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Words Are Drab…Engage Your Students With Vocab!. CAST 2011 Aimee Ayers and Jena Walters. 6 th Grade Science TEK…do you see a problem??.

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Words are drab engage your students with vocab

Words Are Drab…Engage Your Students With Vocab!

CAST 2011

Aimee Ayers and Jena Walters

6 th grade science tek do you see a problem

6th Grade Science TEK…do you see a problem??

  • (7)  Matter and energy. The student knows that some of Earth's energy resources are available on a nearly perpetual basis, while others can be renewed over a relatively short period of time. Some energy resources, once depleted, are essentially nonrenewable. The student is expected to:

  • (A)  research and debate the advantages and disadvantages of using coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and solar resources; and

List of words commonly found on science assessments

List of Words Commonly Found on Science Assessments

  • Apparatus

  • Classify

  • Common

  • Composed

  • Confirm

  • Diagram

  • Evidence

  • Exposed

  • Formation

  • Indicates

  • Ordinary

  • Percentage

  • Diagram

Words are drab engage your students with vocab

Screen shot courtesy of Delta Education Foss Web http://www.fossweb.com/NYC/modules6-8/DSM_LTE/DSM_LTE_Build.pdf

What to do

What To Do???

What the research says

What the Research Says…

  • Students need to be involved in constructing meaning

  • The vocabulary needs to be tied into the content, not recited

  • Listen, Speak, Read, Write!! ELPS

  • Re-teach, review, and reuse vocabulary in an engaging way CONSTANTLY!

Words are drab engage your students with vocab

A robust approach to vocabulary involves directly explaining the meanings of words along with thought provoking, playful, and interactive follow up.

Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002

Word wall

Word Wall

  • Content Word Wall

    • Colorful

    • Catchy Title

    • Words and Pictures

  • Test Vocabulary Word Wall

    • Color-coded

    • Sentence Strips

Vocabulary Card courtesy of Melissa Duncan



  • Excellent strategy for reviewing vocabulary

  • Keeps students engaged

  • Hands on approach that allows students to create their own meaning

Fly swatter vocabulary

Fly Swatter Vocabulary

  • Fly Swatter Vocabulary (use your word wall)\

    • Divide students into 2-3 lines.

    • The first student in each line receives a fly swatter or pointer

    • Call out a definition or example of a vocabulary word on the word wall

    • The first student to swat the correct word receives a point for their team

Magic squares

Magic Squares

  • Vocabulary Words are each given a letter.

  • Students match the numbers with the terms and record the number in the matching number box.

  • After they have matched all numbers, they can add up the rows and columns to make sure they got the ‘magic number’

    • If they did not, they messed up somewhere!

Sticky note secrets or human hot seat

Sticky Note Secrets or Human Hot Seat

  • Sticky Note Secret

    • In small groups or pairs, one student will put a sticky note on their forehead or a vocabulary card above their head, without looking.

    • The other students(s) will describe the vocabulary word and the guessing student will guess the word on their head

  • Human Hot Seat

    • The game is the same, but one student sits in a chair facing the class

    • On the board behind the student, write a vocabulary word for the class to describe

Total physical response

Total Physical Response

  • ELPS Strategy

  • Students use their whole body to demonstrate a vocabulary word

    • Example: Potential and Kinetic

Back words

Back Words

  • Each student puts a vocabulary word on his/her back.

  • Students walk around room asking only YES or NO questions about his/her word.

  • The game is finished when everyone has solved their word!

    • Example from the beginning of the year: “Am I an animal?”

    • Example from this week: “Am I living?,” “Is my word a process?”

Concept attainment

Concept Attainment

  • Provide “yes” and “no” examples.

  • Students derive definition/concept by picking out common attributes from the “yes” category.

  • Throw in a “twist.”

  • Discuss

Conga line

Conga Line

  • Split class in half and create two lines of students facing each other.

  • Teacher gives students a vocabulary word.

  • Students start by telling the person across from them the definition.

  • Students then rotate one person down the line and give them an example of the word.

  • Students move again and use the word in a sentence.

  • This can go on until you feel students have an understanding of the word!

Draw a word


  • Give students construction paper or create a new page in journal.

  • The top half of the page the students will illustrate a vocabulary word/concept.

  • Teacher will start the music and students move around the room. When the music stops students sit where they are.

  • Students will write the word for the picture, use it in a sentence, and write the definition on another students drawing.

On the move

On the Move

  • Teacher gives each student a sentence strip with a vocabulary word.

  • Students walk around the room as “word detectives” asking questions about their word.

  • Students can come up with their own questions or the teacher can provide something for students to gather and record information on.

Concept development

Concept Development

  • Provide pictures or words for students to sort into categories.

  • Students objective is to decide the title of the lesson and place all pictures or words into categories with common characteristics.

  • There must be at least TWO per category.

  • Students are deriving the concept.

Think pair share


  • Pick a strategy to take back and use in your classroom.

  • Discuss with a partner how you will use this strategy.

Story telling

Story Telling

  • Make it interactive

    • Thumbs up

    • Card sort

    • Secret Message Decoder

The story of family element

The Story of Family Element

  • Metal

  • Non-metal

  • Metalloid

  • Periodic Table of Elements

  • Magnetic

  • Shiny/Lustrous

  • Solid

  • Conductivity

  • Dull

Periodic table of elements

Periodic Table of Elements

Thank you for joining us

Thank you for joining us!

  • Aimee Ayers – aayers@lubbockisd.org

  • Jena Walters – jwalters@mesquiteisd.org

  • www.ciser.ttu.edu/outreach

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