Saturday, January 28, 2017

Character Trait Vocabulary Lesson

My students struggle with vocabulary!  Research has shown that my students are not alone. By the end of second grade, the average student has acquired approximately 6,000 root-word meanings, but the lowest 25% have acquired only 4,000! (Biemiller, 2006).

I noticed a big problem with my own students (4th graders) when they struggled to understand the word brave used as a character trait!   We ask them to be able to:

Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions.  CCSS.RL.4.3

How can they possibly do this if they don't have the basic vocabulary to define character traits?  Here is one of the lessons we used to help develop their vocabulary.

We chose some common character traits that were connected to characters we had been reading about in class.  We then searched for pictures that would match those words. You can just type the word in Google and then choose an image search.

We printed out the pictures we found, and wrote the words and definitions on index cards.  We passed the pictures and words out to the students and asked them to find their match.

Once the students found their match, we asked them to present the word, the definition, and the picture to the class to see if everyone agreed. 

 Most of the students made a successful match, and for the ones who didn't we were able to have a productive discussion about why their choice was not quite the best one.

We put the matching cards on an anchor chart for the students to refer to.  

We used this activity as a whole group, but you could easily modify it to use in a small group, or have students work in partners to match up all of the words and pictures.

If you use this activity, I would love to hear how it goes!

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