Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Teaching Vocabulary/Root Words

by Katie Winstead (Owen)

In District 214, we teach students following the Word Within a Word curriculum. The lists we go through expose students to the various Greek and Latin root words they might come across in academic and nonacademic settings.

Vocabulary Research

To teach vocabulary (and our root words), I have been using the LINCS strategy from Kansas University. LINCS stands for:

L - List the parts (word and definition).
I - Identify a reminding word (or a word with the root word in it).
N - Note a LINCing Story (write a sentence with the reminding word and the definition).
C - Create a LINCing Picture (draw a picture to remind you of the definition and story).
S - Study and Self-Test.

This strategy works because it makes kids into active learners that have to think and word with words instead of drills in memorizing. By writing the definition, a sentence and a picture, students are creating multiple links in their memory to help them recall what the word means. For more on the LINCS Strategy and the research behind it visit: Sherrifinal.pdf

Katie's Resources:
LINCS Strategy Presentation
LINCS Strategy Cheat Sheet
LINCS Strategy Student Notes
LINCS Strategy Student Quiz 

Vocabulary Instructional Practices

When I first started teaching Word Within a Word, the students did this on physical notecards. Once some iPads started trickling in to my classroom, however, I decided that I needed to transform how we have traditionally taught vocabulary. I modified our sheets to include a sentence with a reminding word in it, multiple examples of reminding words, as well as pictures to help students make predictions about what the root word meant.

The instructional sequence goes as follows:

1.    Students would get a sentence like this:
When learning how to drive, the instructor told me to stay on the right side of the median.

2.    Students would then need to find and underline the root word within the sentence.

3.    I then showed them a couple examples of words with the root word in it (median, mediocre, mediate) and two pictures like these:
4.    The class would work together to predict what the root word meant, and then I would show them the definition.

5.    The students would write down a reminding word they liked and could use in a sentence (if they struggled, they had my sentence as an example) along with the definition of the root word. The sheet looked like this:

6.    We then made note cards following the LINCS Strategy.

Here is what the whole PowerPoint presentation would look like:

For awesome Google Slide templates, check out this website:

Modify and Redefine Vocabulary Acquisition

I taught this way and had students make note cards until one weekend when I decided to go through 20+ flashcard apps on my iPad. I tried Evernote Peek, Chegg Flaschards, StudyBlue (which I did use for a while), Flashcards Deluxe, Flashcards+, Flash-Cards, Cramberry, A+ Flashcards Pro, and eventually found the one I am in love with: Flashcards [] by NKO Ventures, LLC.

Flashcards [] allows you to create a class (in the free version you can have up to 30 students and 5 decks at a time). The students can join your class for free and copy the decks you have created. I start all of my decks with the root word on the front and the definition on the back. Students then add a reminding word on the right, and on the left they add a sentence. The app even allows students to either draw a picture or add one from their Camera Roll.

So what?

That is just where the vocabulary practice begins. Once students are done, there are many games the students can play. In the free version, that can be things like matching, true/false, and a crossword. In the paid Teacher Pro version ($49.99), you get 100 Students and 75mb of server space - along with games like Flappy Dog and Ninja! Students can also do Q-Battle and practice their vocabulary words in a competition.

When students practice on their own deck, they get to see the sentence and drawings they created. After they feel like they know the words, I have them practice on the class deck where they just see the root word and definition. This also allows them to compete and be on the top of the class leader board.

1 comment:

  1. Root words in English : Agglomeration of root words used in English language. Revamp your vocabulary by learning the root words of English. A wide collection of root words along with examples. @