Strategies for Content Specific Vocabulary

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SWBAT use context clues to generate synonyms to determine the meaning of terms used in an informational selection.

Big Idea

Generate synonyms based on context clues to tackle challenging words with ample opportunities to read lots of text on high interest topics

My Lens

I am looking forward to seeing the students engage with this material.  I chose to show a video of naked mole rats because they are so unusual and strange!  My students love the unusual and strange and will be captivated by the video clip.  I will leverage the excitement and engagement for these critters into the task of comprehending the video transcript by generating synonyms for tier two academic words.  The content of this lesson- Naked Mole Rats- is engaging and familiar.  Earlier in the year students heard the read aloud Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed and participated in a class in a community building activity.  The students will be motivated to figure out the meanings of new words in a passage about a high interest topic.  Students are naturally curious. This activity will channel their curiosity and excitement as they use their thinking and imagination and suggust synonyms for new vocabulary.

To ensure success and access for all my students I will offer structured choice.  Structured choice increases success and engagement.  The students will be offered the choice of writing ten synonyms  or more if they choose of the twenty words listed on worksheet #2.  It is important to me that  every student is successful with the activity.  I will  allow them to choose which ten words they work on. At the same time, I want to challenge my students at higher reading levels to think of synonyms for all twenty words or to pick ten of the harder words.   



15 minutes

"Students, today you are going to learn a strategy to figure out new words when reading informational texts.  You will think of another word that means about the same thing based on the rest of the words in the sentence.

Let's start by you reading this text on Naked Mole Rats. Use your pencil to underline any words that your not sure how to say or what they mean.

Now, let's watch the video.  The words  the narrator is saying is what you just read.  It's called the transcript of the video."

Play video. Naked Mole Rats.

"Today, I am going to teach you how to substitute another word in a blank for the words I thought might be new for you. One way we do that is by using the other words in the sentence as clues.

Readers figure out the meaning of new words by using the other words in the sentence and then coming up with a synonym for the challenging word that makes sense.

Now I will give you the first two paragraphs from the transcript of the video.  On this transcript you will have to generate synonyms for the underlined and bolded words!

Here, take a look at this handout."  Show hand out #1 on doc or computer

"Work together with your partners- everyone should be able to have another word on each blank. Let's watch the video again to help us figure out what the author means.  The video really helps because it is making the pictures for us.  

Check in with students' progress and understanding by having students volunteer to come up to doc camera and write in a synonym for bolded word.

Now I have some independent work for you to do to practice this skill of figuring out new words by writing a synonym next to the word.  

Show handout #2 under doc camera.  

Please work on this when you return to your seat.  Once you finish with ten words or more- I would like you to read in your independent reading books and look for challenging words and use today's strategy to figure out what they mean.

Before we head off to independent read let's set up our RRN.  Open to the next page.  Write today's date and title of your book at the top. Let's make a heading for this page by writing: Developing our Vocabulary!

Today as you read please use your post-it notes and write down interesting new words you come across.  How about 10-20 words and a synonym for each?  (We will meet in strategy groups to define them- but if want you can write a synonym next to it.)  As you expand your knowledge of the world and the things in it you will also be developing your vocabulary!  I am going to be noticing what smart things you do by asking you to share some of the new words you come across as you read with your partners and with the class.


Independent Reading

40 minutes

I will dismiss students to their table groups so they can finish worksheet #2 and then begin their independent reading.   I will observe student behavior for a few minutes before I walk around the classroom to check to see that all students have put their name and date on their paper and have started working.  While I am observing students I am looking for which table groups get right to work, how they are helping or hindering each other. I will compliment the class on getting right to work and being focused. I also give out table points for groups where everyone is doing the right thing. I spend quite a bit of time figuring out synergistic seating arrangements and table groupings. Classroom synergy is when the combinations and interactions of the students produce an effect that is greater than the sum of the individual students efforts. 

After a few more minutes, I will lead a few table conferences. Leading a  5 minute table conference is a good way to support four students at once.  I will go to the table that is working well together and compliment them and ask to hear a couple of synonyms.   Then, I might go to a table group that I know has a couple of students who need additional assistance because of ELL, SPED, or behavior issues. First, I will notice  the progress a particular student in the group has made. I will ask that student to suggest a synonym a word on the worksheet #2 and explain their thinking. I will continue in this manner, getting to as many tables as I can.  

Today during independent reading I will be mentally and physically taking notes to determine who would benefit from strategy groups in the next few days.  I decide who will benefit by a being part of a strategy lesson using my background knowledge of students and the learning objective.  I have two overarching questions I ask myself. 1. How can I use the adults who are in my room at different times effectively to support student learning?  2. How can I create diverse groups so students can learn from each other? Once I think through these two questions, I am able to plan for the following: How am I going to differentiate for students with IEPs? How will I engage distracted students? How will I support ELL students? How will I extend the activity for advanced students?  

Toward the end of the session, I will remind students they will be sharing their words and meanings with a partner from a different table. Also, students will be able to share the new vocabulary words from their independent reading with the class by putting their RRN under doc camera for all to see.