Mini-Lessons for Vocabulary Development in English Language Learners

The readings this week helped me to build context around the foundational theories of teaching grammar. In particular, teaching vocabulary to English Language Learners. (You can find the links to the readings below in the references section.)

The reading by Sibold (2011) resonated with me because it helped me to clearly see the distinction between the different tiers of academic vocabulary. This helps me to organize the vocabulary words my Chinese students are required to learn for their various testing for English proficiency in the four language domains. Grade 10 students are required to take 8 exams at the end of the year and the textbooks they use for learning vocabulary words are mandated by the Chinese government. The word lists include English vocabulary words they must know to pass their exams. Each grade to grade 12 has different textbooks and words lists with definitions they must learn to pass their exams. With my understanding of the Three Tier Model (p. 24), I am now able to organize the words into my lessons in a way that builds upon previous knowledge and also help to connect the new words being learned with each tier of knowledge within the model. I believe this will help to build context for my students.

The reading about ‘Languaging and Visualization’ (Rattya, 2013) provided me with a deeper understanding between conceptual knowledge and how to help my students draw connections between what they already know and what they are learning. I enjoyed our group work last week as we worked on the theories together and creating our infographic. These are all great resources I can use to help to guide my lesson planning for grades 10 and 11 classes next year.

Two Mini Vocabulary Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan 1: Basketball Vocabulary

Learner Profile: 24 Grade 10 English language learners (ELLs) in an international department at a Chinese high school. Students mother tongue language is Chinese (Mandarin). They all live and function within a similar socio-cultural and socio-economic class to each other.

Overview and Purpose: A fun and engaging lesson using students’ interest with basketball to teach ‘general academic and multiple meaning words’ (Sibold, 2011) vocabulary. ‘Tier 2’ (p. 24) vocabulary words are used: shoot, score, rim, hoop, dunk.

Resources

Basketball

Hoop or trashcan

White/ Chalk Board

Computer & Overhead Projector

Crossword Puzzle

Bridge-In (5 minutes)

Watch this short video clip of Kobe Bryant talking about learning, success and leadership:

Objective

1) To correctly match the vocabulary word with its definition.2) To shoot basketball into a trashcan or through a hoop.

Pre-Assessment (1 minute)

Class poll asking:

1. How many of you have played basketball?

2. What are some terms used in basketball?

Capture the terms used in basketball from students on the whiteboard for future reference throughout the lesson.

Participatory Activities (10 minutes)

Ahead of time, divide the vocabulary definitions into phrases and mark off three different distances from the basketball hoop. Divide the class into teams. Give one team the first part of the definition. If they correctly guess the vocabulary word, let one of the students try to make a basket from the closest line. If they do not guess correctly, give them the second part of the definition. If they then guess correctly, let one of them shoot from the second line. If they need the whole definition then the student must shoot from the farthest line. The team who scores the most points wins.

Vocabulary words are more easily remembered if they are used in context. Have students use the word in a sentence before they try to make a basket. If they use it correctly, double the points they receive.

Extra double points are earned for each team when a student successfully suggest a synonym for the vocabulary words in the lesson. Synonyms are captured on the whiteboard for future reference. 

When giving context, provide examples of sentences using the vocabulary words and synonymswith several meanings. For example, the word dunk can be used in basketball, as well as swimming, or when students need to dunk something into a substance during chemistry class. Another example is score and how score is used to tally points in basketball but also on an exam. Shoot can be used to describe taking a shot in basketball, as a slang swear word, what we do with a weapon, and how we project an object during experiments. Rim is the outer part of the basketball hoop and also used to describe the top part of a glass, the edges of eyeglasses and a rim on a Petrie dish in biology and chemistry. A hoop is the net attached to the rim in basketball as well as a round object for sports, jewellery, and to describe a circular structure around another item like a cell, organism, or object. 

Post-Assessment (3 minutes)

Crossword Puzzle on projector to complete as a class. Vocabulary words from each lesson are tested in a cumulative formative assessment at the end of each unit. 

