July 23, 2013

Teacher Tip Tuesday: Own-A-Word Vocabulary Instruction

This week's Teacher Tip is one I learned while I was student teaching. I was introduced to a great instructional technique for teaching vocabulary in the classroom: Own-A-Word.

The concept is simple. Instead of providing a list of vocabulary words for students to look up and break apart, each student in the room is assigned only one word per unit. Depending on the size of your class, you may want to this in partners, but my students were able to master 30 words during a 4-6 week unit.

Students can then choose from (or be assigned, if you prefer) a number of OAW activities through which they will demonstrate their mastery of the word and come up with a memorable way to teach it to the class.

Sample activities include:
Movie Posters
Candy Advertisements
Cartoons (free in TPT)
Campaign Flyers

No matter which activity is selected, students are required to identify definitions, parts of speech, synonyms, and antonyms, and contextual sentences for their words. The rest of the class takes notes as students present their words. When appropriate, I shrink visuals on the copier to make packets for studying.

One of the things I really like about doing OAW is that students really do show ownership of the vocabulary words. All year long, my students will point out the words in whatever we're reading. In fact, it became a game in my classroom to be the first to yell out "Word!" when we came across vocabulary in a different text, and I would award the class a point for their Class Point Competition (more on this to come). Not only could my students tell me the word and definition, but they also remembered who "owned" the word months later.

Another option is to award students with extra credit for bringing in evidence of the words being used outside of school. Students can bring music lyrics, send links to commercials on YouTube, and even have their parents sign off on sticky notes where they heard the word on TV or the radio.

In my opinion, this is much more effective than asking students to learn a preset list of vocabulary and testing them at the end of the week. The OAW activities make the words more memorable, and I truly think they retain more of the words through this method.

1 comment:

  1. I read about something similar somewhere on pinterest. The kids get to choose a word that is unpopular and try to bring it back! I love the idea! They try to bring it up in conversation with other kids and then, when asked, explain the meaning of the word to them. I think I'll talk to my kids about owning a vocabulary word for the year. :) And maybe include a few "bonus" questions on their tests/quizzes asking them for their word and the definition, etc. just to check-in with them and see if they are following through on their part of the deal.