Monday, March 14, 2011

Front loading vocabulary

Over five years ago, my high school brought in a reading specialist, Bill McBride, who talked to us about how to help students engage in reading across the content areas. While I teach communication arts/ language arts/ English, I am by no means a reading teacher, especially at the high school level, so this workshop was very helpful. Among the advice he gave us was to always “front load” the vocabulary we would be working with in a particular unit. He was kind enough to give us all a worksheet that we could take and implement in our classrooms for this purpose. I call this worksheet the “Predicting ABC’s” and have taken it and adapted it to use to introduce Holocaust vocabulary at the beginning of the Holocaust memoir unit I teach to freshmen.

I have the students think of as many terms as they can that they know about the Holocaust and write them on the chart alphabetically, and then we share out their responses. Then, I always have some that I tell them that I want them to know for the unit and test, and these are listed on the back of the worksheet. Some I already provide the definition for and others I make them take down as notes. This has been a great tool to help students know the terms that we will use during the unit, and the worksheet can be adapted for any unit in any content area.

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