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Vocabulary in a SNAP: 100+ Lessons for Elementary Instruction

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Elementary educators face crucial questions when shaping their vocabulary teaching methods—what vocabulary words to target and how to foster self-directed learning. SNAP (Seeing/Saying, Naming, Acting, and Producing) can help increase student confidence and interest in reading and improve 21st century skills.

This innovative book provides more than 100 research-based mini-lessons with vocabulary exercises to help teachers efficiently shape instruction, each taking no more than 20 minutes of instructional time. Teachers can modify these flexible, effective templates to fit their curriculum and their students’ needs.

Learn how to refine your teaching methods to increase students’ vocabularies:

  • Explore more than 100 short vocabulary lessons that can be adapted to fit diverse curricula.
  • Obtain scaffolding and acceleration suggestions to meet students’ individual needs.
  • Target the most crucial root words, prefixes, and suffixes in English vocabulary to best employ instructional time.
  • Find helpful technology resources for vocabulary instruction, such as websites and applications.
  • Peruse an alphabetized vocabulary list of all the words featured in the lessons.

“What students do during the entire SNAP mini

-lesson is formative practice designed not only to enhance vocabulary but to increase student enjoyment of learning about words.”

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9 Chapters

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1 Minilesson Management



Minilesson Management

Obviously, you’re interested in what you can do to help your students embrace word learning and enlarge their vocabularies. This book can be a handy resource for you and for other professionals in the building who want to address students’ critical need for high levels of vocabulary knowledge. By addressing this critical need, you will be helping students move more clearly toward success in academia and in the world of work.

Vocabulary in a SNAP can fuel teacher inquiry and data collection. After using some of the minilessons, ask your students if they feel they’re learning more words. Ask them if they are excited about word learning. Analyze their speaking and writing for improved word choice. Along with trusted colleagues, determine which minilessons, instructional strategies, and digital tools work best, and continue refining vocabulary instruction at your school. This chapter lays out the research basis for the SNAP minilessons, highlights the flexibility and adaptability of this framework, clarifies the structure and components of the minilessons in depth, and explains the logistics of implementing the minilessons in your classroom.


2 Supportive Strategies and Technology Tools



Supportive Strategies and Technology Tools

Throughout the minilessons that the following chapters describe, I note instructional strategies that teachers may wish to use during steps A and P in specific minilessons. This chapter describes each instructional strategy in detail to benefit you as you dive deeper into the lessons in this book. You may also draw from these strategies for support in identifying ways to customize the lessons to best serve your and your students’ needs. Throughout the minilessons, I also mention a number of technological tools, including websites, applications, and games. This chapter includes explanations of these tools, as well. Recommendations for good online videos to illustrate a strategy or tool—when they exist—appear throughout this chapter. Please note that web addresses often change, but all videos were current and functioning as this book went to press.

Choral Response

Choral response is a method of classroom discussion in which students call out responses in unison. Choral response is effective for providing repeated opportunities to deepen declarative knowledge. For example, if you ask a question that requires a short answer, such as one about a definition or a step in a process, you can use choral response instead of calling on volunteers to answer. All students would be asked to say the answer on your cue. Teachers often use a hand signal or count to three before students respond.


3 Robust Roots A–K



Robust Roots A–K

You may remember at some point in your own K–12 education completing a unit of study on Greek or Latin roots. My eighth-grade year was the year that my English teacher engaged us in what she called minicourses, most of which consisted of a slew of independent work that had to be completed and then bound into some kind of binder for her inspection. I vaguely remember the minicourses on journalism and word study being my favorites. Learning about roots, word families, and affixes in the word study minicourse was a joy for me. However, years later, when I tried to generate similar joy in my classroom, I failed miserably. Why did my students not find roots as mesmerizing as I did? That question I may never be able to answer, but I do know that the student who has knowledge of frequently used roots is the student who has a useful tool in his or her toolkit. The study of roots is definitely worth spending time on and can support our students in preparing for future academic study. This is not just teacher lore; many studies attest to word analysis as a practice that increases both students’ vocabulary and their general knowledge of language (Graves, 2006; Graves & Hammond, 1980; White, Sowell, & Yanagihara, 1989).


4 Robust Roots L–Z



Robust Roots L–Z

In this chapter, we’ll examine roots that begin with the letters l through z. As with other minilessons in this book, you can do any of the words at any time. There is no intended order or specific sequence; trust your professional judgment about what lessons might be most appropriate and when. The numbering system from the previous chapter continues here, with the letter r denoting that the minilesson is about one or more roots, and the number indicating the order in which the specific lessons appear.

Root: luc

This root and its other forms lum and lus originate from the Latin lux, lucis, and lumen. All of these roots mean “light” or, in some cases, “bright.” Visit the blog post “Latin Root Word Luc Means Light, Bright” (Kenning, 2012; for an interesting discussion of this root. (Visit to access live links to the websites mentioned in this book.)


