Thursday, July 4, 2013

Squeezing Juicy Words {Word Nerds Book Study}

Chapter 4 of Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary hosted by Sabra at Teaching With a Touch of Twang
 See other posts here: Ch 1, Ch 2, Ch 3, Ch 4, Ch 5, Ch 6, Ch 7

This chapter explains how to expand and deepen students' understanding of words by adding synonyms and antonyms on Day 2 of the Vocabulary Cycle.

Next Steps in Vocabulary Study
1. Students Hunt for Synonyms & Antonyms
  • Have available various dictionaries, thesauri, and online reference sites such as or (which also has antonyms).
  • Students gather in pairs or groups to discuss and find synonyms (or examples) and antonyms (or non-examples) for each of the vocabulary words. (Some teacher direction may be required for trickier words.)
  • As they search, they'll be debating and discussing shades of meaning.
2. Share & Vote
  • Meet back as a whole group and have students share their synonyms and antonyms as you record them on the board.
  • Have students vote on the 2 synonyms and 2 antonyms that are really "juicy" - "velcro" words that stick to their brain.
  • Student complete their Vocabulary Journal entries for their words as you model on the board - adding the synonyms and antonyms the class voted were the best.
3. Class Anchor Chart
  • Create an anchor chart featuring each vocab word and their synonyms/antonyms to keep posted in the room.
4. Lanyard Practice  
Have each student wear a vocabulary word, synonym, or antonym on a lanyard. (Switch words once or twice a day.) The possibilities are endless! Here are some ideas suggested by the authors:
  • Call students to line up by saying a definition: "If you are wearing the word that means _____ please line up."
  • Ask students to use their word in a sentence before leaving the class.
  • Encourage other adults in the school to ask your students about their words.
  • Playing games like Scramble (more on that in the next Chapter so stay tuned!) 
What's the Big Deal About Synonyms & Antonyms?
Including synoynms and antonyms in rigorous vocabulary study is essential. First, it expands knowledge  - they are really learning FIVE words, not just one. Second, it deepens understanding - by learning what the word is NOT, they develop a clearer concept of what the word IS. And third, it builds nuance - by weighing the appropriateness of synonym and antonym choices, children learn about literal and interpretive meanings and when it's "correct" to use those words.
The lanyards were the most exciting part of this Chapter for me!  I'm so glad my budget wasn't finalized yet so I could add these to it.
I picked the "horizontal" type of ID Badge - I thought the words would fit better that way. And then added some basic black lanyards. 

How would you use those lanyards? And if you feel like your vocabulary instruction could use some tweaking, grab yourself a copy of the book (or just view the whole thing here for free) and click on the image below to join us!
Hope to see you there!


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