Teaching academic vocabulary is an important part of literacy because it helps students understand new content. When students become proficient with academic language, they have an easier time reading. It also helps them acquire new knowledge through reading and listening.
This allows them to have improved conversations about academics and helps them become better writers and test-takers.
Check out my post here for tips on how to create individualized spelling word lists for your students!
So, how can we engage our students in academic vocabulary?
There are countless ways to teach academic vocabulary. Today, I want to share with you my favorite ways to teach academic vocabulary.
My students love to create word clouds. We use EdWordle to create free word art. I let the students type their words using their devices, then they print their art and color it. They keep their art in their journals and refer back to it when writing.
These art pieces are helpful for word recognition, spelling, and recall. They’re also helpful for students who are more visual thinkers.
This is a simple activity that you can use for any topic. When we were learning about Pioneers, I let my students record unknown words in the word quilt. They then used this quilt to research the meaning of words by recording examples, definitions, synonyms, etc. in their word journals.
Since each student had a different word quilt, they were personalized. There were no rules to which words they could add except for, they must be unknown words related to the topic. Doing this created a lot of conversation between the students about what was on their list and what the words meant.
This is an easy center you can do with any deck of vocabulary cards. All you need is your deck of vocabulary cards, a die, game pieces, and a game board. Next, place the cards face down. One player draws a card and reads it. Then, they follow the word rule.
This could be to use the word in a sentence, say a rhyming word, say the definition, etc. You choose this word. If the player does this correctly, then the player gets to roll the die and move their game piece the number of spaces from the die.
Students love playing partner games. This gives them an opportunity to talk about the words creating a ton of conversations and natural usage of academic vocabulary. You may also hear some giggles from your students because this is FUN!
If you haven’t realized it already, I like to give my students choices. Another way I do that is by giving my students vocabulary lists. I use these editable word activities for any spelling list.
Students use this list to choose their activity. I explicitly teach each activity with a worksheet until I see that my students are ready to use it in their journals independently.
Word choices are helpful because students are able to choose work that matches their favorite learning style. This motivates them and keeps them engaged the entire time!
You can also use these ideas to incorporate science and social studies into literacy blocks. Check out my post on how to do that here!
I hope these teaching ideas help you come up with exciting new ways to teach vocabulary. I can always tell an improvement in students overall performance when they are doing well with their vocabulary words.
Do you do any fun vocabulary activities with your students? Let me know in the comments!