Thursday, March 16, 2017

An effective vocab teaching strategy for any grade level

I’m on a mission to get rid of assignments that consist of writing down vocabulary words and copying definitions from the text. In a digitized world, the equivalent of this is creating digital flashcards to “learn vocabulary.” 

Today’s post is about a strategy that can be used to help students learn vocabulary. 

Synectics is a problem-solving technique that promotes creative thinking by making a comparison between two seemingly unrelated terms/objects. The strategy of synectics forces students to make connections about vocabulary words in creative and uncommon ways. Because of this, students are more likely to remember vocabulary definitions. 

How to use this technique with students

1.Provide vocabulary words along with words that are not related to the content. 

For example, if the word is meiosis, you may provide the words:
clover             bracelet                  octopus               pinata

2. Demonstrate to students how to use the synectic:

Meiosis is like a _____________ because __________________.

Meiosis is like clover because meiosis is the division of a cell into four daughter cells, and clover has 4 leaves. 

3. Allow students to create their own comparisons, either individually or in pairs. Students can use the comparison words you’ve provided or create their own. 

4. Have students to create an image to represent their synectics.

5. Ask students to share their synectics with the class. 

What we need to spend less time doing:

Asking kids to list vocabulary words and copy definitions.

Asking, "Who knows what _________ means?"

Giving students complex definitions to words.

Having kids look up definitions in the dictionary. (The teacher can use the dictionary to create student-friendly definitions that can be explicitly taught.)

What do you think we need to spend less time doing? 

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