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Vocabulary Matters!

Choosing just one book that has transformed my teaching feels a little like choosing a favorite child.  I just can't do it.  But the longer I work in Special Education, the more I realize that vocabulary is often a barrier to comprehension.  I see it every day.  Students struggle with concepts because they lack the vocabulary to discuss and understand them.  As teachers, we need to give them more than simple exposure to words.  Students need deep understanding of words, shades of words, word origins, similar words, examples and non-examples in order to truly own a word.

One of the books on my shelf that gets frequent use is Vocabulary Games for the Classroom by Lindsay Carleton and Robert Marzano.  The book provides comprehensive lists of words and concepts that should be understood at the various levels of learning.  Also, there are a myriad of games which are fun and provide a deep understanding of the terms.

A favorite in my class is Which One Doesn't Belong?  Modeled after the song "one of these things is not like the others, three of these things are kind of the same," students must make a category for three of the four terms presented and explain why they belong.  The game can fit in any class or discipline and is fairly easy to prepare on the fly.  It provides multiple exposures to words, but also helps students sort them for meaning.

Try it out!  And Happy Friday!