Developing meaning vocabulary
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Developing Meaning Vocabulary. Developing Meaning Vocabulary. Remember that vocabulary development is complex. Introduce vocabulary in authentic situations. Actively involve students in developing word knowledge Access and activate prior knowledge

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Developing Meaning Vocabulary

  • Remember that vocabulary development is complex.

  • Introduce vocabulary in authentic situations.

  • Actively involve students in developing word knowledge

  • Access and activate prior knowledge

  • Facilitate the development of independent vocabulary development

  • Review and reinforce vocabulary growth

  • Always present vocabulary in context


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What Does Research Say?

  • The influence of meaning vocabulary is one of the most enduring findings of educational research.

  • Vocabulary knowledge is among the best predictors of reading achievement.

  • Differences in children’s vocabularies develop even before school begins and are key to inequality of educational attainment.


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  • Direct instruction in word meanings is effective, can make a significant difference in a student’s overall vocabulary, and is critical for those students who do not read extensively.

  • Studies show that words should be processed deeply and repeatedly.

    Source: Words are wonderful: Interactive, time-efficient strategies to teach meaning vocabulary (Margaret Ann Richek, 2005)


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Classroom Implications significant difference in a student’s overall vocabulary, and is critical for those students who do not read extensively.

Use active approaches to learning vocabulary

  • Relate vocabulary to background knowledge and experience

  • Construct definitions and illustrate words

  • Dramatize words

  • Expand sentences

  • Use manipulatives

  • Develop concept cards

  • Connect to literature


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Classroom Implications (cont.) significant difference in a student’s overall vocabulary, and is critical for those students who do not read extensively.

  • Context clues

    Locate context clues

    Teach students to use context clues

  • Structural Analysis

  • Categorization

  • Analogies and Word Lines

  • Semantic Maps and Word Webs


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Classroom Implications (cont.) significant difference in a student’s overall vocabulary, and is critical for those students who do not read extensively.

  • Semantic feature analysis

  • Dictionary use

  • Word Origins and Histories

  • Figurative Language

  • Word Play

  • Computer Techniques

  • Special Words


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Presenting Vocabulary in Context significant difference in a student’s overall vocabulary, and is critical for those students who do not read extensively.

  • Contextualize the word within the story.

  • Have children say the word.

  • Provide a student-friendly explanation of the word.

  • Present examples of the word used in contexts different from the story context.

  • Engage children in activities that get them to interact with the words.

  • Read the story.

    Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2002).


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Sentence and Word Expansion significant difference in a student’s overall vocabulary, and is critical for those students who do not read extensively.

  • Take a simple sentence from a book or student’s paper and write it on the board.

  • Ask students to take each part of the sentence and replace it with more interesting words. Example: The dog is in the house.

    Santa, Carol, Havens, L., Maycumber, E. (1996)


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Semantic Feature Analysis significant difference in a student’s overall vocabulary, and is critical for those students who do not read extensively.

  • Feature analysis is a formal comparison of the aspects of meaning that define an entity or concept. It can be useful for differentiating terms.

  • Try marking the features of “cup,” “glass,” and “mug”.

  • To what extent do these words have “semantic overlap”?

    Moats, L. (2004)


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Word Play significant difference in a student’s overall vocabulary, and is critical for those students who do not read extensively.

  • Discuss puns and provide examples

  • Use Hink Pink, Hinky Pinkies, and Hinkety Pinketies

  • Crossword puzzles

  • Riddles and scavenger hunts

  • Silly questions

  • Write words to illustrate their meanings

  • Clue or 20 questions


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Recommended Reading significant difference in a student’s overall vocabulary, and is critical for those students who do not read extensively.

  • Bear, Donald, et al, Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

  • Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York: Guilford Press.


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