Developing vocabulary strategies helps our students tackle unfamiliar words in the classroom. I wanted to share this simple vocabulary strategy that helps students think more deeply about what they know when they encounter a concept or word.
I keep this visual posted where it can be easily read. No matter what the activity, there is always an opportunity to discuss words or ideas. I often pause during an activity and ask my students to rate their knowledge on a scale of 1-4. Based on the methods of Beck & McKeown (you can read more about their methods in my post here). This vocabulary strategy really gets them to “think about their thinking”.
By rating their understanding of a word or concept, my students have become more engaged in the learning process. At each level I pose questions such as the following:
Is there a part of the word that seems familiar?
Where do you think you might have heard this word?
Can you tell me what goes with this word?
Can you try explaining the word?
This vocabulary strategy is a great way to target mixed groups. I will often have a student who rates their knowledge higher give a peer clues to aid comprehension. This provides a fun way to target syntax, context clues, and expressive language.
The “What Number Word Is It?” vocabulary strategy has become so automatic that many of my students are now telling me the number that corresponds to their knowledge without prompts. My students are also becoming more adventurous in their explanations and offering a lot less #1 responses! Best of all, several classroom teachers have adopted this method by posting the visual in their rooms!
You can download a copy of the visual here. I’ve also included a copy of a 3-point scale that you might find more appropriate for younger students.