7 Principle of Vocabulary Development

Building Experiential Background

  • Experiences form the foundations of vocabulary. Students must be given the concepts/labels to talk over their experiences.
  • Class trips, projects, experiments, handling artifacts, viewing computer simulations and demos, films, video, TV.
  • The key is to make the activity as concrete as possible.
  • Dramatizing words adds interest and reality when direct experience is not available.

Relating Vocabulary to Background

  • Relate new words to experiences that students may have had.
  • Ask students to respond to new words with some sort of personal judgement or observation. For example, "Where have you seen a ?" "Tell about something or someone that is --- ." "Describe the most _ person/place/thing that you can think of."

Building Relationships

  • Show how new words are related to each other.
  • Synonyms, antonyms, classifying words, completing graphic organizers.
  • Semantic maps, pictorial maps, word webs, venn diagram, semantic feature analysis charts

Developing Depth of Meaning

  • Definitions are superficial and do not clearly indicate how a word should be used.
  • Students should be asked to place new vocab. words in context, and NOT to write sentences.
  • Experience with words in several contexts broadens and deepens understanding.
  • Exploring word histories helps shed light on meaning and can function as a memory device for that word.

Presenting Several Exposures

  • Words should appear in different contexts so that students experience their shades of meaning.
  • 2-10 exposures are necessary for new vocab.
  • Vocab. knowledge is the most important predictor of reading comprehension.

Creating an Interest in Words

  • "Word Wizards" get credit by noting examples of new vocab. outside the classroom and reporting it to the group.
  • Puns, limericks, riddles and jokes encourage students to have fun with words.
  • Sesquipedalian words (Sesqui=one and one half, ped=foot) foot and a half or very long words.
  • Word of the day
  • Predict-o-gram Students predict which words would be used to describe the setting, characters, problem, plot, and solution before reading a text.

Teaching Student How to Learn New Words

  • Independent word-learning skills
  • context clues, morphemic analysis, dictionary skills
  • direct teaching of strategies readers use to learn words independently.

Words Are Wonderful Activities

Story Impressions__ Students internalize vocab. meanings by using words in a certain order to compose their own story before they read a published story. This is done whole-group. An overhead projector or computer display monitor are used.
  1. The teacher chooses key words (5-20) from a story or chapter and lists them (vertically) in order they appear in the story.
  2. Briefly discuss each one, asking if anyone knows what it means or can use it in a sentence. Refine concepts or supplement ideas.
  3. Next, tell the students that they are going to compose a story using the words. They must be used in the order in which they appear, but after a word in introduced it may be used again.
  4. Students work as a whole-group and compose a sensible---if at times fanciful--story using the words. The story must have a beginning, middle and end. Clarify meanings of words as necessary. The story is written for all to see. (approx. 20 min.)
  5. Reread, revise and edit the story. Add "juicy" details and adjectives, combine short sentences, create paragraphs and provide motives for actions in the story.
  6. Publish the story, add illustrations if desired.