By Paula
One of my Instructional Coaches and I prepared for a faculty meeting this week, and I thought I'd share the plan here, since we're talking a LOT about how visual images increase vocabulary understanding and attention.

Opening: on the document camera, Hollins will display an image of a circle with two radii drawn inside to form an acute angle (or another geometric shape). Asking "What do you notice?" we hope to pull the vocabulary out of our audience. We will ask probing questions to construct the definitions as we discuss what people see.

Next, we will show another example of using visuals to define words as we show a Google Lit Trip, By The Great Horned Spoon, specifically looking at the "Talk Like a Sailor" section, clicking on first porthole (to elicit the definition from the kids) and then "stowaway" to see it in a more traditional manner.

Then, we will look at a photo taken by Ben Grey called Scale.

We'll contrast this image of scale with a traditional worksheet where students are asked questions such as :

Mr. Guzman is making a bookcase. Each shelf will be 1 yard long. A length of
1 yard is about the same as —
A 10 millimeters
B 10 centimeters
C 1 kilometer
D 1 meter

Which of the following units of measure is appropriate to measure a football field?
A millimeters
B centimeters
C kilometers
D meters

Then, we will split in to 4 groups. The framing question for the 4 groups is: How does this activity support vocabulary acquisition for students?

Group 1 will first use directions to draw specific geometric figures. The directions will be something like this:

Draw a right triangle. Label the right triangle with the appropriate symbol. Label the hypotenuse 5cm.

After they have attempted to draw 5 of these figures, they will be given a set of ten figures already drawn and have to match the drawn figure with the appropriate directions. The group will then compare the two experiences and talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each when supporting student understanding of content vocabulary.
From the share out: The six teachers worked collaboratively on the drawing part of this task and readily described how they figured out some of the definitions from the context of the directions. They also thought that being given descriptions and being asked to draw them was EASIER than the matching--that drawing first helped them think about the vocabulary so it made the matching easier in this case, BUT if they had had the matching first, it would have been much harder.

Group 2 will complete a concept sort with triangles and label/describe their sorts. From the share out: this group of teachers split in half and worked collaboratively within each group. One group actually was bothered by the fact that they had shapes with 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 sides, but not one with nine--so one teacher actually drew a nine-sided figure to add to the sort. That group also discussed whether it was possible to have a one-sided or two-sided figure. The other group sorted by names of the shapes, so had categories within categories (types of triangles within the triangle group, for example.) They talked about the language and vocabulary they shared as they sorted (like scalene.)

Group 3 will use a sheet of numberless clocks that show the various fractions possible. The fractions include 12:05, 12:10. 12:15, etc. with two radii (clock hands) drawn from the circle to form each fraction of the circle. This group will name each fraction with at least 3 equivalent fractions, if they can. From the share out: This activity is straight out of our math series, Investigations, and one teacher in the group had actually used this earlier in the year, so spoke to that experience with the group. They also wrote down a list of the vocabulary words they used as they were doing the activity, so they were reflecting as they worked.

Group 4 is going to play "Set" on the iPod Touches. From the share out: The group thought the game Set was HARD, but they loved the iPod Touches and so I showed them another app the kids love called Math Tables. (See a review of it here by Nicolas.) Again, teachers noted the amount of vocabulary encountered in the game Set and they also saw the power of the reverse engineering of math facts in Math Tables. Explore the SET web site for teaching materials (on the downloads link) and a short tutorial, as well as directions directions and scaffolded games . More SET links: An online version {One of the fifth graders has created a wikipage about the SET game here, with LOTS of resources .}

Then, each group will share out.

Wrap up- We will look at a word problem to discuss how to approach vocabulary instruction through problem solving.
The problem we chose was from the Balanced Assessment series. It showed students a shape (such as a rectangle). The writing was "This shape is one half of a shape. Draw the whole shape. Then try to find another answer."

Resources: If you need another copy of the vocabulary assigned to your grade level,
The DOE has a link for vocabulary flashcards:
The county lists vocabulary by grade level in the curriculum guides found in SchoolNet .