May Literacy Tip

Dear Colleagues,

The May Literacy Tip concludes our focus on creating word conscious learners.  Our goal is to intensify student vocabulary knowledge by kindling, highlighting, and celebrating their interest in words.  This issue will offer three more tips that will transform students into powerful word learners.
Tip #5 – Word Play and Books – Highlight the use of interesting words in text, point out how authors arrange words to create varied effects and discuss how the writer’s choice of words enhances meaning, promotes curiosity, or creates feelings.  Introduce students to books that focus on word play.  Books by Fred Gwynne, The King Who Rained andChocolate Moose for Dinner, or the Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish focus on hilarious wordplay and zany humor that keeps children of all ages in stitches.  Get Thee to a Punnery by ingenious author Richard Lederer offers a humorous use of words representing more than one possible meaning for most content areas.  For example, complete the following sentences using the math or science terms: catalyst and centigrade.
            You keep track of cows and bulls on a _____.                      
            A nickel a grade is more expensive than a _____.
Tip #6 Word Games – Research reveals that word games are a powerful instructional word-learning device (Marzano, 2004, Covington, 1992).  Word games are a meaningful and enjoyable way to expand vocabulary; games can challenge a student’s capacity, yet allow the student to be in control of how much challenge is appropriate.  Some benefits of word games are – language interaction is encouraged, words are used in different contexts, and words can be analyzed from different perspectives.  Word games used by teachers are Scrabble, Boggle, Scatagories, Apples to Apples, Pictionary, and Balderdash.
Tip #7 – Act the Word Vocabulary Strategy – Create teams of students, assign each student on the team a role (actor, director, and coach), provide each team a word to act out, and watch the word learning fun begin.  Older students learn from and enjoy acting out vocabulary words that describe historical events, chemical reactions, math theorems, or musical performances.  For more information see Strategies to Engage the Mind of the Learner, 2nd edition page 26.
Word conscious learners are children interested, motivated, and excited about learning new words.  When teachers habitually use the seven tips outlined in the March, April, and May issues students will begin to take notice of words they read or hear and those they write or speak.  The final result = vocabulary development will soar, reading comprehension will advance, and academic achievement will climb.  Don’t wait; begin now to create word conscious learners who will enjoy learning words long into the future.
For more information on vocabulary development and creating word conscious learners check out Strategic Reading in the Content Areas, 2nd edition.  For vocabulary strategies check out Strategies to Engage the Mind of the Learner, 2nd edition.  Preview the Literacy and Learning Trilogy and Teaching Aids at
Please forward this email to other interested colleagues.  Interested readers can go to to sign up for future Literacy Tips.
Here’s to continued pleasure as you work to create enthusiastic word learners!
Rachel and Associates