No matter your subject area, vocabulary is critical for speaking the ‘language’ of the subject, and for building up confidence and comfort with test questions. In other words, as we approach testing season, it is very important that students are familiar with the vocabulary.
In my classroom, I use several strategies for students to build up comfort with the vocabulary.
At the start of the unit, I give students a list of terms and definitions for the unit. I usually make these up by using the website http://www.quizlet.com Once you enter the words, you can choose from a list of previously entered definitions for that term. I try to keep the list to a manageable, not overwhelming amount. For homework, they have a week to do to options from their vocabulary ‘menu.’ They can do three for extra credit. This menu includes options such as drawing pictures, using in a sentence, writing definitions, writing a story, etc.
Then within class, I like to spend a day on vocabulary, and do some station work. Sometimes I will miss in the vocabulary with other review stations. On other occasions I just focus on vocabulary.
Some of the vocabulary station that I like to use are:
– http://www.quizlet.com Students can use different games on the site to practice with the words. My favorite is scatter, but there is a ‘learn’ mode that is also great. Some of my lowest students can practice over and over and feel a sense of success.
– match up words and definitions. Print out terms on one set of cards, and definitions on another. Students match up the words and definitions. They can also compete to see how quickly they can match them up.
– Pictionary – students can get into small teams and choose a word randomly (draw a card); and then draw the word. Their teammates try to guess which term they are drawing.
– Create a test question using the vocabulary terms
There are others, but this is a good place to start. I think its really important that vocabulary stations focus on knowing the definitions and student processing, not only on spelling, or word searches/crossword puzzles.
Students are engaged, competitive, and practicing using the terms they need to learn.
Science in the City is a science teacher in an urban district and seeks out ways to make her lessons engaging and memorable for students.