Discovering Our Vocabulary

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SWBAT determine the words they feel are most relevant to learn for a particular unit or lesson section.

Big Idea

Ownership of learning increases the chances that student will retain the content. Vocabulary can be tricky and to create this buy in, this lesson asks for students to choose the words they feel they should learn for part of a unit.

CLOSE Reading

20 minutes

Students have learned to read CLOSELY and annotate text. When it is informational text, and text that appears difficult, I ask that they use their annotation strategies when reading the new information. When reading I ask that they focus on underlining important information from each paragraph, circle new, unknown, or important words, and to make notes along the margins to help them remember their thinking as they read. 

I have students read and annotate to begin. They then use the back of the article to write a few sentences explaining their learning. I then read the article to them for fluency purposes and I then ask them to add to their writing on the back of the article a second time. I then read and model the annotation process. At this time, I make sure to circle important words that could become our vocabulary words, We discuss them and figure out synonyms for these words or we come up with our own brief definition for them based on the context of the article. 

The article I had my students read was on earthquakes. We experienced a 4.7 earthquake the night before the lesson. Earthquakes release energy and I knew that my class would be fascinated in learning more about them since they all felt one. I used the teacher pages 9-12 as their article. 

Noteworthy Words

10 minutes

With the reading complete, I ask my class to now take out a lined piece of paper. I have them fold it into fourths for note taking purposes. I then put students into groups of two. Once they are together, I ask them to read and go over their notes with their partner. As they do so they will create a bulleted list of notes together of the facts they feel are most relevant to learning about earthquakes and energy. I ask that they try to get 6 - 9 facts.

Once this is complete, I have each group share a couple of their notes with the class. We play a game called "me too." If another group writes a similar note they simply say "me too." After this quick sharing they are ready for step two. 

The groups will now determine 3-6 words that they think are good vocabulary words to help them with their understanding. They need to go back through the article and their notes to decide on their list of words.

Word Wall

10 minutes

With each group having their list of words we now need to display them so that we can determine which might be the best ones to focus on as vocabulary words. I ask that groups take turns adding words to the white board. To do this I hand three groups a marker and ask them to add one word and pass the marker on. We keep passing the marker so that all the words possible can get to the white board. I do ask that words not get repeated. This way groups have to watch the words go up, and decide if they have any to add. 

Our Vocabulary List

15 minutes

To figure out the best vocabulary words we have a class discussion. Students need to give evidence from the text or other readings to convince which words might be the most important in the future. I try to key them into words and prompt them if needed to make connection to what we have learned with energy. It is surprising how they can determine which words are important. I make sure that students see me write down all their words. I explain that I will keep their list in case we need to add words or remove words as we learn. To complete the activity I ask students to write the words we decide on into their science journals.