Best Practices for Teaching Vocabulary STUDENT FRIENDLY DEFINITIONS: To explain words to children, simple words that children

already know should be used. Children should be able to easily understand the explanation so they can quickly understand what a word means and connect new words to words they already know. • To teach the word unload, you could say… "If you load something onto a train that means you put it onto the train. If you UN-load something from a train that means you take it off of the train." MULTIPLE TAKES: To enter a word into their functioning memory, students need to hear a word (and ideally its pronunciation) multiple times. Try to get them myriad quick exposures after introducing a word • Have students practice using a word in different settings and situations and give an example of a time when they might use it. o “What animal would you most want for a friend?” o “What’s the healthiest thing you’ve eaten today?” o “When would it be especially important to be careful?” • Circle back to words you previously taught—yesterday, last week, or last month o “Who can tell me a word that we’ve studied this month that means not having enough of something? • Give students a sentence stem with a vocabulary with a vocabulary word, and ask them to finish it o “My mother stared at me with surprise because she never imagined that…” • Have students practice saying the words correctly o “That word is pronounced ‘FLOO-Id.’ Everybody say that.” COMPARE AND CONTRAST: Beware the “synonym model.” It’s the difference between similar words that creates meaning in a sentence or passage. • Ask students distinguish between or compare two different words; focus on the nuances of meaning o Can anyone explain how tiny is different than small? o "What is the opposite of empty? Is full the opposite of empty?" UPGRADE: Find opportunities to use richer and more specific words whenever possible. • Ask students to use recently introduced words in class discussions o We have a word for weather that’s really warm. Can you remember what it is? Now can you use it in a sentence? o Can you use a better word than big? PICTURE THIS: Create a multidimensional image of each new word by using pictures and actions.

• Use Pictures: Help students visualize words by giving them a picture that exemplifies a word they’ve learned. Or have students draw their own picture of a word • Act it Out: Ask students to act out or personify a word (e.g., Emily’s “word of the day plays”) o “Show me what you would look like if you were furious.” o “Who can pretend to fly across the room in a plane?” • Using Gestures: Have students develop gestures to help them remember words. Give them the word, and ask for the gesture. Give them the gesture, and have them provide the word o To teach the word steep, teachers can have children show what a steep mountain would look like with their hands.

Research-Based Sequence of Strategies for Introducing Vocabulary  Step 1—Define it: Provide a student-friendly definition of the vocabulary word  Step 2—Compare and Contrast: Provide a similar word, ideally one with which students are familiar, and explain how the words are similar and different from one another  Step 3—Use Pictures: Show students a picture that portrays the vocabulary word. Explain why the picture is a representation of the word.  Step 4—Create a sentence, written by the class with your guidance, that reflects the word’s meaning in a complete thought  Step 5—Vocabulary Games: Have students play vocabulary-reinforcing activities and games using multiple takes  Step 6—Write a sentence: Ask students to write a sentence independently (usually as homework) using the word correctly.