Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Introducing new vocabulary, concepts

by Kirsten Fletcher

Where would we be in this profession if we didn't have colleagues who shared great ideas? I saw this on Twitter the other day, and it made me feel a little more justified in sharing ideas that weren't mine.


So in the spirit of collaboration, here are two fun ideas that I implemented recently to "hook" students into new material.



I started with a word wall. I saw a word wall hanging in Anna Izzo's classroom a few weeks ago and really liked the visual reminder of advanced vocabulary that her Italian students could use as a reference. When I asked her about it, she said the idea actually came from Mark Heintz. Who knows where he got it? Collaboration!

At any rate, Anna had students brainstorm vocabulary on a topic, look up words they thought would be useful for discussing the topic in Italian, then write them on butcher paper that she posted in the classroom. Sounds simple, right? So last week when I started my new AP theme on science and technology, we began by brainstorming, looking up words that students found useful, and making our class list. The process of writing the list generated some good discussion (and spelling practice for our class secretary).


From here we moved on to the quote activity. I learned this from Dawn Samples, an amazing world language educator and administrator who recently led a workshop at the Fall ICTFL (Illinois Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Conference. Basically, the quote activity works like this.
  • I searched for quotes in French pertaining to science and technology. 
  • I printed out enough that I had at least two quotes per student. 
  • I seated students in a circle, and each student started with two quotes. 
  • They read both, then kept the one they liked best / agreed with and passed the other. They continued reading and passing for several minutes. 
  • Next, students paired up and read their quote to their partner. They had to justify why they chose it and make a connection. 
  • They did this with several partners before reporting out to the class. 



I feel like the quote activity allows students to interact with material in so many ways. The reading step not only exposes them to new vocabulary in context, but also encourages them to think critically. You could even use pictures, infographics, cartoons, etc. instead of quotes. The partner sharing gives them the opportunity to articulate their ideas and demonstrate comprehension. It enhances both listening and speaking skills.

On this day, we ended the activity by adding any new words we learned from the quotes to our word wall. Since then, we have continued to refer back to the word wall with any new reading or listening activity to keep the vocabulary relevant. We have added many useful words that I would never have thought to put on a vocab list. Since the word wall is hanging in the room, I have referred to it in lower levels as well. It's never too early to expand our vocabulary!


1 comment:

  1. I'm so excited to learn about how you used the quotes activity!!! I love your idea and how you incorporated it into your word wall!!! Thank you so much for sharing this!!!! :-)

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