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Vocabulary Development in Advanced Placement English Language and Composition. Individualized Vocabulary Development (IDV)-1.

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Individualized Vocabulary Development (IDV)-1

  • In pairs, students record three words per day over the course of a week or two. These words may come from their reading, from vocabulary lists, or from a partner’s research. After collecting nine words, the pair will be tested.

  • Students talk with partner about the words, definitions, and usage. Later, this pair of students will be tested for spelling, definition, and use in sentence for each word (3 x 3 x 3 = 27 points).

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Individualized Vocabulary Development-2

  • Nine new vocabulary words and definitions are recorded on index cards and in students’ notebooks.

  • The teacher can review the cards for appropriateness and accuracy to ensure that students understand definitions.

  • Test: A student will read the nine words to two students from their card. Eventually, all students will test each other, and the teacher will collect the cards and grade the tests with the cards.

  • The teacher relies on student cards in order to grade the tests.

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Individualized Vocabulary Development-3

  • Benefits

    • Students take responsibility for their own vocabulary growth, a responsibility they should be assuming.

    • Student create lists that are appropriate for them as individual learners—not too difficult and, notably, not too easy.

    • Responsibility for generating content lies with students, not the teacher.

    • Teacher grades but does not develop the test.

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Other Approaches to Developing Vocabulary-1

  • The teacher may generated glosses of words in an assigned reading and later test students.

    • The teacher generates perhaps 10 per essay, 40 per longer work.

    • Teacher gives the word, its definition, and page number.

    • Glosses convey the nuances of definitions:

      • This word has this denotation in this context.

      • Students may discover other meanings for the word.

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The Vocabulary of Rhetoric: Synonyms of assert

  • Synonyms include affirm, aver, avow, declare, establish, express, state. Using these verbs appropriately will enliven and elevate student writing. (Cf. believe, relay, say, write.)

  • Research and discuss the denotations and connotations of these words.

  • Use a thesaurus only for gathering synonyms and a college-level dictionary for defining them. See the Synonyms resource in the dictionary.

  • Avoid thinking like a thesaurus: A = B and B = C; ergo, A = C.

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critique, defend, challenge, justify


contrast, generate, interpret, validate


deduce, differentiate, infer


extend, relate, transfer


describe, generalize, summarize


identify, list, sequence

The Vocabulary of Rhetoric: Selected Verbs of Bloom’s Taxonomy

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The Vocabulary of Rhetoric: Rhetorical Terms

  • Classical appeals: ethos, pathos, logos

  • Argumentative structure: deductive, inductive

  • Logic: syllogism, enthymeme

  • Elements of style: diction, imagery, syntax, “sound and sense,” paragraphing

  • Selected Greek terms (to be used very cautiously): anaphora, chiasmus, syllepsis (cf. zeugma)

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The Vocabulary of Rhetoric: Tone Terms

  • Develop a list of tone words for students to master.

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The Vocabulary of Rhetoric: Cause and Effect

  • Because, Since

  • Therefore

  • Consequentially

  • As a result ….

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  • Have students work through denotations and connotations as they gain more experience in understanding definition.

  • Define denotation.

  • Define connotation.

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Denotation and Connotation

  • Denotation (L., marking down) and definition (L., closing or limiting down) both have etymologies that convey restriction (down).

  • Connotation (L., marking with) suggests an association with the denoted meaning.

  • Encourage students to use denotation and connotation in their analyses and in their compositions.

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  • Genus and differentia (classification)

  • Example: safety pin, n., a pinbent back on itself and having the point held in a guard

  • Like genus and species (Homo sapiens), there is a hierarchy with genus and differentia.

  • Analyze the differentia of these pins:

    • cotter pin, straight pin, bobby pin, rolling pin, bowling pin, fraternity or sorority pin, hat pin, hairpin (then, hairpin turn)

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Conventions of Definition: How do we learn to define?

  • Context is primary

    • Reading (and mispronunciation [“grimace”])

    • Conversation in home and classroom: Raising the level of consciousness of language

  • Dictionary (College-level)

    • Usage notes

      • See “hopefully,” “impact,” “infer.”

    • Synonyms (preferable to thesaurus)

      • See “assert”

  • Thesaurus (the dangerous weapon!)

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Analyzing Definition

  • Convention and tradition

  • Negation

  • Comparison

  • Analogy

  • Example (Exemplification)

  • Hierarchy: Genus and differentia