Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Growing vocabulary knowledge...

This term I have been exploring ways I can grow my learner's vocabulary knowledge and awareness. I say awareness as many of them had not made the connection between the norm of high frequency words and their more powerful synonyms. 

Today I used the poem 'Two Day Wonder' by David Hill to explore juxtaposition and vocabulary choice. This poem (shared by Kiri) looks at two days through the eyes of the same character. Verse one describes a dull and gloomy day which links directly to the character feeling unwell, whereas verse two sees the character recover from his illness ready to venture into the bright new day ahead. 

Once we had explored the language used in the text I used the idea pf juxtaposition to open the door wider to let the synonyms (and antonyms) in. This search provided us with a much broader word pool, and introduced the students to new vocabulary that did not require any dictionary meanings to be located as the connections between the words made sense.

To strengthen the connections to the new vocabulary I introduced the idea of creating word clines. This was a huge success and prompted some very rich discussions as thinking was justified as to why one word was more powerful than the other. To put the learning into context we then used our new word knowledge to write our own contrast poems that describe waking up in the morning and coming to school in summer versus the same journey in winter. As the teacher in this learning opportunity it was extremely rewarding to see learners who usually struggle move beyond the security of their 'go to' high frequency words create writing that was powerful and rich.

Example 1 written by two of my target students:

In summer I get dressed for school and make sure my arms see the sunlight.
The street awake and chattering.
Trees motionless and attractive.
Birds are flying and whistling.
Clouds high in the sky and far, far away from humanity.
Carefree people laugh and smile.
The bell goes but no one hurries to class.

In winter I get dressed for school and make sure my arms are hidden from the darkness.
The street asleep and silent.
Trees moving and unsightly.
Birds are hiding in their nests.
Heavy clouds are low in the sky, nearly touching the earth.
Downcast people moan and whine
The bell goes and everyone hurries to class.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Robyn.

    Interesting idea for expanding vocabulary. I am also trying to expand my learners' vocabularies but in a numeracy context. I will have to try using word clines to strengthen the vocabulary connections as it seems like a quick and easy way for learners to engage with the words.

    By not requiring dictionary meanings, do you mean the learners didn't need to find meanings because they already had a grasp of the high frequency synonym/antonym? Did you encounter anyone who had no understanding of the high frequency word? This is one of the challenges I have at the moment.