Vocabulary Donna Alvermann, Ph.D. Department of Language & Literacy Education University of Georgia PowerPoint by Achariya Rezak
Four criteria for selecting vocabulary: • Herber (1978) states that there are four criteria to keep in mind when selecting vocabulary to teach to a class: • The relation of the vocabulary word to key concepts covered in the material • The relative importance of the vocabulary word • Students' ability and background related to the word • The potential for enhancing independent learning about the word.
Relation to key concepts: • Teachers should only spend time with a word if it is necessary for the comprehension of the selection.
Relative importance: • Is the vocabulary word related to a central idea of the text? • Does it have a high value outside of specific selection? • Does the vocabulary word have resonance beyond school years?
Is the vocabulary word familiar to most students? Would linguistically diverse students know the word? Has the term been previously studied, and would a quick review be adequate? Do students have the skills to define the word themselves? Student background and ability:
Enhancing independent learning: • Teachers should teach strategies such as context clues, morphemic analysis, and dictionary skills to allow students to define a term on their own.
Guidelines for vocabulary instruction • Start with what students know, and build from there. • Give multiple exposures to new terms and concepts • Involve students in varied activities with terms and concepts • Teach to promote transfer, teach widely applicable words • Include discussion and the use of terms in students’ own words • Create a word-rich environment in the classroom.
Possible strategies for teaching vocabulary • In-class presentation: Teachers will write terms on the blackboard. Students are asked to share prior knowledge of the terms. Then the teachers should define the terms, and ask students to anticipate the terms in their content unit. • Semantic mapping: Teachers and students place key terms into a diagram known as a semantic map or web. These maps or webs arrange key words in clusters, with a main topic at the center. • Concept of Definition Map: Students answer three questions about a vocabulary word, related to its category (what is it?) and properties (what is it like?) and provide an illustration of the term (what are some examples?). • Semantic Feature Analysis: Teachers and students plot a chart of relationships between vocabulary and key concepts. • Possible Sentences: Students make sentences using at least two vocabulary words from a list on the board. Then students will look through the content unit for the terms, and decide whether their original sentences make sense. After classroom discussion, students make new sentences. • Selling Words: Teachers must generate interest in words by integrating word play into other classroom activities. • Visual Associations: Words are more easily remembered when connected to a strong visual image. One example of this, Vocabulary Squares, is a four-sectioned graphic representation that contains sections for the vocabulary word, the dictionary definition, use in a sentence, and an illustrative picture.
Summary-- • Four criteria are important to the selection of a vocabulary word to teach in a class: the word's relation to key concepts, the word's relative importance, student background related to the word, and the potential to enhance independent learning about the word. • There are several strategies for teaching vocabulary. One strategy is visual association such as the use of vocabulary squares.