5 ways to enhance your academic vocabulary instruction - #3 - KEEP the Words

I'm back (and so relieved to be here after a three week forced blogging vacation due to a broken charger port on my lap top) with installment three of my "5 Ways to Enhance your Academic Vocabulary Instruction" series.  If you're interested in Way #1 - SEE the Words - Click HERE, and Way #2 - WRITE the Words Click HERE.

Way #3 is KEEP the words.

As you know, from reading posts number one and two, it's critical for students to SEE several visual representations of a new vocabulary word (examples, models, drawings,word wall cards, representations, etc.) and it's imperitive that they have time to WRITE about the new vocabulary word (descriptions, definitions, examples/non-examples, synonyms/antonyms, meaningful sentences, graphic organizers, and so on).

The next strategy students need for vocabulary success is to KEEP the word in a location, along with all the other words they are learning, so they can reference the new vocabulary words throughout the year.

There are many creative ways your students can KEEP their new vocabulary words.

My way of choice is in a Vocabulary Envelope like these that you can purchase at any office store.

Quality Park Clasp Envelopes, 6 x 9 - Inches, Box of 100 (37855)

We simply use 6" by 9" manilla envelopes, and each time we learn a new word, students make a flash card with the word and a picture on the front and the description/definition on the back. They place the flashcard into their vocabulary envelope for safe KEEPing.  The envelope clasps shut and takes up little space inside the desk but is large enough to find quickly when needed (even in the messiest of desks).  We use the words we KEEP in our envelopes for so many games and other purposes throughout the year - I'll divulge more about our favorite games in future installments of this series.

Here's a picture of some flash cards we use for our favorite vocabulary game Headbandz.

A second way your students can KEEP their vocabulary words is on a book ring like the ones below.

  The Classics 1-Inch Diameter 50 Count Book Rings in Assorted Bright Colors (TPG-189)

You can find these at an office store near you.  They're cheaper in silver but I love the bright colored ones and also use them to hang labels on baskets in our classroom.

After students make their flashcards (on index cards for durability), just have them punch a hole in the card and add it to their book ring.   Students can store the book ring full of vocabulary cards inside their desk, inside a manilla envelope, or even on a bulletin board.  All you need is a few rows of numbered push pins so students can hang their book ring up and find it easily when needed - like this example of displayed brag tags.

(Photo from Cara at The First Grade Parade blog)

Or this example from Jamie at Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher.

Another way students can KEEP their vocabulary words safe is in a vocabulary folder.  All students need is a three prong folder like the ones below.

I have a parent helper copy the vocabulary graphic organizers that we use to WRITE about our words, three hole punch them, and place them into the folders before I distribute a folder to each student. Then, whenever we learn new words, students simply pull out their folders and add them to the ongoing set of graphic organizers.  The folders also serve as a great vocabulary reference throughout the year.

Here's an example of my teammate Stephanie's (from Forever in Fifth Grade) vocabulary folders.

You can find her social studies vocabulary word cards and graphic organizers HERE.  They are a MUST HAVE for any 5th grade social studies teacher.

Click HERE for post #4 all about how we PLAY with academic vocabulary words in our classroom - to keep those words fresh in our minds!!

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