"Talk this way."
We have all had the opportunity to try on a new pair of shoes to see if it fits. Once you experiment walking with the new shoes, you begin to make mental notes about how to walk with them comfortably. After purchasing the shoes and wearing them for a while, it becomes second nature for you to walk with them, and then becomes part of you.
Words are much like the new shoes. Once you have tried the word on your lips and in your mouth and given multiple opportunities in different venues to use the words, they become part of you.
Without a variety of words and a word bank, students’ speech and writing is very dull and simplistic. It is important for teachers to provide students with concise words so that students can speak intelligibly and communicate cogently.
When students learn to integrate the words in their speech, they might feel awkward and may use the words incorrectly. That’s where you come in. Provide corrective feedback but do it diplomatically and gently.
There are many ways to give students opportunities to use their newly learned words. One of my favorite ways is described below.
This is how it works:
- Collect two small empty jars. Label one jar “popcorn” and the other jar “popcorn party.”
- Fill the empty jar, the jar labeled “popcorn,” with popcorn kernels.
- As the class is reading, or discussing, or doing anything that yields a new word, stop and write the word on a strip of paper. Draw a popcorn kernel on it. Place it in the appropriate category on the word wall.
- The popcorn kernel indicates that it is not part of the list of words from the explicit instruction, but that it must be included as a word that they must learn and use. Once the students have signaled that it is an unknown word, stop, explain it, and demonstrate it with a physical representation. Direct students to say it several times, practice the physical representation, and air write the word.