To all those managing to share a blog a week as part of the #WeeklyBlogChallenge, I salute you. Setting up a mortgage, getting married, and prepping for a brand new year has rendered me blogless for the past month. However, after a brilliant first week back at school with my new kids, I’m more than enthused to get back on the blogwagon.
The good news – there isn’t really any bad news – is that I already know my class are going to fly with their vocabulary this year. They’ve already taken on board my avidity for words, and are already exhibiting word-loving behaviour. I didn’t really do anything special to make this happen. Talking about words, fun with words, and how important vocabulary actually is with fervour and passion is all it takes to set the verbivorian wheels in motion.
What have I put in place so far to help the growth of vocabulary in my classroom?
- Daily 10-minute word learning session.
On a couple of days, this has been really hard to fit in. But we have to try, because it has been well worth it. The words we’ve learned this week are: simmering, potent, precise, concoct, and consume. The children have their own ‘Power of Words’ books to record in. As this is the first time I’ve given kids their own exercise books specifically for vocabulary, I’ve allowed them free reign with how they present/record/jot/note etc. Of course, I have given them ideas and suggestions, but it is largely up to them. The idea behind this is that after the first term of word learning sessions, I’ll be able to look through the books and take ‘best practice’, if you like, to then move onto something more structured and concise. However, it may turn out that giving total control to the children proves to be the best method for recording, and ultimately learning, new words.
So far, it is clear that my children love to portray new words as pictures. I would say as much as 90% of them have chosen to draw a picture of a situation where the target word is being used. Something to bear in mind, I feel.
- Vocabulary Ninja Reward System.
This comes from the fantastic topic packs that the Ninja has been releasing recently (available here). I’ve modified it slightly to incorporate a ‘belt’ system similar to that of various martial arts. For great vocabulary usage, children will receive a sticker in their books to tell them which belt they’ve earned (first one is white, highest one is gold). Each child then has their own ‘Ninja ID’ to be placed on a wall display showing the belts, and where each child is.
- Unrelenting praise and encouragement.
This is simple, as all of us do this. Something as simple as ‘top vocab’ is all it takes for when a child uses a great word. Drawing the whole class’s attention to the use of a great word is also fruitful.
You are the catalyst for vocabulary development in your classroom. Your words, your turns of phrase, your excitement, your modelled speech and writing … this is what really drives the vocabulary train.
Here are a couple of examples of my planning (yes, it should be planned) for these sessions so far:
NB: It’s worth mentioning that all words have been chosen by me in light of our current topic, and the knowledge that the children will be given ample opportunity to use these words in their speech and writing.
If you’d like any more information about what I’m doing, please don’t hesitate to contact me on here, or over on Twitter. I’m by no means an ‘expert’, nor do I profess to be one. I’m a simple guy who loves words, and is passionate about developing vocabulary in children. I’m always open to feedback, and would love to discuss anything vocabulary-related with you.
NEXT WEEK: a sneak-peek into my kids’ ‘Power of Words’ books so far, and more examples of planning/activities. Oh, and maybe Seesaw.