Karen Roberts’s second graders were recently in small groups reading four different articles on caring for pets. When the students came upon vocabulary they didn’t know, they recorded the words on sticky notes and posted them on the easel. For example, one group read that the class gecko liked to bask on a rock. They added bask to the easel. After coming back together in their gathering spot, Karen explained the new words in kid-friendly terms and defined them in the context of the articles. It didn’t take very much time, and it was a simple and powerful strategy for expanding vocabulary.
This idea would work for independent reading time as well, especially if students recorded the word and the sentence in which it was found to provide context.
This simple technique keeps everyone in Karen’s room ready to tune in to interesting words and helps promote the idea that it really is fun to expand our vocabularies.