5 Powerful Prefixes



Powerful Prefixes

Prefixes, along with sentence-level and paragraph-level context clues, can be helpful as students try to read difficult text. However, in my experience, even high school students don’t know all the word parts (roots, prefixes, and suffixes) that they should know in order to best support them as they tackle complex text for class discussion and in their independent reading.

A prefix is a not a word but a word part, attached to a stem to make a new word, often with a very different meaning from the stem alone.

This deficit that our students so readily display as we engage with academic text in our classrooms thus presents us with quite the dilemma. The good news about prefixes is that only twenty of them account for 97 percent of all prefixed words in printed academic text (White et al., 1989). So, if we choose to teach about prefixes and prefixed words, focusing most of our teaching time on the top twenty prefixes just makes good common sense.


6 Super Suffixes



Super Suffixes

A suffix, like a prefix, is a word component added to a base word to make a new word. While prefixes are added to the beginnings of words, suffixes are added to the ends of words. The word beauty becomes beautiful with the addition of one of the most frequently used suffixes, -ful. The suffixes -er and -or are added to bases or roots to create all sorts of words that denote a person’s occupation or role, like teacher, singer, dancer, writer, doctor, aviator, curator, and surveyor. Other suffixes, though lesser used, immediately give us information about a word’s meaning. For example, -dom added to free lets us know about a state of being, freedom, and added to bore, it denotes a less pleasant state of being, boredom. Suffixes can make new words by adding either inflectional or derivational endings.

Inflectional endings account for 65 percent of all suffixed words (White et al., 1989). Inflectional endings give us grammatical information about any word they are added to. They add a letter or group of letters to base words to make different grammatical forms of the words, helping us determine how a word functions in a sentence. Verbs are inflected for number, tense, and to make participles and gerunds. For example, when the suffix -ed is added to a verb form, we know that the verb is in past tense. When -ing is added to a verb form, we know that the verb is either serving in the present progressive tense or functioning as a participle or gerund. The sentence “I’m shopping online instead of doing my homework” uses the word shopping in the present progressive tense to describe what I’m doing right now. The sentence “Shopping as I went along, I really enjoyed the tour of Rome” uses the word shopping as a participle to describe my actions. And lastly, “Shopping is one of my favorite pastimes” employs shopping as a special kind of noun called a gerund, which in this sentence serves as the subject of the sentence. When -s and -es are added to nouns, the nouns become plural. Adjectives are inflected to make their comparative and superlative forms, as in nice, nicer, and nicest.


7 Testing Terms



Testing Terms

Students are bombarded with many forms of assessment these days—classroom assignments, including quizzes, tests, papers, and presentations; common assessments across a team, grade level, course, or entire school; systemwide benchmark assessments and writing prompts; and high-stakes assessments from the state or province level. At times, it seems that students are assessed more often than they are taught; as a matter of fact, I’ve heard many teachers express this sentiment. Obviously, instruction and assessment are two sides of the same coin—but various types of assessment, both formative and summative (both those the teacher generates and those generated from afar) are here to stay, and it behooves us to equip our students to deal with them. This chapter focuses on words that are most often used in assessing students on what they have learned.

We begin with some of the most common words from reading, writing, and language assessments. This seems a logical place to start since words are especially important to the discipline of English language arts. Also, from almost the first moment in the classroom, students are being read to. Teachers need to teach certain basic words about text immediately. This chapter also includes some of the most basic words used in mathematics, but many of them have application outside the discipline as well. And lastly, this chapter includes general words used in classroom discourse and formative and summative assessment. None of the words in this chapter are so specialized or rare that they are not worthy of discussing in any classroom. They constitute a foundational academic vocabulary for the earliest years of school.


8 Varied Voice



Varied Voice

We teachers often bemoan the words that our students use—the slang that creeps in, the text message–like writing, the basic words that are used repetitively. In this chapter, the lessons will support you as you encourage your students to break out of the ordinary word rut and use more sophisticated, accurate words in both writing and speaking. First, we address perhaps the most tired word in all student writing, the ubiquitous said. Then we cover replacements for another tired and vague word, nice.

Words to Replace the Overused Verb Said

Students use common and unspecific words in much of their normal everyday conversation, and this lack of imagination and diversity often carries over to their writing. These first few lessons help students distinguish among various shades of meaning and choose better words for said.

Lesson W1: announced, blurted, ordered, complained

In this minilesson, teachers will teach words to use in place of said, such as the words announced, blurted, ordered, and complained.


Appendix: Index of All Vocabulary Words Appearing in the Book


Appendix: Index of All Vocabulary Words Appearing in the Book

The index that appeared in the print version of this title was intentionally removed from the eBook. Please use the search function on your eReading device to search for terms of interest. For your reference, the terms that appear in the print index are listed below.
















































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