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Vocabulary in a SNAP

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Access 100+ effective, practical, and fun vocabulary exercises that take 20 minutes or less. Designed specifically for middle school and high school teachers of grades 6-12, each minilesson can be easily modified to fit your curriculum and your students' needs. Rely on this resource to help refine your instruction and strengthen students' vocabulary, their interest in reading, and their likelihood of success in the 21st century.

Learn how to increase vocabulary for high school and middle school students:

  • Explore more than 100 short, memorable minilessons for teaching vocabulary that can be adapted to fit diverse curricula.
  • Obtain suggestions for scaffolding and accelerating each short vocabulary activity to meet students' individual needs.
  • Target vocabulary words with the most crucial root words, prefixes, and suffixes in the English language to best employ instructional time.
  • Find helpful resources on how to teach vocabulary, such as websites and applications.
  • Gain research-based vocabulary learning strategies used in the minilessons.

Chapter 1: Minilesson Management
Chapter 2: Supportive Strategies and Technology Tools
Chapter 3: Robust Roots
Chapter 4: Powerful Prefixes
Chapter 5: Super Suffixes
Chapter 6: Testing Terms
Chapter 7: Varied Voice
Appendix: Index of All Vocabulary Words Appearing in the Book
References and Resources

Also see Vocabulary in a SNAP: 100+ Lessons for Elementary Instruction.

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Chapter 1


Minilesson Management


bviously, 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.


Chapter 2


Supportive Strategies and Technology Tools


hroughout 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.


Chapter 3


Robust Roots


ou 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,


Chapter 4


Powerful Prefixes


refixes, along with sentence-level and paragraph-level context clues, can be helpful as students 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 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.

The top twenty English prefixes appear in table 4.1 (page 106), with the total percentage of prefixed words each accounts for noted in the third column. You can see that even focusing on only the top three or four prefixes would help your students gain some knowledge of more than 50 percent of all the prefixed words in English. With that fact in mind, this chapter includes a higher number of minilessons for the most popular prefixes and fewer for the less frequently used ones. The first four sets of prefixes listed in table 4.1 (un-, re-, in-, im-, il-, ir-, and dis-) comprise the bulk of lessons in this chapter because they are the most frequently used prefixes. A



Chapter 5


Super Suffixes


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


Chapter 6


Testing Terms


tudents 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. 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. In the lesson titles, the letter a denotes that the minilesson is about one or more academic terms, and the number indicates the order in which the specific lessons appear


Chapter 7


Varied Voice


e 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. In the lesson titles, the letter w denotes that the minilesson is about one or more replacement words, and the number indicates the order in which the specific lessons appear (for example, lesson W1, lesson W2, and so on).

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.





Index of All Vocabulary Words

Appearing in the Book


analogous, 187

abduct, 69–70

analogy, 200–201

abduction, 69–70

analysis, 153–154

abjure, 74–75

angry, 157–158

abstract, 197

announced, 218–219

accredit, 48

antagonist, 198–199

accreditation, 48

antecedent, 45–46

acknowledged, 222–223

antipathy, 86–87

acknowledgments, 190–191

apathetic, 87

add, 174–175

apathy, 86–87

addendum, 186

appendix, 190–191

adduce, 70

appraise, 196

adequately, 159–160

appreciate, 212–213

administrator, 166–167

approximately, 161–162

advisor, 165–166

approximation, 208–209

affable, 225

archetype, 199–200

aggressor, 167

arrange, 175–176

alleged, 219–220

articulate, 183–184, 205–206

allegory, 199–200

ascribe, 94–95

allusion, 200–201

assemble, 175

amiable, 225



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