Instructional Strategies

As teachers, one thing for us to remember is that it is not possible for us to teach our students all of the words they need to know. We do, however, need to teach them how to teach themselves these words as well as motivate them to want to teach themselves new words. We then need to have available for our students material that will provide them with new words that they want to look up and learn on their own. Also, our classrooms can be decorated with words! We can surround our students with vocabulary which will cause them to learn when they don’t even know they are learning!

Things we need to consider when selecting the words we will teach in the classroom are how often the students will see the words and in how many other contexts and subjects. Is the word related to any other words they may know already, either similar in meaning or morphemes? Some situations may lead to unknown words that we didn’t originally plan to teach. Before we teach these words to our students, we need to decide if it is necessary to know the definition of the word in order to understand the words around it or the meaning of the passage. And also, are the words realistic to teach at that level? We should not be adding low frequency, content specific words to early elementary grades.

One way to help students organize new information, in this case vocabulary, is to use a semantic map. This allows students to group the new words they are learning to words they already know. These maps are also useful when grouping similar concepts, not just words. When preparing to compose a piece of writing, these types of maps can aid in organizing similar ideas.

Example of semantic map taken from Google images: