Do you watch your child struggle in school? Maybe he or she doesn't understand the deeper meaning of conversations? Is your child's overall comprehension of situations just not there?
I can relate. I have worked with many students who struggle with comprehension for several years now and it is hard to figure out what exactly the problem is. When comprehension is a problem, it is usually a vocabulary issue. But where do you start with vocabulary instruction especially when you don't know where the student has been in his or her instruction already?
Hi this is Stena Schmitt from Saints Training and Tutoring again.
There are many vocabulary instruction programs that teach a set of words in a variety of ways such as definitions, word games, sentences, etc. A student works on these words for a week and then takes a test over the words in order to spit out the definition. After the test the student no longer uses the words and doesn't gain a deeper meaning of the world around them. Nope, doesn't work.
While in school students are given vocabulary based on the subject matter at hand. The words are based on the chapter material, learned for the chapter test, and forgotten. Nope, doesn't work.
There has to be a better way for students who struggle with comprehension to learn vocabulary without having to take a test and forget the words they just learned. I think I have one.
Teaching foundational vocabulary
When teaching students vocabulary, one must teach foundational vocabulary words. That is, words that are crucial for learning which varies based on subject matter. For example vocabulary words that are crucial for math are add, subtract, sum, difference, multiply, product, etc. These words are important because it's used more than on just one test.
Have students pick out vocabulary
Instead of teaching students vocabulary they have to know for a test, have students come up with their own words they need to work on. Give each student a notebook to write in that has their vocabulary in it. Encourage students to pick out vocabulary words that they come to in the reading as they read. This will be challenging for all levels of learners because they will pick out words that fit them instead of what is given by their teachers.
For example, a science student is learning about astronomy and doesn't know the word astrological. As a parent or teacher, encourage your child to find definitions of the word but not to take that definition at face value. Instead come up with examples of what the word is and what it isn't. Based on that information, the student should come up with a definition for the word she or he is learning.
Using Note Cards
Put these words on note cards and attach it to a key chain or ring. Have students take these words with them and encourage them to use the words in their conversations with parents, family members and friends. The more a person uses new vocabulary, the better he or she understands and is able to take it to the next level.
Applying is mastery
How do you know when students have mastered the vocabulary and are not just spitting out the information? As students apply what they have learned and are able to take it to the next level, they have mastered the information.
For example, mastering math vocabulary happens when students are able to apply their knowledge to word problems and find the correct answer. Continued success is also needed to show mastery, so students can't start to apply the information and then stop.
We're not in subject matter, anymore Toto!
Vocabulary doesn't just have to happen in school but in life too. Sometimes parents forget that students could be learning this information for the first time. Instead parents assume students should already have learned the material and be able to understand it.
When parents are introducing a new skill to their children, they need to approach it just like a teacher or tutor would from the beginning. Parents need to figure out what their children already know and teach them everything else.
Parents teach everyday life skills and some of the vocabulary that comes with each life skill and children can come up with their own vocabulary based on where they are at ability-wise. Parents can help children pick out new words. As children start applying their knowledge of skills, they can build on it with more complicated skills.
How do you teach vocabulary?
After reading several books and articles about how to teach vocabulary, Comment on how you teach vocabulary to students in the comment section below. I would love to hear your thoughts.
My name is Stena Schmitt.
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