Vocabulary Acquisition

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A Multifaceted Approach to Vocabulary Acquisition
Because most classrooms contain a variety of types of students—high-risk, gifted or talented, and everything in between—teachers are wise to adopt a multifaceted approach to vocabulary acquisition. This approach provides direct instruction as well as opportunities for incidental learning. Here are some strategies for implementing the approach: Require independent reading: If your school does not already have a recommended reading list, help create one. Include high-interest, low-level books suitable for high-risk students as well as books that will challenge the gifted or talented. Then require students to read a certain number of books of their choice from the list. Students might provide feedback on their reading in a variety of ways: oral or written book reports, posters with plot summaries, performances of key scenes, or the creation of "book boxes"—cardboard boxes that contain objects key to the plot or characters in a book. Encourage the use of semantic maps: Semantic maps are graphic organizers that help students associate an unfamiliar word with familiar related words. To map the word noun, for example, draw a circle and write noun in the center of it. Then draw smaller circles around the central circle and fill each with a key related word, such as person, place, and thing. To complete the map, surround each outer circle with a series of subcircles, each containing an example of the related word, such as the name of a specific person, place, or thing. Then show the relationships by connecting all the circles with lines. Have students keep vocabulary logs: Require students to reserve a section of their journals or notebooks for listing, defining, and using new words that they learn during independent reading or in their classes. Have students copy the context in which they first encounter each word. Periodically collect students' logs and create opportunities for students to hear, see, and use the words...
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