Over the course of the year, I will formally introduce students to at least 100 new vocabulary words.
I distribute 5 new words each Monday.
On Monday nights, students illustrate their flash cards, which means they paste an image -- one that triggers the respective definition for a given word -- on the front of each card.
On Tuesdays, students familiarize themselves with their new words by studying the words on Quizlet, an online studying site.
On Wednesdays, students complete study tables. To do this, students read, recite, repeat, and write their new words into a categorized table that includes the spelling of the word; its part of speech; a definition; a synonym; another form of the word; and the word in context.
On most Thursdays, student study their flash cards. On other Thursdays, however, students will attempt to use their new vocabulary in context, writing creative pieces of their choice -- chapters, story starters, vignettes, fictional postcards, newspaper articles real or imagined, and so on... Often, I connect this writing assignment to a current topic from class, such as characterization, imagery, or poetry. These creative pieces are intended to give students a chance to integrate their new vocabulary words into topics they enjoy. Parents, please feel free to have your child read his or her work to you. It never hurts to get a little help with the subtleties of a word, its connotations, and the contexts within which a word is most likely to fit. The aim of this study is, initially, just familiarization. Over the long term, however, I hope that students will gain mastery of their words, choosing the right word for the right situation without making their writing stilted. This, of course, takes time, repeated exposure, and guidance.
On Fridays, students continue to study their flash cards, and then, over the weekends, they take pre-quizzes to make sure they know their new words.
On the third Monday of each vocabulary cycle, I give students a quiz on the previous weeks' 10 new words. I expect students to know all parts of the word, not just the definition.
There are two comprehensive vocabulary tests, one in the winter and theother in the spring. Each test is comprised of 50 words. As a result,it is very important that students keep good care of their vocabularyspirals, as they represent a student's primary means for studying.
Parents, please feel free to help your child with studying. Students should study early and often rather than relying on last-minute "cramming." With their busy schedules, students tend to resort to cramming, but this can yield deceptive results, with students scoring well on quizzes but then quickly losing retention of the word.
Throughout the year, I allow students to bring in copies of texts where they find their vocabulary words in context. For example, if a student finds one of her words in the newspaper, she may bring in a copy of the word and receive extra credit. I allow students to earn as many as 10 extra points per marking period. This demonstrates to me that students recognize the material they learn in school when they see it in "real-life" situations. I give detailed instructions in class on how to submit these extra credit words. Parents, feel free to ask your child about this so you can help out.