Monday, December 31, 2012

Journeys Reading Vocabulary Homework



One of the best parts of the Journeys reading program in 4th grade (besides the stories/articles are all really engaging) is the vocabulary.  The words are mostly "Tier 2," they're repeated in multiple contexts in different texts students encounter as the week unfolds, they have great activity cards, and the questions in the teachers book are great.  The way I use their resources are:

1. Read aloud that short text in the TM before the selection in the student books.  I even let my students have their books open in their lap to the page with all the "answers" on it.  I pause when I finish a sentence with a vocabulary word in it, and say, "your vocabulary word is ______."  Then the kids show me one of 3 signs I taught them.  They shrug if they, "never heard the word."  They stroke their chin if they, "heard the word, but can't really explain what it means."  And they point to their temple as if to say, "I know this word, I can tell you about it!" 

I call on kids who think they can explain it, and if they are close but not quite I'll call on another child and ask, "Can you add to the definition?"  In the end if I need to clarify I will.

2.  The words appear in the anthology and leveled readers, so kids get lots of exposure to the words in multiple contexts, which helps so much.

3.  I use the cards that come with the series.  I have the children sit in a circle, and pair highly verbal students with lower ones.  I hand out a card to each pair, and they have 2-3 minutes to talk about the photo and contextual sentence, as well as ask each other the questions on the back.  I set a timer to go off when time is up, and then the children pass their card clockwise.  This continues until every pair has seen all 10 cards.  I stay in the center of the circle to man the timer and also to provide guidance (or a substitute partner if someone has to use the restroom!). 

4.  I administer the vocabulary portion of the weekly quizzes.

So really, the only missing piece in this puzzle was homework.  There just isn't much (or any?) in the students' workbook.  I don't understand why this piece is missing!  Sure, I could assign the old, "write a sentence for each vocabulary word" standby assignment.  And then I'll get such gems as:
1.      I know how to spell original.
2.      I know what original is.
3.      I don't know what original means.
4.      Do you know what original means?

I was a kid once.  I INVENTED those sentences.  I learned percents by figuring "if I have 20 words, I can get away with 4 crummy sentences.  Which 4 do I least want to come up with a good sentence for?"

So with these other great activities at their disposal, I decided that those questions that appear only in the TM don't need to be used as discussion points, they would work great for homework practice.  By creating a template worksheet that includes a big text box in the middle for photocopying those questions, I get WAY better sentences now than I did before.  I even get the added bonus of teaching and re-teaching the skill of rephrasing the question in the form of an statement.  I hope this template provides a nice addition to your vocabulary instruction if you are using Journeys.  This Journeys vocabulary template is available for free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. If you use Journeys, I hope you find it useful! 






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