I ask my students to tell me why vocabulary is important to our reading, writing, and speaking. I ask students to try and tell me how vocabulary comes into play in each of these areas. We have a brief discussion on what makes up good vocabulary and why we need to use it.
Some of my favorite responses are simple and center around sounding smarter. I try to let students lead the discussion on vocabulary's importance. I try to just facilitate and keep the discussion going.
To practice and understand the power of juicier words, I ask them to get out their white boards. I will read them a book where the author chose specific words to give power to the story. As I read I would like them to write down the powerful vocabulary words. I further explain that the story would not be as meaningful without the richer vocabulary words.
The book I read is Eight Days Gone by Linda McReynolds. It a poem/story written about the lunar landing. Each page only has a few words, but the vocabulary is key to the understanding of the story.
I begin to read and pause on each page to make sure the students have a chance to write down vocabulary words.
Once I have read the story, we will now share and check the words we chose with each other. I will reread the story and stop on each page to discuss the juicier word. This part confirms that they can listen and spot interesting words. We go page by page and determine the meanings if needed.
When we have finished, I ask the class to discuss how these words helped the story. I also ask, "if the story would be as good without these words?" The class goes over word choice and the power they gave the book. We also talk about the story being more like a poem and how word choice mattered because their were less words than a regular story.