"One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar." ---Helen Keller

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vocabulary Voyage

I am about to go on a voyage!! A voyage of learning everything I can about how children increase their vocabulary. I am already reading, talking, researching, and reflecting on my own 30 year career in the classroom. Why am I about to embark on this voyage?

The Voyager spacecraft launched in August and September of 1977 and spent more than 11 years exploring the likes of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune before officially heading off toward interstellar space in 1989.

I have made an observation through our Pitsco Missions used with grades 3-5 in the schools that I work with. The Missions program consists of a week long station in which students work on a science topic. They are fully immersed in that topic for five days. Each day they read a two page content "briefing", and answer two questions. After the briefing, the students work through a hands-on activity using teamwork to complete the "mission." As students participate in the missions program, they encounter 10 bold print vocabulary words for the mission during their week long visit to the science station. Five of those words are part of a matching section in the post test for the mission along with five multiple choice questions that are related to their briefing questions.

I have discovered a trend in the post test scores. Students are not fully understanding the vocabulary that goes along with the mission. They don't do well on matching the terms to their definition. Just seeing them in bold print while reading their missions is not enough to insure that the students understand these terms!!!

I have also noticed in the performance assessment that is given with each mission, that students do not use the vocabulary when explaining how something works.

There is much research already available to support that students with a deficit in vocabulary will not have optimum comprehension. They need multiple visits with the words before a solid understanding of the vocabulary takes place. Anyway, I will save all of that for now...

I will be sharing information in small doses to help us help our students learn that much needed science vocabulary.

Come join my voyage of learning!