“After Chris won the lottery friends, relatives, acquaintances, and people she didn’t know turned up to congratulate her,” the clerk at the counter said grudgingly.
If readers are aware of these four alternatives they make better decisions of what to do when they encounter unknown words: Look to another source for a definition: another person, glossary, dictionary... or use the context if there is a hint, description, or definition.
Two more examples to illustrate and practice these differences. What are the possibilities to derive meaning from the context?
Example 1 - A conversation between Templeton and Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. Wilbur asks Templeton if he will play with him. Templeton responds that he doesn’t know what play means. Wilbur explains with examples and Templeton answers with. “I never do those things if I can avoid them.”
Example 2 - A narrative about Templeton in Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. "Templeton was a crafty rat and he had things pretty much his own way. The tunnel was an example of his skill and cunning. … it enabled him to get from the barn to the … trough without coming out into the open.” “...eating, gnawing, spying, and hiding. I am a glutton but not a merry-maker. … I am on my way to eat your breakfast, since you haven’t got sense enough to eat it yourself.”
When beginning readers learn vocabulary they usually decode a printed word that is part of their known vocabulary. Enabling them to quickly add the word to their reading list of known vocabulary words. However, it doesn’t take long for readers to reach the level where their known vocabulary isn’t sufficient to know the meaning of all the words they read. When this point is reached additional skills are necessary to allow them to increase their vocabulary. This is misleading to teachers and the public as too often people mistakenly think the rate of vocabulary development will be sustained without any skill development and encouragement.
A word can be known in different ways.
Simple matching, true - false, or multiple choice exercises won’t help students achieve the higher levels.
To help students learn vocabulary: It is important to help them develop a desire to be a word-smith. To be on the prowl for new words; to seek new words to better describe different situations powerfully and to make words their own.
One way to move toward higher levels of understanding of words is to use the following chart and have students rate their level of understanding for some selected words.
|Word is:||Never saw it before||Heard it, but don’t know what it means||Recognize it in context and have a general idea of what it means||Know what it means and can provide a synonym||Know what it means and can use it||Know its multiple meanings, its registers, grammatical forms, connotations, etymology, or other attributes.|
Not all words have equal value for readers to know. Therefore, it is important to be able to identify words of optimal value. It is helpful to think of words within these categories:
Use the five criteria to select and classify some words, from the following passage, that might be important to introduce to readers.
It was at a concert in New York where a celebrated teacher of the violin was exhibiting his pupils. A boy of twelve stepped on the stage and began to play. A hush fell over the room. His face, his fingers, every move and look proclaimed an embryo artist.
With easy assurance, in which was no trace of effort, he played one number after another, the audience urging him on with enthusiastic applause. Each of us felt that thrill of personally discovering this new star in the musical heavens. The concert over, a gentleman rushed forward to congratulate the teacher.
"You must be wonderfully proud of that brilliant boy!" he exclaimed.
The teacher was unresponsive. "Not very proud," he said.
"But surely he will be a master."
"No. He will probably be a fiddler in a restaurant."
The man was a bit indignant. Was this coolness born of professional jealousy... the envy of an older man for the brilliant youth? The teacher did not leave him long in doubt.
"The boy could be a master," he explained, "but he never will. Some of the others who performed less well today you will hear from later. But he... no. He will be a fiddler. It comes too easy; he will not work."
Use your list or the following words and categorize them 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.
exhibiting, celebrated, pupils, hush, proclaimed, hush, assurance, unresponsive, fiddler, master
My Father, the Entomologist. by Andreanna Edwards published in Cricket Magazine June 2001 Vol. 28 Issue 10 page 5-6.
"Oh, Bea, you look as lovely as a longhorn beetle lifting off for flight.
And I must admit your antennae are adorable. Yes, you've metamorphosed into a splendid young lady."
Bea rolled her eyes and muttered "My father, the entomologist."
"I heard that, Bea. It's not nice to mumble. Unless you want to be called a ... Mumble Bea!" Bea's father slapped his knee and hooted.
Bea rolled her eyes a second time. The first day of fifth grade, and my father tells me I look like a longhorn beetle. Bea shuddered at the thought. She absolutely detested bugs.
Why does Dad have to be obsessed with insects? She wondered. Why not football or golf like most fathers? The answer was simple. Bea's dad was weird. His weirdness made the whole family weird. And he had made Bea the weirdest of all when he named her Bea Ursula Gentry ... B.U.G.
Suddenly, Bea felt angry. She flew into the kitchen where her father sat reading Insectology. She hurled her backpack onto the table.
"You know what. Dad?" she asked, tugging on one of her pigtails. "These are not antennae! Your bumper sticker, 'Have you hugged a bug today?' is not cool! And I despise eating in the dining room with all those dead bugs pinned to the walls!"
Use your list and categorize them 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.
Having students look up definitions or use definitions given to them is not usually an effective strategy, if used alone. Students often misinterpret the definitions by selecting a wrong definition, wrongly understanding definitions, misunderstanding the degree of the definition, and using a partial definition as a complete definition. Dictionaries are meant to be concise and this creates several problems:
Electronic dictionaries can provide virtually unlimited space which might reduce some of these problems with their use.
List examples of word entries that might be misinterpreted in the above ways.
Ask students what things help them understand and remember words. Ideas like: know what it is, know what it looks like, see a picture, draw a picture, know what it isn't, identify examples, identify nonexamples, and other ideas. Using these ideas to make a map or Frayer Model with the categories identified. More information and samples below.
Explicite instructional procedure for introducing a Frayer Model
Select the categories you believe most appropriate, prepare blank models for each student, and a completed model to use as background information for teaching. Frayer Model sample 1 or Frayer Model sample 2 or adapted model for mathematics and logic.
Putting it to work in a reading contect:
Select a chapter or article for students to read, make a list of the vocabulary to study, create an appropriate model, decide how students will work socially (alone, pairs, groups), and prepare models on paper or electronically.
Introduce words by having students say the word, provide a meaning, and identifying friendly everyday explanations. Examples include - when, how, and why the word might be used? The idea is to have students consider in what ways the word can be used appropriately. Hopefully, to provide enough information so students will use the word in their speaking and writing.
Common sense seems to suggest the best time to introduce words is before students read. However, as commonsensical as this seems it is not without cost to students’ self-esteem and self-efficacy about reading.
A better time might be teachable moments during read-alouds and other opportune times. Use the moment to demonstrate how to determine a word's meaning. Use self talk to negotiate different possibilities from context that make sense and if none can be reasoned, model how to seek expert advice.
Create some possible monologues...
Try some …
Read the word in the story or from a list. Ask students to repeat the word. Define and describe it. See ways to introduce words, for example use a Frayer Model sample 1 or Frayer Model sample 2 or Frayer Model Math sample.
Day 2- 4
Do any of the following: one each day.
After a couple of words have been introduced, challenge students to see if they can combine two or three into a sentence related to the topic or book. Or use all or many of the words into a paragraph.