Vocabulary Comes Alive With “The Word Lady!”

*This post is the second installment in a series of posts dedicated to helping young learners grow and develop their vocabularies. Jill Negrete, a Speech and Language Therapist from the Grantsburg School District has offered to partner with me and show how to help my students understand language better. In return for her guidance and teaching, I am sharing information with teachers.

Our new reading program has a great vocabulary component. A few weeks ago, our first graders learned about the parts of a house while reading “Dee and Me” by Lois Bick. Students looked at the illustrations and identified the living room, the bathroom, etc. The Word Lady took the concept to a new level and made it come alive. She brought in a doll house and gave students pictures of objects found in a house. Together, the class discussed where each item would go. One student’s card was a fireplace. Miss Jill planted the vocabulary word “chimney” first and then the class discussed which room a fireplace would be found in.

That was fun and meaningful, but then Miss Jill took out a large canner. When she removed the lid, each child sat with excitement as they waited for her to unveil the mysteries inside. Some of the items included a turkey baster, a frying pan, a sauce pan, a rolling pin, and even a tea kettle. She taught kids to connect the new objects to things they already knew and when possible she used actions to cement a concept. (Ex. Sinks and tea kettles have spouts and each time Jill said “spout” to the class, she made a motion with her hand a formed a spout.)

Debbie Miller, the author of “Reading with Meaning”, talks about how our schemas grow and change. As teachers, we instruct our students to activate their schemas and think about how what they are learning reminds them of something they already know. These connections come in various forms (text-to-self, text-to-text, and even text-to-world connections.) Making helpful connections facilitates comprehension. Real reading happens when students read the words and understand their reading.

How do you help students generalize their learning to real world contexts? Have you ever thought of taking your iPad to a store and creating your own video to bring back to your students? Miss Jill did to help students add the term “appliance” to their schemas. She explained that appliances are found all around us wherever we go. She helped students understand that an appliance is a machine that you plug in and it does work for us. AS Miss Jill created her video of vacuum cleaners, she described their parts and what type of work the appliance does. She illustrated the vast number of different types of appliances through the use of video. It was amazing!

I have a better understanding now of how I can help students add new information to their schemas and how I can bring the world right inside our classroom! As a token to remember this dynamic vocabulary lesson, students created “Parts of Houses” e-books using “Book Creator” on the iPad. It is something they are sure to never forget.

Students create e-books about the different "gadgets" found inside a house.
Students create e-books about the different “gadgets” found inside a house.


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