Add Life to Boring Vocabulary Lessons

students thumbs upSix Easy Tips

How do you jazz up your vocabulary lessons? Share your ideas in a comment, below. The most original idea from this post and the next three posts will win a School Box gift card!

We all know that vocabulary instruction is an important aspect of any language arts program. Unfortunately, common practices such as looking up words in the dictionary or memorizing word lists simply aren’t enough to help students develop a genuine knowledge of word meaning.

And plus, they’re just plain boring.

So how do you add life to your vocabulary instruction?

You could probably come up with some really creative song and dance routines, but sometimes all you really need is a simple yet effective way to present your lessons that keeps students engaged.

With that in mind, here are six easy tips vocabulary experts recommend to integrate active participation techniques into your direct instruction:

1. Use choral responses

Ever notice how students all like to talk at the same time? Well, how about taking advantage of it for once? Next time you introduce new words, ask students to:

– Pronounce the words together.

– Read the words in a sentence together.

– Complete cloze sentences or other activities as a class.

2. Use nonverbal responses

Okay, giving the thumbs-up sign may be a little out of style, but it’s a fun way to answer simple questions. Try eliciting student responses through simple signs or signals such as pointing to a word, standing and sitting, or even clapping.

3. Use partner responses

To mix things up a bit, start your next lesson by having students practice with a partner first. Or have students pair up and work as teams while taking part in class discussions.

4. Allow thinking time before taking responses

Nobody likes being put on the spot. Give your students the time they need to think before calling on them—you may be surprised by what they come up with.

5. Randomly call on students; don’t ask for raised hands

We all love seeing those hands up in the air, but sometimes calling on students without asking for raised hands can be a good way to get those who may be reluctant to participate involved in the discussion.

6. Ask students to rephrase what a partner or other classmate said.

Asking students to rephrase answers can be a great way to support students who may be shy or unsure of what to say.

And after the lesson is over, don’t forget to model and practice new words throughout the day. Make a point of using new words in your other lessons and conversations, and find moments (like while waiting in line) for students to interact with their new words.

Try integrating these easy steps into your next vocabulary lesson and see for yourself how a few simple active participation techniques can go a long way!

* Need more help with vocabulary instruction? The tips from this article came from Evan-Moor Educational Publishers’ Daily Academic Vocabulary. Download a free sample week of instruction here and take a look at the teacher resource pages for more ideas.

How do you jazz up your vocabulary lessons? Share your ideas in a comment, below. The most original idea from this post and the next three posts will win a School Box gift card!

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