As some of you may’ve seen a while back, I took an interest in a vocabulary programme for parents to use with their children at home called Mrs. Wordsmith:
Mrs. Wordsmith’s resources involve hilarious illustrations of words (see ‘crave’ below) coupled with a focus on word pairs e.g. vacant > vacant stare, vacant eyes, vacant room. I stumbled across the website, and immediately fell in love. So, I’ve bought into it. My first monthly pack arrived last week, and it’s awesome. Over the next six months, I will receive packs. This block of six months focuses on vocabulary that develops story writing, beginning with vocabulary to describe characters.
How is it going to change my practice?
I’ve decided that I’m going to use Mrs. Wordsmith’s resources to teach this vocabulary, with the aim of building a solid base of story language for children to draw upon. This week, the words have focused on the eyes: bloodshot, bulging, vacant, fiery, steely. Next week is ‘beautiful words’: chiselled, dazzling, flawless, impeccable, mesmerising. All of the words are similar semantically, but do possess their own nuances (thanks, Rose and Y8!).
By the end of this half term, the children will have been explicitly taught a range of words that will help with not only character description whilst they’re with me in Y4, but I’m hoping that the impact will be visible as they move to higher year groups. In fact, it would be interesting to take a look at some books around this time next year, and see if it’s stuck.
Thought I’d leave you with an insight into how the assessment of vocabulary is going. On Monday, the children sat their first pre-assessment. This is when they self-assess their knowledge of the next ten words they’ll be taught. The process is repeated at the end of the ten days to be able to measure any progress.
With the maximum score for each word being a 4 (I have seen the word and I know the definition), and ten words, the highest score achievable is 40. All I ask from the children is that they are completely honest.
These scores show a number of interesting things. With 30 children in the class, and everyone scoring a 4, it makes the highest score possible 120 for each word over the whole class. I’m not surprised that dazzling scored highest with most children saying they’d seen it, and some offering a correct definition. I think the biggest thing this shows is that all the words chosen are worth teaching. When the children repeat the assessment, I will blog about their progress.
As always, please tweet or comment on this blog if you have any questions. I would love to talk to you about anything vocabulary related.