Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wednesday Words

I don't have any new words this week. Instead, I'll share some excerpts from the chapter "All About Words in the book Classics in the Classrooom by Carol Jago. I love reading about this stuff, and Jago's writting keeps me interested.

"Children who read build huge vocabularies from immersion in the world of language. They aren't consciously trying to learn new words; it just happens. Those for whom reading is a trial avoid books.As a result they learn many fewer words per day, per week, per year than their reading peers. By the time they are handed a copy of Great Expectations in ninth grade...many students are familiar with fewer than 80 percent of the words in Dickens' novel. Vocabulary experts tell us that for reasonable reading comprehension a student needs to know 90-95 percent of the words."

"We can only reasonably teach about 300-400 words per year through direct instruction. What teachers can do is help students develop habits of mind for approaching unfamiliar vocabulary. Children making good progress as readers add between 3,000 and 5,000 new words to their vocabulary per year through incidental exposure....[T]he children who are the furthest behind in vocabulary development are also the one adding the fewest words per year....Learning 400 carefully targeted words can improve comprehension significantly."

"...[F]or vocabulary instruction to make a difference, it must be productive. That is, it must involve teaching a target set of words that generates knowledge of a much larger set of words. [Recommended are:]

❧ teaching prefixes, suffixes, and roots;

❧ teaching students to derive meaning from context; and

❧ teaching words as part of semantic groupings."

Jago goes on to explain that she gives out bookmarks on which students are to list unfamiliar words with page numbers as they read. This has been a technique I've only recently started using myself. The only difference with me is that I do not record the page number, I record the meaning.

So I devised a template of bookmarks that I plan to use this year. A new bookmark for each new book. And I plan to save all the bookmarks as the students finish until the end of school. And each day, I plan to have the students add the new words they have recorded on their bookmarks to a word wall for the selected book. If they are like me, keeping new words before you is a necessity to familiarity.

I've added a picture below of the bookmark template. If you open the picture in a separate window, then cut and paste it into PowerPoint, you might be able to use it. If that doesn't work and you do not want to design your own, leave a comment and I'll e-mail you one.


Carol in Oregon said...

Nice! That is a great idea. One of my favorite parts in those memoirs about the reading life is how avid readers contextualize words and figure them out, though miss the pronunciation. Garrison Keillor did a monologue years ago about seeing s picture of an Egyptian mummy and said it with a hard g.

I advocate starting *very young* with challenging read alouds or listening tapes. My youngest listened to Pilgrims Progress when he was four or five and picked up so much vocabulary from those tapes.

Learning words in their context is the best way. But the reader can't be lazy...

Although, I vacillated on the question, "Mom, what does this word mean?" Many times I supplied the definition, but as they got older I'd point my boys to the dictionary.

Anne said...

Very cool! Thanks for sharing the bookmarks.