In an effort to dig deeper in to vocabulary acquisition, I have been taking some time to change the way that I have always viewed providing students with the definition of a new word. In the past, I simply told the students the definition or told them to look it up. Now, in the beginning of the teaching career it sounded more like, "Grab a dictionary and see what you can find out" and since teaching in a digital environment it became, "Use a define: smart search." This is not to say that in the moment of working with a group of students (especially those reading at the lower levels of the colour wheel), I did not focus in on using context clues to determine the meaning from within the text. However, after meeting with Dr. Jannie van Hees at a recent Professional Development session with my team, I began to think of ways to provide more student voice as we dug into deeper understanding of vocabulary found within our texts.
After providing my students some time to independently read through the text, in our small group session, I led them to specific sections of the text that I had previously determined. While those shorter sections orally, I stopped and pulled out specific words and phrases that I felt we needed to dive deeper with. I simply began with a "Hmmmm, I wonder what that means...magnificent height and breadth?" I then, grabbed a sheet of paper and put that phrase into a bubble in the middle of the page, and asked the students what they thought. After adding all of our ideas to the word chart, we read the selection again and students were asked to formulate their own definition using our word chart.
Here is one student's response: