Fortunately, my friend and mentor Maria Caplin (you can find her @WonderLeadMaria and/or over at Teaching in the 21st Century) is one of my district's word study gurus, so I've been able to
One new idea to which I've been most consistently committed is the Word Jar. Maria has had a lot of success with individual students collecting words in word jars; students find these words in their reading and all over the place. It gives them an awesome awareness that fun words really are everywhere!
I decided to try out the Word Jar idea on a class level. In September, each of my three blocks took a great deal of pride decorating its Word Jar during Study Center time.
|3/4 loves its mascot -- on top -- "The Fuzz" (new nickname courtesy of The Outsiders).|
5/7 is big on duct tape, and 8/9 could NOT get enough glitter on theirs.
|A peek into the 8/9 jar. I'm told that the jars still smell vaguely |
of frosted animal crackers.
This had made much more meaningful -- and lasting -- our vocabulary study for the book. There's a crazy amount of rich and tricky vocabulary in The Outsiders that I could drill (and, ahem, have in the past drilled) in to them 100+ words and drag the unit out for weeks on end ... but instead, we've been much more successful with a smaller word list and a heavier emphasis on how to use context clue strategies to figure out the other words.
|"The Fuzz" says, "We heart our Word Jar, Mrs. Caplin!"|
Next step: I'm now trying most Fridays to open up our Word Jars and revisit the fun new words we've been collecting over the last few months. My goal by the end of the year will be for all students to be able to use all words flexibly -- meaning they could change the part of speech of the word -- in new contexts.