Enhancing Explicit Teaching of Vocab with iPads

Over the term we have been part of a vocab study designed to improve students’ use of vocabulary both verbally and in their writing. The project has involved the explicit teaching of a large bank of words from texts and sources encountered over the term in various subject areas.

The project was originally introduced to the students after we had read a number of “Fancy Nancy” books together, and discussed the use of fancy words in Nancy’s stories. We created a wall of “Fancy Words” in our classroom and we add words to the wall as we encounter them in the context of our studies. Students are provided with example uses of the word and collaborate to devise an action to associate with the word. They then provide their own example sentences.

We have been consolidating learning through creating and continuously adding to a “Book of Fancy Words” on our iPads in Explain Everything. Students have a page for each fancy word which contains the word meaning, their own sentence with a matching image and a photo or video of the action associated with the word.

Along the way we have done several vocab warm-ups and played various games to further improve our understanding of the target words.

By the end of 5 weeks of explicit vocab teaching, most students were able to correctly and meaningfully incorporate fancy words into their writing, which was just astounding considering they are only six years old. I also found that as students were considering how they could incorporate our fancy words, they were adding adjectives of their own to further improve the sound of their writing, without any encouragement from me.

This week for fast finisher work I set a challenge to my students to improve a list of sentences I created using our fancy words. We discussed that even though my sentences involved one of our fancy words, they were still boring sentences. We talked about where we could possibly add adjectives and adverbs and from there I left the students to their own devices to create a book of fancy sentences on their iPads. The results just amazed me! I am so proud of what we have achieved in such a short time and I have to say, using iPads throughout the project has thoroughly engaged students and helped to enhance their understanding of this complex vocabulary.

Our "Fancy Words"

Our “Fancy Words”

The Fast Finisher Task

The Fast Finisher Task

Student Sample

Student Sample

Student Sample

Student Sample

Student Sample

Student Sample


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