Research says that vocabulary is least well learned under the following conditions:
- Mindless repetition and defining of words
- Using words that are too difficult
- Choosing words that have no connection to students’ lives, studies, interests, or other words and concepts they may know.
One vocabulary activity that gives the control back to the student in terms of learning new words is Word Harvesting.
This activity allows students to:
- Collect or “harvest” 5-10 words in a book they are reading or studying.
- Choose words that they don’t know or can’t explain in their own words.
- Use a word web or vocabulary chart to learn their harvested words.
- Find ways to make connections to their own lives while learning these words.
This activity can be done in a whole group so the teacher can model how to “harvest” words. Then, it can be done in a small group, and finally, independently.
You can come up with creative ways to assess, such as:
- Having students create their own multiple choice test.
- Having students create a PowerPoint with definitions, pictures, and sentences.
- Having students act out the words for you.
- Having students write a paragraph with their new words.