Vocabulary is something that I am still struggling with as a teacher. I notice that my vocabulary when speaking is not always higher order or challenging my students. I tend to ‘talk down’ my vocabulary, putting it in words that I believe are easier to digest and understand. Not only am I hurting myself with this I am also hurting my students.
So this is something that I am attempting to work on in my classroom. When I taught first grade vocabulary seems like another world. Our main vocabulary words were our Sight words. This was to help students learn to read and add to their writing and speaking. These are the words that tradition phonics typically can not help you decode and you must learn then my memory. With these as vocabulary words in the classroom we would display them on a word wall that was easily accessible to all students in the classroom. I would use them in reading and writing time giving students as much exposure as I could to them so they could see them in many different ways. I would also have them be a center activity so students were able to manipulate them and each for them. This was a great way to help my students with sight word vocabulary but when it came to over vocabulary I tend to have more troubles.
In first grade when we (my grade level) would pull vocabulary words from text/literature these were words that would help us better understand the text. When I would introduce these words, I would pair them with a picture and have students try to identify the word and relate to it. This was great but these words were not always engrained in their daily vocabulary. This gave students exposure to other words and we would try to use them in conversation but it was not always successful.
Now that I am teaching upper elementary grades I am having an even harder time using the appropriate vocabulary in lessons to help build higher order skills. Also word walls are not always seen in upper elementary. My goal last year was to have a word wall that my students and I would add to- nouns, verbs, adjectives, common words we all used. The plan was to color code them to help students, well my idea as great but never got put into place. So I am still trying to figure it out.
This year for vocabulary I had added a math word wall that has ‘flash cards’ for my students to use. They are hanging in a pocket chart and on the back of the card there is a picture and definition of out math word. This is one way I am trying to improve mine and my students math vocabulary. We use the words when learning the new skill and discussing it. I reference to the words for my students so they are to recognize them. This is something new to me but seems to be working so far. We are about to start a few vocabulary games with our math terms to help us add these words to our mathematic language so if and when we get to write like a mathematician we have the correct terminology. Hopefully I will be able to report back with how this is going in the classroom.