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Jan 31

Teaching Tip: Importance of Building Vocabulary

I have noticed in my teaching that it seems we keep going around an issue and never solving it.  I know the students who do well in my class have a better working vocabulary than those who do poorly.  I cognitively try to use as much testing language as I can throughout the day to help my students, but in order to really build up their vocabulary they need to read on their own.  Therein lies the problem, many students do not like to read and there is not enough time for them to quietly read on their own in class plus that can be a little bit boring for the students as well as me.

So how do I get across the importance of building vocabulary?  Well, I try to point out how much easier their tests would be if their personal vocabulary was stronger.  I think I finally had a breakthrough today during our weekly quiz reviews.

There were two particular questions from this week’s quiz that helped me get my point across (Questions were from released items on the California achievement test)

Early in the Depression, the Hoover Administration established the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to

  • A. make direct grants to unemployed workers
  • B. loan money to banks, insurance companies, and other depressed businesses
  • C. purchase American manufactured goods for export to foreign markets
  • D. guarantee a minimum income to all the nation’s famers

I asked them what the question is asking about.  They answered “Hoover Administration” and “Reconstruction Finance Corporation.”  I then asked them what the word finance means they answered “money” then a few groans were heard in the classroom because they realized they knew the answer but got it wrong.  (You can see that the FINANCE corporation probably LOANS MONEY).

The second question was

The U.S. Congress passed a series of neutrality acts beginning in August 1935 in response to

  • A. British requests to blockade German ports.
  • B. American antiwar sentiment.
  • C. the German invasion of Poland.
  • D. the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor

Basically the same scenario as above but using the world neutrality which they broke down to mean neutra,l which they told me means you are not picking a side or fighting, which matches up to letter B.

I keep telling them to build a strong vocabulary and now that I finally showed them how important it is maybe they will be more willing to put the time and effort in to build it.

image via http://upwordlymobile.com/web/media/page_art/vocabulary.jpg

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