Thursday, January 31, 2013

Learning Vocabulary Comes Full Circle!

“As vocabulary is reduced , so are the number of feelings you can express, the number of events you can describe, the number of the things you can identify! Not only understanding is limited, but also experience. Man grows by language. Whenever he limits language he retrogresses!”
― Sheri S. Tepper, A Plague of Angels

As we all know, getting our kids to not only learn the vocabulary words in order to understand them in context but also to commit them to memory and use them in their own writing is SUCH a challenge! After attending an in-service to make up "hurrication" (hurricane vacation) days, I finally found something that clicked for my kids- thanks to an awesome presentation.

Vocabulary Circle Maps-- the way they work is to use an adapted circle map format to get kids to get to thinking about vocabulary on a deeper level. Who cares if you can match the word to the definition if you can't use it? You can have tons of different divisions for your circle map. I usually use some of the following:

  • Synonyms/antonyms
  • Meaningful sentence (someone could know the meaning of the word by using context clues)
  • Examples/non-examples
  • Picture
  • Part of Speech 
  • Parts of Word (prefixes, suffixes, endings, etc. i.e. -ly, -est)
Though it challenges my kids, I can tell they are finally starting to understand most of our words. I usually try to do at least 2 vocabulary circle maps a week with those words that are the most important. The best part is that I am not restricted to ELA. I use them in math just as much. My kids did some awesome work with the word equivalent that showed me they really understood what we were doing (whew!). 

Click here to get this activity at my TpT Store. 

Overall, my kids and I have loved this activity and it is awesome for assessment because I can truly see who has a minimal understanding and who has a deep understanding of the word and its uses!

Hope this finds a happy home in your classroom!

Happy Teaching, 
Ms. Winter

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