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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Learning Middle School Vocabulary In A Different Way

A few weeks ago I searched for some more vocabulary development ideas. I looked for an established program that best fit my therapy style and could be easily translated into the classroom. I found this program developed by Dr. Edwin S. Ellis called the Clarifying Routine. The program emphasizes elaboration of vocabulary while teaching it and promotes adding a "knowledge connection". The "knowledge connection" is to help the children keep the word in their memory bank.

Here is the link to Dr. Ellis's ideas
I have tried to contact Dr. Ellis and other agencys to get more information/instruction on his program but have not been successful.

Most middle school parents and teachers have seen children learn new vocabulary then immediately forget it once the test is over. They usually study for test vocabulary by creating vocabulary cards with a word on one side and a definition on the other. In his article Dr. Ellis shows a vocabulary template requiring a little more information, referred to as The Clarifying Table to replace the basic vocabulary card. This is the link to a sample Clarifying Table

You will immediately see how this table would be a better tool to use when learning/studying vocabulary. The student may not use this elaborate table for every vocabulary word, maybe just a couple. What the table is really suppose to do is to teach the child how to make a knowledge connection with words to aid retention and vocabulary development in general.

I presented the Clarifying Table to some of our 7th grade teachers and they loved the idea. A couple were using a template referred to as a "vocabulary map" which was very similar.

Teachers and therapists, I believe you will find The Clarifying Routine and template simple, fun and beneficial. Parents I think you will find the concept interesting and helpful, especially if you have a student who struggles with vocabulary. I believe that learning the concept of attaching knowledge rather than memorizing a definition would be extremely helpful for all children but especially those who may be struggling with reading or who have struggled with reading in the past. These are the kids who tend to demonstrate a decreased vocabulary.

Since I was not able to get in touch with Dr. Ellis or find a way to obtain his materials/training we put together a template that was similar to the clarifying table but fit our needs.

(Can't seem to transfer it from excel or word. Let me work on it. You will obviously get the idea from Dr. Ellis's example)

Take a peek it is worth it



Dale Brown said...

LD OnLine is glad to provide The Clarifying Routine, Elaborating Vocabulary Instruction to your users. Thank you for a great article on how to use it.

Anyway, I like your blog and appreciated what you wrote about bullying and summer reading.

Visit us again on LD Online and consider subscribing to one of our newsletters

Again, Thanks.

Dale Brown
Senior Manager

Anonymous said...

Hello, I just found your site, it is very nice. Have you found any info/program ideas on teaching Special Education students with E.L.L. and language delay? I would love some very basic vocabulary ideas to use with E.L.L. students who attend sheltered middle school classrooms taught by Special Ed teachers. I have been attempting to teach through age appropriate literature but most of them have 1st or 2nd grade comprehension. This deficit make it difficult to pair high interest reading with actual reading abilities. I'd love some help. :) The teachers are very open to working with me in their classrooms

Teresa S. said...

Hi Anonymous
Thanks for taking the time to look at and comment on my blog. Let me pull some simple ideas together and post them in a few days. You did not say wether you were a SLP or not. Can I assume? I was also wondering about your comprehension comment regarding your kids. Was that reading comprehension level or language/cog level? If you did not get a chance to look through my other posts-do so- I mention other vocab and higher level language development ideas. You might find something you can modify to fit your needs. In your case Modify is the key word. On page 2 of my blog you will find some games that you might be able to further modify but I have further ideas there too. I sent you a reply but I am not sure it will reach you.