This blog post – whilst recognising that what happens in one classroom will not change the ‘world’ of a school alone - is not an attempt at address the Pandora's box of whole school literacy. If you’re interested in that then I recommend visiting Chris Hildrew’s blog.
- have not been heard or read before
- unlock more sophisticated concepts
- build self-esteem and aspiration
- create autonomy and power in the user
Increasingly nowadays my Powerpoint is my lesson plan. With one group, I've made sure every lesson there is a yellow box on the right hand side with 'rich' vocabulary in to scaffold their ideas and discussions. It also acts as a useful aide memoire for my future planning as I can see words they have previously been exposed to.
Drop them (in)
To secure understanding the 'rich' word needs to be followed by a pithy explanation of the meaning. The best definition for encouraging confidence has to be the single word summary - see above. There's plenty of time for refining that definition once the word has gained some familiarity.
If you don't yet follow @ChrisMoyse, you need to start following @ChrisMoyse. This is my 100% plagiarised version of an awesome display of his creation. Each fry packet from a well known food chain, contains 'rich' synonyms for the word underneath. In my Faculty, we've also got paint colour charts that do the same job, but any Twitter search will reap a plethora of other imaginative ways to display these words in a way that shows just how exciting they are.
By this I mean find a way of making them memorable. Here's a simple method from a lesson this term: words that start with the letter 'D'. This slide was introducing students to the relationship between Curley and his wife in that educational pariah 'Of Mice and Men'. We then divided them into three categories: male stereotypes; female stereotypes; the effect of these ideologies. This vocabulary framed the lesson and ensured that, at all points after this, students were using vocabulary sophisticated enough to articulate concepts related to gender roles, misogyny and patriarchy.
Return to them
It's one thing to walk out of a lesson proudly (and metaphorically) clutching a new word, but it's quite another to return on a new day still brandishing that word like a verbal blade. Making the next lesson's pre-starter remind students of their wonderful new word-y weaponry will make all the difference.
With the coming of the new National Curriculum for English from September (that some of us still have to adhere to, Academites) we've introduced a standard cover sheet for all of schemes of work that will clearly identify 'rich' words that students should be exposed to over the unit. As Wayne from Wayne's World once said: 'Plan for it and it will happen'. Or at least I'm sure he said something to that effect.
Be it scrabble or Sports Day, I love a bit of competition - and so do students. Whatever your reward system, ensure that no use of a 'rich' word goes unnoticed, acknowledged and praised. For us it's Vivos with points literally meaning pennies to spend in the Argos catalogue. We also have rather lovely 'Literate learner' stickers (and any teacher worth their salt knows the power of a good sticker).