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At the end of each CIA unit of study are the pages of the Vocabulary Handbook.  I make sure that the handbook is copied for each student and hole-punched so they can keep it in their binders.  I have written all the vocabulary words on sentence strips.  Each day I post it in the pocket chart above the turn and talk stem for the day.  After the day’s lesson I put the word card in the Vocabulary pocket chart so students can see it whenever they need to.

We begin each lesson with vocabulary instruction.  I follow the Vocabulary Mini-Lesson Routine provided by Sarah.  The hard part is keeping the lesson to ten minutes.  Students like talking about the words.  They also appreciate the context clues for each word.  They like the little hint they get about the reading for each day.

Students get the opportunity to really study words in a reading context.  They get to look at the parts of the words and use the prefix, root, and suffix lists to help them understand that these parts of words carry the meaning.  They also get to contrast this learning with the Words Their Way word work they do in spelling to help them identify the sounds that make up words.  We also talk about the syllables that make up the words and we can use them to help us spell these words too.

The words Sarah has chosen for the units are the words 5th graders will encounter in much of their reading.  Students are noticing these words in other reading they are doing.  They also notice when the words appear again in another unit and are happy that they know the word.  It also gives us a chance to see if the word is being used in a different context.

Students like figuring out what the words mean and noticing what the word is not.  They like thinking about Text to World connections and relating it to their lives.  We often have very interesting conversations about how they will remember the word.  Sometimes the words bring up issues in their lives and they relate the words to those things.  I find out new information about my students by carefully listening to what they say during our vocabulary lessons.

Students also enjoy thinking about the contrasting words. Recently, we studied the words “destiny vs. coincidence” from Holes.  Students commented on how these words helped us understand Stanley.  He was affected by destiny and coincidence.

Sometimes when we are working on vocabulary, I look up words in the dictionary to show students how and when they can use this tool.

At first, using the vocabulary words in turn and talk takes time and practice.  My group this year will need some extra practice with using the vocabulary.  I will be consistently checking for word use to support student thinking.  Many of my students also have limited vocabularies so any practice will help them improve their comprehension.

Another area I want to assess is their ability to use the vocabulary words in the writing tasks throughout the unit. I am thinking about how to keep the vocabulary words already studied in the forefronts of their minds.  It is important for students to continue practicing with the words to insure repetition.

On the Read Side by Side website, I noticed that one teacher quizzes students on word meanings.  I thought about keeping my vocabulary words for each unit posted in my classroom, but I do not have enough room on my walls.  So I am still thinking about a solution.  I could put them on a chart that I could post in the room for student reference, or type them up for students to put in their word study folders.

I consider the vocabulary portion of our lesson as critical to student learning. Vocabulary knowledge is necessary for comprehension and is one more piece that students need to feel confident and capable as readers.


Written by Lynn Boze --- 5th Grade Teacher