We all have the word lists that we want our students to learn. We write them out, have our students copy them and then we have them repeat this process. They are to continuously repeat this until Friday and then write the spelling test! Yes we have some activities, use the word in a sentence, write them out 5 times, but really what are the students learning?
I can’t help but feel for students when I see this process in the classroom. Spelling is vitally important but these types of activities put students to sleep and I do not blame them, these activities are boring. So how do we combat this, and yet expand our students’ vocabulary!
First thing is first! In order for students to be able to identify words, you must ensure that your words are up on the wall not just for the week but permanently. This ensures students will be able to refer to them continuously and utilize them within their work. In previous posts we have made creating word walls easier than ever! For your convenience, check out our Word Wall Fun Packs!
Once you have your lists, then what can we do differently?
Here are some ideas!
Make it a game! There are many games that can be done here is one example: Have students stand in a circle, starting with one student call out the word and each student takes turns stating the letter that comes next. The task is to quickly spell each word. One a mistake is made have student sit out! Use a stop-watch and time them, challenging students to get the best time possible and no one out!
Act it out! Have students dramatize letters. For example, when the letter “O” is to be said the student should sound like an owl. The letter “s” students can pretend to be snakes. This allows students to be creative and make their own connections to the new vocabulary.
Words of the Week: I have done this with numbers and I can see it working with words as well. In order for students to understand the words in context they need to recognize when they hear it. Whenever they hear the word, they can scream the word out loud. I know (just like PeeWee’s Playhouse) and it will get crazy. I have seen variations to this. You can easily purchase mini noisemakers where students can use whenever someone uses the word in class. This keeps them attentive to ensure they can use their noisemakers and eventually will strive to use the words in their discussions deepening their retention.
Texting: How about having students create fake text messages to one another using at least 5 vocabulary words? They could take different perspectives, such as a parent to a child or a doctor to a patient. Ensure that you have the criteria that words cannot be shortened or short coded as they are done through texting! Allow them to get creative and it will be a fun activity to practice using the words in context!
Let’s hear your ideas! Hopefully we can compile a list of useful and effective strategies!