Learning Vocabulary through Context
Lesson 10 of 10
Objective: Students will be able to determine the meaning of words as they are used in the text by predicting and checking a dictionary for accuracy.
This week we're reading about Susan B. Anthony, who never lived to see women receive voting rights.
Today we're looking at proper nouns. We're not writing in German, so we can't take the easy way out and capitalize ALL THE NOUNS! No, we have to know if a noun is proper or common, and my students struggle with this so much. Proper nouns are names of specific places, people, and things. Common nouns name general people, places, or things. We also tried to trick them a bit in the fourth line by capitalizing vote and leaving a huge space. If you're not reading, you'd just put a period in that space. Unfortunately, I was out sick today, so I'm not sure if anyone fell for it.
On Friday, students gave me the list of words that they felt we needed to discuss. They were the same words I would have chosen, with extra words. They chose more words than I would have. But they're their words, so it's more powerful. If they complain, I get to say, "Hey, you chose these words!" But they didn't, which is even better.
Today I gave them the list of words that they'd chosen. I did make the mistake of having two different lists for first and fourth hour. I need to stop doing that for my own sanity. Remind me to do that next time, okay?
We first used context to figure out the meaning of the words. I'd given them the page number so they could easily find the word and copy the sentence down in the second column. For my co-taught classes, I'll type up the sentences myself. There's no need to use important class time for copying things. In the third column, they used the context to make a prediction. Finally, they looked the word up to see how close they were.
See the picture below for an example. I chose to model the word incisive. My prediction was that it was like a commander, because of the additional adjective commanding and because his voice made them stop. When I looked it up in the dictionary, I saw that it meant sharp and clear-thinking. Therefore, I gave myself a check minus. I was on the right track, but I didn't get it quite right. I also made sure to go back and write down the part of speech.
I gave students the entire hour to work on this assignment. Mostly because they needed it, and mostly because it was something that a substitute could easily do that was still reading and writing intensive. When I returned on Tuesday, some of the students hadn't finished, so they had to work on this at home.
This video has five or six of the vocabulary words with the entire sentence. What's neat about this is that even with these sentences, you can see how the mood progresses from neighborly comfort to suspicion and danger.