Have you often felt you should do more to strengthen students’ vocabulary than present a list of words relevant to your current topic?
And have you ever found yourself telling students to sound out words they are trying to spell or read only to realise they can’t be sounded out?
International schools present unique challenges. Teachers and students speak with an almost impossibly broad variety of accents, with different word pronunciations. We need an approach to teaching foundational literacy skills that will build vocabulary and help students learn to spell regardless of how words are pronounced.
left: building a word web with words related in meaning and structure to <friend>
Befriend is when you are kind to someone new. Zachary 8 years
An added challenge is that traditional ways of supporting vocabulary growth, decoding and spelling skills are often compartmentalized and don’t utilise 21st-century teaching approaches.
Fortunately, once you know more about the structure of written English at the word level, you can equip your students with skills to independently access the meaning of unfamiliar words and see links between words, thus deepening their understanding of English whilst enhancing their ability to think critically and problem solve.
Understanding not only how and why words such as <hop> and <hopping> are related but discovering the link between words such as <do> and <done>, <heal> and <health> or <mishap> and <happy> empowers students, giving them greater control of their language, literacy and thinking skills.
right: introducing word families to our youngest children
I think <instruct> fits in the <struct> family because you are building knowledge when you instruct someone. Justin 9 years
below: a matrix for our older children
We use a number of different tools to help our students follow a scientific process when they are analyzing words.
Word sums, word webs, matrices and flow charts are all important parts of a word scientist's tool kit!
above: a word web created by a novice word inquirer
left: Y2 children sorting possible words related to <lock>.
right: Y6 children collaborating to organize a word web