Wednesday, 7 June 2017
Tackling New Vocabulary Strategies
Marc Milford is the Literacy Co-Ordinator (see his blog here) at Tamaki College, and yesterday presented some key strategies for teachers to help increase student's decoding skills of new words for our PCT meeting. We started by brainstorming the strategies we use, even as adults, to attack words we come across which we are unfamiliar of (see right). Marc quickly explained that students do not have these strategies, unless they are taught them, like we were. Therefore, even if we aren't English teachers, we need to be thinking about the texts we ask students to read, and how we are 'attacking' unfamiliar words with students.
See below Marc's presentation notes - we discussed some of the key problems/difficulties students have when attempting to make sense of a text and/or learn new words. One of the most common responses to new words I have seen in class, is giving up. Many of our students would rather give up, than try to break the word down, or to read around the word. As a result, their reading does not progress and they continue to struggle. Therefore, the mindset of a student towards their reading and vocabulary is incredibly important, as well as the strategies they are taught to attack words.
Throughout our discussion, I was thinking about how behind many of our students are, and the real need to accelerate our learners. Last year we spoke about the importance of talking, to be exposed to new words, that talking really does matter. Decile 1 students hear about 30 million less spoken words than their peers from other schools. Hence, the need to increase their vocabulary through reading, writing and discussions. The more students read, the more exposed they are to words, the more they recognise words and the more they put these words into practice. Our job is to help with this process.
As an addition to Marc's presentation and our discussion today, he provided us with the reading "8 Cs and a G" written by Dorothy Brown. Brown discusses her 9 strategies for teachers to support student vocabulary development, see my notes/thoughts about the reading here. I have reflected on the reading and today's session, and thought about how I could implement some of these strategies into my classes. I realised I am already doing many of them, but in different ways! See additional examples for English Language Leaners on TKI here.
Possible strategies moving forward:
- Use of clines for responses to exercise (acute through to chronic)
- Collocations and clusters can be used to create webs/brainstorms of similar words to the new word, and to link the new word with common words. Could also weave in SOLO hexagons.
- Use of a thesaurus to teach students how synonyms can support with new vocabulary
- I need more 'creativity' - so providing students with multiple ways to learn/revise/apply their knowledge more often, such as Drawings, Slides, videos or essays.
A quote which I loved from the reading I keep pondering is "if the guess was wrong, still an effort was made and that in itself is better than being passive in the learning process" (p. 111). So, as teachers, irrespective of our subject, we need to help with decoding, breaking down and attacking new words to support's student vocabulary!