Sunday, May 13, 2012

More Vocabulary Instruction

When I'm able to anticipate new/difficult vocabulary in a lesson, one thing I like to do is make a powerpoint slide to aid acquisition.  Here are a few from last week's classes:



These two slides were for my lowest-level second graders.  To be fair, my goal in this exercise was more about phonics than vocabulary, but I ended up exposing them to new vocabulary as well.  Their textbook had a chunked-pronunciation practice activity in which the kids had to listen to an audio clip and repeat the words.  The clip would pronounce the phonemes of a word in chunks before producing the word as a whole like this: B - all - Ball.  The TLC concerned the 'all' and 'aw' sounds in words like 'Ball' and 'Paw' and was accompanied with pictures.

This exercise was followed by another in which they were to look at simple sentences, like 'Jamie is playing with a soccer ball' and underline the 'all' and 'aw' bits.  This was all well and good, but it didn't require much negotiation of meaning or production or effort on their parts to complete.  So I supplemented the book's activities by presenting a slide portraying an 'all' or 'aw' word and produced the word for them a few times.  It was then their job to, with their groups, decide upon the spelling.

The first picture was of a tennis ball and required no explanation on my part; as soon as the picture went up the kids were yelling 'ball!' 'tennis ball!', so I just affirmed their utterances and proceeded.  However, the next two slides were the ones above.  When I showed the first slide, kids were yelling things like 'beach!' 'sunset!' 'sun!'.  So, to get them on the same page, I said, 'It's the early morning'.  In one of the classes, I said that in Korean since their level is quite low and I wanted to make sure we were all sharing the same meaning.  Then I said, 'Dawn' several times and asked them to work as teams to guess the spelling.  I went to each group and repeated the word to give them a little extra exposure.  

After maybe thirty seconds of team discussion, I drew a rectangle on the board and chose a student to write his/her team's answer in it.  If they were correct, I gave them a jewel and showed them the labeled slide, but I also gave them a jewel if they were incorrect and tried to praise them for the bits of the word they got right.  The words included 'ball'(recycled TLC) 'dawn' 'fawn' and 'mall'.  Most of the time, they were able to guess the spelling correctly and I think the way they engaged with the pictures and their teammates probably helped them acquire the words while they became more familiar with these phonemes.  Unfortunately, I won't see them again until the 25th, so they'll probably forget the vocabulary! :/ I think Bill would have liked this activity since the group work bumped their ZPDs up the interlanguage ladder a bit (hopefully :)

If I wanted to focus on vocabulary acquisition over phoneme recognition and production, I could have included a quick productive activity using these words.. but I thought words like 'dawn' and 'fawn' were too low-frequency to necessitate that kind of focus at their level and I think the activity targeted both considerations to some extent.




I used these slides for my sixth grade intermediate and advanced classes.  We came across these words while reading a passage about storm chasers, so I decided to have them infer the words' meanings while providing some additional contextual usage.  In picture 1, I ended up telling them that 'anxious' was a feeling to make the task a bit easier, so they focused on what the feeling might be. I also asked them to explain how they arrived at their answer so they could get jewels for explanations if their guesses were incorrect.  In general, a kid would give me half the feeling by saying it meant 'scared' or 'nervous', so I kept it going by asking things like 'Are they only scared?  How else do they feel?'  in order to elicit that anxiety can be a mix of both nervousness and excitement.  

Picture 2 was fairly straightforward and most of the kids were able to guess that it meant to 'get ready' as the passage in the book was something like, 'I have to brace myself for the wildly blowing wind'.  I made sure to ask 'why' in order to elicit that 'brace yourself' means preparing for something bad, like a wildly blowing wind or a ball to the face.  In a few classes I jokingly used 'brace yourself' in unacceptable ways to get them to laugh and understand the proper usage of brace yourself... I think I said, 'Brace yourself, here comes a puppy!' and acted like there was a dangerous animal in the room for one of the classes... so even though I demonstrated unacceptable usage, I think the correct usage was reinforced.

Picture 3 ended up being quite difficult for them to do on their own.  The book discussed a 'weather phenomenon' while my example was a different kind of phenomenon, so the kids had widely varying ideas about what 'phenomenon' might mean.  I rewarded them for incorrect answers if they explained why they came to their conclusion; a popular wrong answer was that 'phenomenon' means 'a lot of things move' because the book's weather phenomenon example was a moving tornado and they were able to identify that the butterflies were all moving together.  In general, their guesses were far more detailed than the meaning I wanted to convey and I was sure to tell them that 'phenomenon' was 'a big word for a simple idea'.  Eventually, someone in each class made use of the word 'special' or inferred that it wasn't normal and I had to just tell them that a phenomenon was simply something that's really special or unusual.  I gave them the further examples of a Korean person with blond hair and blue eyes, or a frog with five legs.  I then gave them a few seconds to think of phenomena in their groups and they demonstrated their understanding by coming up with some interesting and sometimes slightly deviant examples lol.  I think I could have made this task more achievable had I provided one or two more examples of phenomena.  However, I don't think that it was a problem that my example was a different kind of phenomena than the one presented in the book since the fact that there are many kinds of phenomena is pretty central to the word's usage.

1 comment:

  1. The detail here is extraordinary, Nate. Glad you're practicing your writing and analytical skills for your MA future...