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April Literacy Tip

Dear Colleagues,

Happy Spring or rather, Joyful Spring Wishes, word conscious learner!!  So, how’s it going, portraying a positive role model, demonstrating interest and enthusiasm for word learning?  The March Literacy Tip outlined two tips for creating word conscious learners, learners who are enthusiastic about learning new words, their meanings, and their power. This issue will highlight two more ideas for creating word conscious students. 
 
Tip #3 – Word Walls – “Out of sight, out of mind.”  Because research shows that words need to be used at least six times before students internalize their meanings, words can be displayed on a word wall.  Teachers record new or interesting words on butcher/chart paper hung to the wall.  Words can be organized into categories according to a theme, concept, story, or letter patterns.  Words walls provide quick and easy access for students when speaking, during writing activities, when defining other words, or as a reference.  Students who are listening for new words will suggest additions to the word wall.
 
The Words of the Week activity (below) is a meaningful way to extend the use of a word wall.  For example, during the Olympics, an ELL teacher teamed up with a classroom teacher to teach vocabulary words and concepts pertaining to the Olympics.  Words investigated as part of the “Words of the Week” were recorded on the word wall.  Students were encouraged to listen for each word as it was used in other contexts; they also read information about the Olympics and Olympic heroes to reinforce the new words. 

Words of the Week

Mystery Monday: Introduce and discuss the words, arriving upon a written definition.
Telling Tuesday: Students talk about the words, multiple meanings, what they know about them.
Wordy Wednesday: Students write their own definitions and use the words in sentences.
Thoughtful Thursday: Word study focuses on synonyms, antonym, prefixes, and suffixes.
Fun Friday: Games such as “Who has/I have” are played using targeted vocabulary.
Taken from “Strategic Reading and the English Language Learner” in Strategic Reading in the Content Areas, 2nd Edition.
 
Some teachers use puns, riddles or games as a source for adding words to the word wall.  More on this enticing idea in the May Literacy Tip!  Remember to encourage students to use words listed on the word wall in their Reading Journal (see January 2013 Literacy Tip.)
 
Tip #4 – Research the Origins or History of Words – A great starting point is to encourage students’ to search for the meaning of words linked to food and/or customs unique to their cultures.  For example, a Kolache is a Czech or Slovak pastry consisting of fillings ranging from fruits (including poppy seed, raspberry, and apricot) to cheeses inside a bread roll.  Sabotage comes from the Dutch wooden shoe (sabot) that was thrown into the weaving machine by disgruntled workers to shut it down.  Another category for the word wall explained above is “Word Origins.”  Watch students enthusiastically add words to the classroom word wall that pertain to their daily lives. 
 
Word conscious learners begin to take notice of words they read, hear, and those they write or speak.  A few minutes of “word-play” each day is a motivating yet a simple way to expand vocabulary and improve comprehension.  Don’t wait; begin now to encourage word conscious learners who will enjoy learning words throughout their entire life. 
 
Check out the many websites that provide enticing ideas for word play.  An amusing website is www.fun-with-words.com.  Many teachers are Pinterest enthusiasts; visit pinterest.com/crafterhi/stampin-up-word-play-ideas.
 
Current research on vocabulary development as well as numerous ideas for building vocabulary is outlined in Strategic Reading in the Content Areas, 2nd edition.  Eight vocabulary development strategies are outlined in Strategies to Engage the Mind of the Learner, 2nd edition and assessment ideas for vocabulary development are described in Capturing All of the Reader Through the Reading Assessment System, 2nd edition.
 
Please forward this email to other interested colleagues.  Interested readers can go to www.rachelbillmeyer.com to sign up for future Literacy Tips.
 
Wishing you continued pleasure in creating word enthusiasts,
Rachel and Associates