Why Vocabulary Instruction?
According to a document produced in 2000 by the Texas Reading Initiative, student vocabulary strength often impacts their achievement. Students with stronger vocabulary struggle less with reading and practice more, getting better. Students with weaker vocabulary struggle more with reading and that frustration leads to less practice and little progress. It is important to close this gap in vocabulary to give all students a chance at success.
Strategies for Vocabulary Strengthening
Any exercises that you can provide students to increase how often and how much they read will contribute to an increase in their vocabulary, especially if it is targeted reading based on the content area. Providing supplemental texts, especially newspaper and magazine articles, with words for scrutiny highlighted will help.
This is a fun strategy that is shared on the link below (15 Vocabulary Strategies in 15 minutes). Students are to use the word in an example of graffiti art. The word itself should be represented in bubble letters. Around the word on the page is a description of the word in the student's own words, at least three images representing the word and the page must be completely colored in.
WORDS OF THE WEEK
This is a teacher led activity, that really doesn't require a content area. The teacher selects 4 or 5 Tier II words and is deliberate about using them throughout class for a week. The next week, these words make it to a word wall and because the start of a number of activities so students can now integrate the word into their vocabulary. The process can start with asking students what the words mean. Some will have asked during the first week and may remember what they were told. Some may have gathered the meanings from the context as they were used in the previous week. Many still may have no idea, but at this point these are not unfamiliar terms, but word they are aware are being used. While students work on these words with various activities in and out of class, the teacher begins a new set of words in preparation for the following week.
The "Mathew Effect"
Demonstrate while reading to the class how you approach a new word encountered while reading. As you execute each of the steps you take to bring meaning to the new word, as well as the things you do to make it your own, describe each step in a way students can later duplicate your process. This gives students the tools to do this on their own when needed.
ALL AROUND THE WORD
This is a combination of strategies to make an interesting activity. When teaching a new word, break it up into stations -- one where students are working with synonyms of the word, one for antonyms of the word, one that looks at any non-standard usage of the word (and discusses whether that is acceptable or not), one that looks at its differences from similar words, and one that looks at the word in its usual context. Without directly dealing with the definition, students should be able to supply a definition in their own words after completing all the stations.
This is another strategy shared on the link below (15 Vocabulary Strategies in 15 minutes). Students take a word, and in the style of a political cartoon, illustrate the word in action and write a sentence that goes with the action using the word. Also on the drawing, there should be a phonetic spelling, the definition, and a linking word (which should be connected to the drawing as well). This exercise causes the students to think about the word in new ways, hopefully helping them draw connections to help them better understand and remember it.