Restoring the Reputation of Vocabulary Instruction


-Karen Feils

The topic of vocabulary, particularly in the 7-12 grade levels, brings more groans than cheers every year.  Some students may tend to view it as a mundane task with minimal relevancy.  Some teachers may view it as a necessity, but some may not even be sure how to make it relevant for the student.  It’s the way they were taught, so they proceed with the practice to check it off the lengthy list of must-haves.

I am here to offer anecdotal solutions, which could boost the collective vocabulary reputation for all involved!
Random Reoccurrence
In my classroom experiences, I have had significant success when vocabulary isn’t relegated to the great trash can in their brains the minute the quiz is turned in.  After week 1 of any vocabulary program, I add a section on my quizzes, and a section in their practice for randomly reoccurring vocabulary words.  This way, the students know that the vocabulary words aren’t going to just “go away” and they are encouraged to retain them.  As the year progresses, the bank of possible vocabulary words up for random reoccurrence grows.
Discovery and Definition
Another classroom practice is the discovery and definition method!  In this method, students earn “points” when they discover and define past vocabulary words in current work.  They can redeem points in any way you see fit, but some common ways are to apply them to future quizzes, or to redeem them for privileges.
We would love to allow this to be a forum for your ideas too!  Share away and let’s build a community of educators who want to restore the reputation of vocabulary!!!
—-Karen Feils  http://effectivek12schools.com—-

The Importance of Being Physically Active

Think recess and P.E. class aren’t important?

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 10.28.19 PM Hispanic youths typically lack access to opportunities and resources for becoming more physically active and this lack of physical activity negatively impacts their academic achievement (Basch, 2011b). Typically, students with low grades are more likely to drop out (Bowers, 2010). In 2009, the dropout rate for Hispanic students was 14.7% which was more than double the rate for Caucasian students at 6.9%  (United States Census Bureau, 2010b). We must find creative ways to provide students with physical activities, such as:

  • walking clubs
  • donations of fitness equipment (treadmills, stationary bikes, etc.)
  • quarterly field days as incentives for positive behavior and attendance
  • Wii or Xbox fitness games during lunch
  • school-wide choreographed dances to well-known music such as “Thriller”
  • staff vs. students games
  •  yoga class (This is also great for teaching patience and focus.)

The ideas are endless, but we must serve as role models for students. If we get involved in the physical activities, we set a positive example and show students we care about their health too. What are some cheap, creative strategies you’ve initiated in your schools to get kids moving?

—-Stephanie Scott http://effectivek12schools.com—-


Basch, C. (2011b). Physical activity and the achievement gap among urban minority youth. The Journal of School Health, 81(10), 626-634. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2011.00637.x

U.S. Census Bureau. (2010b). High school dropouts by age, race, and Hispanic origin: 1980-2009. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0272.pdf