Written by Susan Nourse, AmeriCorps Member proudly serving at Celerity Lanier School.
A child's ability to fully understand a sentence, a passage, or a book that they are reading stems from their ability to understand to words within that writing. If they have no understanding of the the words they are reading, it makes it impossible for them to make inferences on the plot, theme, tone, etc.
Last week, Celerity Lanier began to roll out the English Language Arts curriculum "Wordly Wise" during our after school programs. Wordly Wise focuses on the importance of building up vocabulary in its connection to total reading comprehension.
The curriculum also allowed the AmeriCorps Members a little freedom in creating our lesson plans, and relating our vocabulary curriculum to other learning opportunities for our students. We introduced my students to their first story, Lady Liberty, by having them try and pass a US citizenship test. They couldn't pass, but that test allowed us to teach them more about US History and government functions. We were able to pretest their knowledge by splitting them up into groups and having them match definitions to their vocab words.
For my 6th and 7th grade classes, we've connected the vocabulary words they're learning to include learning the sign language associated with that word. Learning sign language is not only a skill within itself, it gave my students an opportunity to connect the meaning of their vocab words to a corresponding motion. This process helps address the needs of students who learn differently than others. Students are learning this vocab through auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.
The knowledge these students are learning now will act as a base for the knowledge they will continue to learn. The base on which a child uses their understanding of vocabulary will always need to expand and build upon itself.