IMG_8551When I was at the UNI Jacobsen Center for Comprehensive Literacy Reading Conference, Linda Dorn and Carla Soffos stressed the importance of building vocabulary with our students instead of making comments about how difficult books can be for our students who have no background knowledge on a topic.  She make it clear that it is our job to build the bridge to these new vocabulary words and be the scaffold for our students.

And while using vocabulary words wasn’t new to me, the thought of being more explicit was somewhat new to me.  I have been picking relevant vocabulary words from 2nd and 3rd grade’s non-fiction books and printing off pictures to go with them.  (There is a post below where you can see 2nd grade and the process they went through to label their pictures)

This has been a VERY good thing in my classroom.  Students are much more successful when it comes to the 1st read and then when I listen to them again the 2nd time for a running record.  Students are also more successful when it comes to writing as they have important words already hanging up that they can reference.  It’s a nice reminder of important parts of the book and it also gives them the word to aid in spelling.  Students are more eager and willing to write when they’ve been set up for success.

After we are finished with the book, the vocabulary words go under the white board where they remain as our word wall words.  Students can reference these at any time during the writing process while making connections, having an unstructured writing session while I conference with other students, or if they come across the same or similar word in a new book.  I’ve been so happy with how many times students have reference the words since we’ve been using them.

Once we have finished then students are able to take home the extra pictures.  It was fun hearing at conferences how students were talking about the pictures and vocabulary words with their parents.  What a great way to make a connection from my classroom to their homeroom classrooms to their home.  I even had one student who had taped his picture to his desk.  His classroom teacher said it wasn’t a distraction, but he was very proud of the work he’s been doing so wanted it displayed.  Yay!