I have a list of 15 words that my students have to master by the end of the trimester. I am supposed to go over each word at least 40 times, so I need some creative ideas! They are mostly literary terms like "allegory" and literary periods like "Romanticism." It is an 11th grade English class. Thanks!
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I like active activities with vocabulary words to keep things from getting too boring. Here are a few examples of what I'm talking about:
A mill drill--put each word on a separate slip of paper and do the same with the definitions. Hand out one paper to a student and then have them mill around until the person with a word matches him or herself up with the person with the correct definition.
A race--Write an essay that uses all 15 words. Make sure that the essay is long enough that you don't have a word per sentence. Then put each word on a post-it note on the board. On a separate board, write out the definitiions.
Put the students in two lines facing the board with the post-it-noted vocabulary words and read the story/essay you've written that includes these words. As the students hear one of the vocabulary words read, the first person in each line can then run to the board and snatch off the post-it with the word written on it. Then, they have to match it up with the correct definition. If they don't match the word with the correct definition, then the other team gets the point.
Then there's the students' favorite bribery activity: Stand in front of the class with a bag of bite-size candy bars and say each word. The first student to stand up and give the correct definition gets one tossed to him or her
I play a game called Slap-it with my students for terms or vocabulary. I write the vocab. words on a board (any board will work--Smart Board, white board, etc.). I hand two students flyswatters, and they stand close to the board. I give a definition or a sentence with a blank in it, or a group of synonyms or antonyms, and the first student to slap the right word with his flyswatter (clean flyswatter!) wins points for his team. My 11th and 12th graders love this (especially the boys) because they get to get out of their seats and because they get to hit the board.
I also use "sentence wars" with my students where one side of the classroom divides the words among themselves as does the other side, and then I give them a certain amount of time for each student to come up with a creative sentence for his or her word. After the prep time is up, the two students with the same word read their sentences, and then I award points to the team with the best sentence. They love this, and it encourages them to use literary allusions or to change the part of the speech of the word to show that they really know how to use it.
Try Bingo, matching games, crosswords, a spelling bee type setting where they all stand and you give them a word (they spell it and then define it or give an example) or give them the definition and they give the word and spell it (if they miss any part, they sit down)--winner gets extra credit or a little something.
Wow--lots of great ideas already! I have noticed that the candy always works :) We did the flyswatter game last year and the students loved it. I am definitely going to try these ideas this year. I especially like the sentence wars. Thanks!
It's always fun and effective when the students become actively involved with the vocabulary. I like to make my students play pictionary with the vocab - either on the board as a whole class, or with smaller groups; this is a great way to mentally connect an image to the word. I also ask my students to "act out" the vocabulary - for example, I once had a male student "act out" the word "metamorphosis" by attempting to brush his hair, failing, hiding behind my desk for a quick moment, and popping up with a Marilyn Monroe wig. It's a lot of fun, and kids will remember and make these connections. And finally, we play the tips & tricks game, where we use parts of the word or it's sound to make connections to other things, for example - Umbrage - sound connected to "umbrella", but also add the factor of "age."
I sewed my own pocketed Jeopardy "board" from cloth and can use it for all kinds of things. (I called myself Alexis Trebek, of course!) Simply put whatever you want on 3X5 note cards (my pockets are designed for the cards to be placed vertically, rather than horizontally), group them by subjects, and tier them for difficulty. You can use simple definitions, of course, or you can give/ask for examples. Have fun!
The Jeopardy board idea does work well! It can be drawn on a board, too, by imitating the columns and points as they are on the TV show. Using a student as the scorekeeper, the teacher can read the questions from cards.
There is a website that for a low cost will construct word searches and crossword puzzles, etc. for you with the words you want to use. (See edhelper.com)
Another way to tackle the vocabulary game/study issue is to offer your students the opportunity to earn extra credit by creating games for their classmates (along with answer keys, of course). I have had students volunteer to create Jeopardy boards, crosswords, word searches, fill-in-the-blank exercises, etc.
Having students create the activities is a great way for the creators to access prior knowledge and reteach themselves. It saves you time, and it provides a wealth of new teaching materials for you.
I like the ideas of involving the students in creating games. We all know that we learn what we teach, I think anytime we can find a way to involve the students in teaching each other it is a bonus.
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