Tag Archives: vocabulary instruction

Writer’s Block? Sentences at Your Fingertips!

Have you ever been trying to make vocabulary sentences and cannot come up with anything remotely creative?

I found a nifty way to come up with random sentences for vocabulary practice and quizzes.

The website “Words in a Sentence” @ wordsinasentence.com will spit out 10 unique sentences for many words.

One of the vocabulary words from The Giver is disposition.

Here are the results:

  • Even though the old man appeared grumpy, he really had a pleasant disposition.
  • His gloomy disposition aside, Jeremy is a very nice person.
  • Whenever my uncle was feeling ill, his friendly disposition disappeared.
  • Janice has a bright smile and a warm disposition.
  • Howard’s disposition is often determined by the type of day he has at work.
  • Because I rarely smile, I am not known for my agreeable disposition.
  • With her inquisitive disposition, Sarah is an ideal candidate for the detective’s position.
  • Even though Eric had an awful day at the office, he still managed to have a welcoming disposition at his party.
  • Claudia’s cheery disposition has opened a lot of modeling doors for her.
  • Although he may look ferocious, my pit bull has a gentle disposition.

There are only 1500 words and it’s definitely geared towards more complex vocabulary, but it’s made things a little easier for me.  I like that there are a variety of sentences from simple to complex and that they are used in a variety of ways. I think these sentences would be great for context clues or having students fill in the blank with the correct word. This site could also provide mentor sentences for language/grammar.

Here’s a another example for inexorable from A Wrinkle in Time.

  • Of course, the public is enraged by the inexorable rise in gas prices.
  • Following her husband’s sudden death, Elaine went into an inexorable depressive state.
  • The inexorable truth is that Shelley is going to die within six months because she has cancer.
  • Because James hit a police officer while driving drunk, he knows it is an inexorable fact he will serve jail time.
  • In hopes of regaining their land, the army started an inexorable march through the country.
  • Mary did not want to watch the movie because she knew the plot contained an inexorable tragedy.
  • In his desire to make sure he was ready for the triathlon, Jason was inexorable when it came to following his training routine.
  • The changing of the seasons is an inexorable event because there is nothing you can do to stop one season from leading into another.

Now, if I could just figure out and remember how to say the word, “inexorable.” It’s one of those words that escapes me every time I try to say it in class!

Do you know of any other sites with similar features?

Where do you get your sentences for vocabulary?

Please share in the comments if you do!

Differentiated Vocabulary Boosting Activities

There are a lot of theories about teaching vocabulary.  Are you bored with your method? Is it not working as well as you’d like it to? Are you looking for something other than flash cards or your standard vocabulary activities?

Try some of these activities I created for our 7th grade Inclusion Language Arts class.  These activities allow for differentiation, discussion, and real world experiences with vocabulary words taught in class.

We are currently using these activities with vocabulary from A Wrinkle in Time.  The students were broken into appropriate groups (test scores and our best judgement), and each group received 2 or 3 of these activities to complete.

The activities require students to make connections, use vocabulary in short narrative paragraphs, break words into syllables, identify word parts and parts of speech, use metacognitive strategies, and discuss and use vocabulary with peers in real conversation.

I am attaching the PDF (Differentiated Vocabulary Activities PDF) and I will also attach a link to a Word file you can save and edit for your own purposes. (Word version)

What are some of your favorite ways to teach vocabulary?

How do you differentiate your vocabulary assessments?

I’d love to hear your ideas!

Authentic Vocabulary Instruction Using Edmodo

I have been struggling with two things in particular lately.

1) How to best use the limited technology that I have available to me
2) How to increase my students’ vocabulary

I am trying at all costs to avoid: looking words up in a glossary, copying definitions, matching words and definitions on a test, and completing worksheets to teach vocabulary. It’s boring, it’s ineffective, and I’m not seeing results.

Vocabulary instruction like this does not help kids make connections and any memorization that may occur…simply doesn’t last.

I wanted something authentic, interactive, and hopefully technology-based for use in our small, fairly outdated computer lab.

I spent over two hours researching ideas the other night and ended up with way too many of the same old ideas, nothing that I envisioned as I started out, and a headache.

Feeling overwhelmed and guilty I wasted two hours of my night during the busiest time of year, I took a break and came back to the computer after dinner with a plan in mind.

I used the “Polls” on Edmodo to create 6 vocabulary-based questions for our upcoming novel, Stargirl.

I chose some particular vocabulary words that I knew I would need to explain to my students as we were reading the novel: mesa, saguaro, ukulele, cactus, canyon, and porcupine. Students also had to understand a little about Arizona and where it was located.

Here is a final product of one student. Read the process below to see how he came up with this.

Here is a final product of one student. Read the process below to see how he came up with this.

Here are my six questions: (and their votes)

What is a “saguaro”? Research the word and make your choice. Find a picture and insert it into a Word document. Be sure to label the picture.

  • a type of boat 0 vote(s)
  • a type of flower 0 vote(s)
  • a type of cactus 75%, 3 vote(s)
  • a type of car 25%, 1 vote(s

Which of these would not be found in Arizona? Find pictures of the three found in Arizona.

