. Just thinking about it all can be exhausting. When thinking about how best to instruct students in the area of vocabulary, my mind immediately turns to the work of Robert Marzano. Although I read this book for the first time years ago, I find myself turning back to it time and time again.

In this book he refers to the "dual coding" theory of information storage. The idea that knowledge is stored in two forms: linguistic and imagery form. Through research we can conclude that the more we use both systems, the better we are able to recall knowledge. In fact it has been shown that explicitly engaging students in the creation of nonlinguistic representations stimulates activity in the brain (Gerlic, Jausovec). So using graphic organizers, mental pictures and kinesthetic representations are incredibly valuable learning experiences for our students.

This week I introduced my students to a vocabulary review game to reinforce the new words associated with our Geography Unit. It is a cross between the Pyramid Game and Pictionary and so easy to do. I simply have kids set up chairs so one student is facing the board and one has his/her back to it. The one who is facing the board is the giving the picture clues and the one opposite the board is receiving and trying to guess the word. I write a word up: let's say Latitude Lines. The giver of the clues draws a picture to represent the word, they can expand on the drawing but can not use written words or verbal clues. I give 2 minutes and if they can guess the word they whisper it into the ear of the illustrator and they get a point. They switch chairs for the next word. As a teacher, I get a good idea of who knows the words. They LOVED this game and one kid said, "We should play this more often, Mrs. Young." My kids make me laugh! Here they are in action.

Another strategy that I rely on to review the words we teach is the Password of the Day. I write a vocab word on the board each morning and we go over that word. This then becomes the "magic word" that moves them. Let's say we are on the floor after read aloud, I would say, "On the word of the day, you can move back to your seats. The word of the day means _____." Then we would say the word and kids can move. It is used at most of my transition times and therefore that particular word is repeated about 4-5 times a day. A quick, easy way to sneak in vocabulary exposures!


Shawn Fan said...

Awesome game! What if you have a student who has a hard time remembering/memorizing the words? How do you modify?

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