[Vocabulary] A Distinguished Set of Explicit Words Guaranteed to Make You Guffaw

A very smart, very talented lady gave me this idea this Summer (Thank You to Mrs. R!) as a way to develop vocabulary skills. She is a word-lover from way back, and was able to cultivate this same passion in her kiddos by using something as simple as vocabulary cards. “Vocabulary cards?!?” you say?  Yes, vocabulary cards.  I would then say “not just any vocabulary cards,” but I would be lying.  They kind of were any vocabulary cards.  The key is in how she incorporated them into her classroom.

I, of course, copied her. I didn’t have any vocabulary cards, nor did my librarian, nor did my favorite used teacher-supply website. I did, however, have a binder full of magazine photos I had been gathering for…  hm… say 15 years?  Viola!  Vocabulary cards!

Following the structure taught to me by the fab-o Mrs. R, I present a new word by asking the schmoopies what they see in the picture. They eventually come around to an understanding of the word. Then we call on the Man on the White Horse to tell us the part of speech, keep track of antonyms and synonyms as they come up, and then each schmoopie writes a sentence to go on the back of the card. We agree on a non-verbal signal for the word (a motion or hand sign) and then we add it to our writing notebooks as a writing tool.  Once a new word has been welcomed, the kiddos are on the hunt.  They are starting to take pleasure in using the words in conversation, in their journal writing, and telling us about places they have seen or heard the words at home or on TV.  They have a smaller version of the word-lover sparkle I get when I learn something new.  I’m hoping this word-lover-sparkle grows over time.  To all of my wordie friends out there–I’ve got some new recruits!

Here are some of the card sets we’ve made this year.

As is typical for the schmoopies, they have made this their own protocol.  They are bringing in magazine pictures to use, and are offering up ideas for new words as they stumble upon them.  I’m forever delighted at their eagerness to learn and to be academic.  For many of them, prior to coming to our program they were identified by what they did not know, did not have, or could not do.  They are tickled pink to be identified by what they know or can do.  They run with it.  They teach me every day.

And another shout-out to the SDAWP SI for providing the place for me to learn this!

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