  • canyon 0 vote(s)
  • mesa 14.29%, 1 vote(s)
  • grass 57.14%, 4 vote(s)
  • cactuses 28.57%, 2 vote(s)

What animal has quills? Find a picture of this animal.

  • a shark 0 vote(s)
  • a muskrat 0 vote(s)
  • a porcupine 100%, 7 vote(s)
  • an octopus 0 vote(s)

Which state does not touch Arizona? Find a map that shows this.

  • Utah 0 vote(s)
  • California 12.5%, 1 vote(s)
  • Texas 87.5%, 7 vote(s)
  • New Mexico 0 vote(s)

What instrument is a “ukelele” related to? Find a picture.

  • a trumpet 0 vote(s)
  • a guitar 100%, 7 vote(s)
  • a piano 0 vote(s)
  • a harmonica 0 vote(s)

What is a road runner? Find a picture of a famous one and a real one.

  • a type of internet service 0 vote(s)
  • a very fast bird 100%, 5 vote(s)
  • a type of race 0 vote(s)
  • a car part 0 vote(s)

I reminded my students how to enter a search term in Google, locate an image, and create a mini-poster using Word. We’ve been working on computer skills lately, so this was good practice of the steps for inserting a picture and formatting the picture.

The students had to answer the poll questions while doing their research. Because there was no “right answer” given, students were not as likely to share answers with their neighbors.

Students had two windows open on Firefox and a Word document open. They had to turn in the assignment on Edmodo when they were finished.

It may not seem like a lot, but for my students this was a big task. These kids were multi-tasking and learning.

When we return from break, they will share their posters on the SMARTBoard.

So, this is not the most traditional use of a poll, but it provided enough motivation and variety for my students to keep it interesting and help them learn the vocabulary.

Here is what I loved about this activity:

  • Students didn’t touch a single worksheet during this lesson.
  • Students were not asked to memorize or write a definition.
  • Instead, students found their own definitions by researching.
  • Students had to use some logic and reasoning skills to eliminate and determine search terms.
  • Students practiced computer skills (Word, Google search, and Edmodo)
  • Students now have a visual for when we start the novel after break. Students will share their products on the SMARTBoard when they return.
  • Students were engaged for two 40-minute periods in an authentic learning activity.
  • Students have made meaningful connections with half a dozen words that they had little prior knowledge of.
  • I am inspired to create more activities similar to this one.

How do you teach vocabulary? Do you have some ideas that will meet my goal for authentic vocabulary instruction? Share your ideas with the comment link at the top of this post.

Vocabulary Graphic Organizers

One way to teach vocabulary is to use graphic organizers. Here is a PDF file of the Semantic Maps I use most often. I wanted to attach my SMART Notebook file as well, but I don’t think that is an option. If you would like a copy, leave a comment and I will email the file to you.

I created these years ago, based on others I have seen so I can’t really take credit for coming up with them. I also don’t know where these ideas came from.

I keep a stack of each of these organizers on a shelf so when the need comes up, I have copies ready to go. These pages are small enough they can be trimmed and will fit nicely when glued into a composition book.

If these don’t fit your needs, a quick Google search will lead you tons of graphic organizers for all ages, grade levels, and subjects.

Google tip: Did you know that by clicking “images” on the left hand side of Google the search becomes much visual-learner friendly? This is the most common way I search for materials and resources for my class. It saves me from clicking on useless links.

Here is a screen shot of a search using images:

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Teaching Vocabulary in Real-World Context

We read The Outsiders at the start of the year and one important piece of reading the novel is acquiring new vocabulary.

The other day I wrote about using visuals to reach all learners. When I am working with students with disabilities, ESL/ELL, or at-risk students I find that getting on their level and in their world helps them make connections, especially in vocabulary.

Here is the vocabulary list for The Outsiders (one word per chapter). Each day a new word is presented and students are asked to copy the word and definition. They also need to locate the sentence in the novel and write it in their journal. This list is used with most of the 8th grade classes.

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Here are some sample pages from the SMARTNotebook file I created for our inclusion class. The definitions are not only pared down a bit, but each page includes a graphic and the sentence from the novel.

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As we review the vocabulary and later test over it, students can picture Judge Judy and Wile E. Coyote and apply this knowledge.

20120726-123606.jpg

For the above example, we will connect it to a student athlete in the class and always refer to him when we discuss this vocabulary word. “Andy cannot believe that the Tigers beat them last Friday night.”

Because these vocabulary words are made on SMARTNotebook, students can download them from our Edmodo page, view them online, or print them and cut them out to make flashcards. (You have to print to the “large” or “medium” setting for usable flashcards.) I typically provide a copy of these to each of the students who require such an accommodation on their IEP. I also make a class set to use for review games during our intervention study hall.

I think this method of teaching vocabulary works because it helps students:
Who are visual/picture smart (obviously)
Who are book/word/linguistic smart (as the word becomes part of a very short “story”)
Who are people smart (as they get involved with the “characters” in the examples)
Who are tactile/kinesthetic/body smart (as they manipulate the flashcards)

And it should be no surprise, It is also way more fun to teach vocabulary like this.

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