Sunday, April 19, 2015

How to be a Vocabulary Ninja!

I love using big words with my students. Research shows there is a 30 million word gap between the words heard by the wealthiest and the poorest kids by the age of three. You can learn more about it in this easily digestible article from National Association for the Education of Young Children

One of the strategies early childhood educators can use to address the gap is to use big words in natural ways throughout the day. In this post I'll share some big words I use and give examples of the ways I sneak them into the day. I know we all have our own tricks, so please share yours in the comments!

By Joey Gannon (The Last Thing You See) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


1. TRANSITION

Examples: 
"In a minute we'll transition back to our desks." 
"Before we transition to math, we'll take a little exercise break."

2.  OBSERVATION

Examples:
"What observations did you make?"
"That is an excellent observation."
"You're very observant."

3. DISTRIBUTE

Examples:
"When your desks are clear I'll distribute the papers."
"You can choose a friend to help distribute your birthday treats."
"Would you distribute these for me?"

4. RESPOND

Examples:
"If you want to respond to the question, please raise your hand."
"Listen carefully so you know how to respond."

5. PROCEDURE

Examples:
"What is the procedure we follow for getting drinks?"
"We need to review our procedure for getting the teacher's attention."

6. LOCATE

Examples:
"Put this paper in a place where you'll be able to locate it tomorrow."
"If you can't locate your pencil, you can borrow one."

7. DEMONSTRATE

Examples:
"I'm going to demonstrate exactly what you should do."
"If you don't demonstrate that you know how to walk in the hall, then we'll have to practice."
"This assignment is for you to demonstrate that you know how to ______."

8. UTENSIL

Examples:
"Get you writing utensils ready."
"You may use any writing utensil you'd like."
"The only writing utensil we're using right now are pencils."

9. DISCUSS

Examples:
"You and your partner can discuss your ideas."
"This is a good discussion."

10. CONVERSATION

Examples:
"I heard some good conversations during this lesson."
"I was having a conversation with another teacher."

11. PREPARE

Examples:
"I'll give you a minute to prepare."
"Let's prepare to go outside."
"How can you prepare for ______?"
"Are you prepared?"

12. ARRIVE

Examples:
"If we want to arrive on time, we need to leave now."
"When did you arrive?"
"Our guest plans to arrive at ___."

13. CORRECT

Examples:
"That's correct."
"What is the correct way to ____?"

14. ASSISTANCE

Examples:
"I can't give any assistance on this test."
"I can assist you when I'm finished.
"That task doesn't require any assistance."

15. FLEXIBLE

Examples:
"Our schedule is mixed up, so we'll need to be flexible today."
"Thank-you for being so flexible."

When I use these words, I often give the definition or use a familiar phrase immediately before or after: "Look carefully at this picture....Raise your hand if you'd like to share your observation."

Sometimes kids ask me what the word means. I usually give them a compliment for seeking new information. Sometimes I give a quick answer, but sometimes I challenge them to use the context clues and make an inference. Other times I ask the class if anyone can help. 

If you'd like a little reminder, Feel free to grab the picture below:

If you want to read more about teacher language, check out the post I wrote last summer as I reflected on my Responsive Classroom training.

You might also be interested in a post I wrote about the conversation I had with my 6 yr old son about sexism when his friends told him, "Girls always go first." 

Don't forget to share your tricks for sneaking big words into your teaching.


If you found this post to be interesting or fun, I'd love for you to connect with me! There will be more posts about this topic in the future!

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