Vocabulary Word Sort

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Students will be able to clarify the meaning of unfamiliar words by rereading a passage, writing a quickwrite, and completing a word sort.

Big Idea

Students use a student-generated vocabulary list to help understand an author's motivation for writing.

Daily Grammar

15 minutes

This wee I'm continuing in my quest to show students that not every word that ends in s is possessive.  It could be a possessive, or it could just be plural. Or it could be a contraction. Or it could be a verb that requires the ending s.

Word Sort

15 minutes

I learned about this activity some years ago at  conference.  Every year I think that I should use it more often and every year I just sort of forget about it, which is a shame because it's a pretty nifty activity that takes no prep for me and requires students to think deeply about their vocabulary in order to more deeply understand the words and make connections between the words.

The first step requires students to write each word on a separate slip of paper.  I have one student take out a sheet of paper and tear it in to fourteen parts.  This takes way longer than it needs to because some students are perfectionists.  Once the paper is divided, each word gets put on its own slip of paper.

Then, I directed students to sort the words into categories.  Those are the directions.  I don't tell them what the categories are, or how many words go in each category.  Just sort the words into three categories.  The number of categories doesn't really matter.  It could be two, three, four, five, whatever.  What's important is that you don't tell students what the categories are.  That's for them to figure out.

How do they figure out the categories?  By considering the meaning of the words and making connections. 

Since this is the first time we've done this (why, oh why didn't I remember this in September?), most of the categories were kind of meh.  Most groups divided them into either "Words We Know," "Words We Kinda Know," and "Words We Don't Know" or "Verbs," "Adjectives" and "Nouns."   Both have instructional merit.  How do you know a word is a noun?  Could it also be used as a verb? 

The gems, though, were the groups that had categories like "Social Media," "Challenges," and "Other."  Another group had "Censorship," "Motivators," and "Doesn't Fit." 

I was able to save a bit of time by having first hour create the slips.  Then I saved them for fourth hour. 

Second Read, Now with Meaning

10 minutes

Once we'd discussed the words, we read the Serling biography again.  This time, with a deeper understanding of the words, the author's ideas were clearer.

I had students take turns reading the paragraphs aloud, and we had a discussion of what made sense now that they understood some of the words better.

Then students wrote a paragraph explaining how their understanding of the words impacted their understanding of the author's ideas.

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