Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Word Power Wednesday

As teachers, we know that vocabulary is critical to reading comprehension. It plays an important role in learning to read as well as reading to learn. To ensure academic success, young readers must develop a wide base of word knowledge and the ability to learn how to acquire new words.  So, how do we foster vocabulary development?    

This week we'll explore a variety of ways to activate students' knowledge before introducing new vocabulary.

1.  Word Splash 

Display a word splash and ask students read the words.  Discuss the words they already know.  Then ask them to predict how they think the words may be related.  You can display the words on chart paper, in a pocket chart, or on a SMART Board using Wordle...Be creative! 

2.  Create a Story

First, ask students to read over the list of new words and circle any words they don't know.  Then challenge them to write a story using as many words as they can.  Encourage them to take risks - predict how the unknown words might be used.  Stories can be realistic, imaginary, silly, or even scary.  Let students choose! (Note: I always add a word or two that students are sure to know.  This increases the comfort level and helps them get started more quickly.)

I added 'animal' and 'wild' because students know these words.  This student began his writing with the two 'comfort words'. 

3.  Word Sorting 
Give students index cards with one word printed on each card.  Students sort the words into categories.  You can provide the categories or ask them to choose their own categories and explain their logic.  

4. Word Association Games
*The Perfect Pair - Give students a set of word cards.  They sort the words to find matching pairs.  For example: protect-defend
*Find Your Partner- Students each are given a word card.  Their task is to find a partner with the match for their word.  The matches can be word/definition, word/synonym, or word/antonym--you decide!

5.  The Guessing Jar  
Students are given a "Guess the Topic" slip of paper.  The teacher reads or displays a list of words.  Student decide what all the words have in common.  They write their predictions on the slips and put their guesses in the jar.  The teacher can select a winner.  

6.  Connect Four  

Write four vocabulary words on several index cards.  Use different combinations of words.  Students work in pairs to explain or predict how the words on their card are connected.

If you missed the first Word Power Wednesday post, you can read it {here}.  Stop by for the Word Power post on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.

How do you activate prior knowledge before introducing new vocabulary. Leave a comment...I'd love to hear from you!


  1. What awesome ideas! I will be sure to check out your other Word Power Wednesday Posts! I am a new follower and also hosting a linky party. I'd love for you to link up! :)
    Pinkadots Elementary

  2. Thanks for sharing these tips. I love how they are all different and make vocabulary fun. I am pinning them for later.

    Literacy Spark