Summary (1 minute)

Conclude the lesson with a short inspirational and funny video clip of Kobe Bryant talking about success: 

References

(2011). Amazonaws.com. https://platform-user-content.s3.amazonaws.com/activity_resources/Teaching_Language_Learning_Vocabulary_Dev.pdf

BRYANT. (2017, December 27). KOBE BRYANT – “FAILURE DOESNT EXIST.” YouTube. https://youtu.be/js8OfeEL4jI

(2021). Factoryofsadness.co. https://factoryofsadness.co/wp-content/uploads/getty-images/2017/07/99853469.jpeg

NIKE #KOBESYSTEM Welcome to the KobeSystem. (n.d.). Www.youtube.com. Retrieved July 28, 2021, from https://youtu.be/p48eBeBIWWE

Lesson Plan 2: Film Vocabulary

Learner Profile: 24 Grade 10 ELL students in an international department at a Chinese high school. Students mother tongue language is Chinese (Mandarin). They all live and function within a similar socio-cultural and socio-economic class to each other.

Overview and Purpose: A fun and engaging lesson using students’ interest with film and technology to teach ‘general academic and multiple meaning words’ (Sibold, 2011) vocabulary.‘Tier 2’ (p. 24) vocabulary words are used: plotting, angles, credits, transitions, depth, and script.

Once students are familiar with the terms introduced in this lesson, they can apply their new skills to bring other content areas to life through filmmaking in future lessons within this unit. The activities involved in filmmaking can be particularly helpful to English language learners (ELLs) because the visual component helps ELL’s consolidate their knowledge.

Resources

Poster Paper and Markers

White/ Chalk Board

Computer & Overhead Projector

Pictures of graphs, shapes, movie credits, a transition with objects, and a script from a Hamlet play

Bridge-In (5 minutes)

Watch this short video clip about how to make photos with a mobile phone:

Objective

  1. To create a visual explanation of vocabulary words.
  2. To describe vocabulary words using visual aids. 

Pre-Assessment (1 minute)

Class poll asking:

  • How many of you have a digital camera device?
  • What are some terms used for filmmaking?

Capture the terms used in filmmaking from students on the whiteboard for future reference throughout the lesson.

Participatory Activities (10 minutes)

Ahead of time, divide the vocabulary words and definitions into phrases and cut out each on a sheet of paper.

‘It is important to connect the new words to students’ prior knowledge. Real objects, pictures, and photographs that clearly match unfamiliar words provide visuals that help ELLs make sense of the new words’ (p. 25).

Create 6 groups of 4 students and provide each group with two definitions. Each group is provided with a poster paper and markers. They will use the poster paper to draw pictures explaining the vocabulary words in the context of filmmaking. They will also note any synonyms for the words or create images or diagrams of the synonyms in the context in which they are used. Vocabulary words are more easily remembered if they are used in context so students should also write simple sentences using the vocabulary words or synonyms. Student groups willpresent their posters to the class at the end of the activity.

Posters will be displayed in the class and these vocabulary words will be revisited in future lessons within the unit.

Post-Assessment (3 minutes)

Using pictures of graphs, shapes, movie credits, a transition with objects, and a script from a Hamlet play ask the students to identify what is in the pictures using the vocabulary words and/or synonyms discussed during the lesson. Vocabulary words from each lesson are tested in a cumulative formative assessment at the end of each unit. 

Summary (2 minutes)

Conclude the lesson with a short inspirational and informative video clip about taking photos using different materials and angles:

Personal Reflection:

How was your experience teaching this lesson/activity to your particular learner population in your particular context?

I teach Grade 10 and 11 in a Chinese high school international department. My students are very keen on NBA basketball games, the players, the coaches, and the culture of NBA in the USA. Although they are required to wear school uniforms, they are all very proud to wear different styles of basketball shoes and have different kinds of basketball toys and games they play with at their desks. I often use the videos by Kobe, Jordan, etc. as a Bridge-In activity to bring their focus and attention to what we will be discussing in our lessons. Both the boys and girls look forward to the videos in classes. They are also really interested in Harry Potter so I will often reference Harry Potter books and movies to help them build context with technical vocabulary with their science classes with their Chinese teachers. 

What, if any, changes would you make to the lesson/activity plan before teaching it again?  Explain your reasons for these changes, drawing on your experience and key concepts in this unit.

Generally I am satisfied with my lessons. They both meet the interests of my learners and are engaging with the four language domains. I would change the mini-lesson to a longer lesson and use more vocabulary words to challenge my students to think about synonyms and antonyms for the vocabulary words presented. This would mean I would add a note taking activity with a word chart to help them to connect the vocabulary words with synonyms and antonyms. I like using mindmaps with my students to help them organize their ideas and build context with the words we are using. The readings this week discussed langauging and visualization so I would incorporate this into a writing activity at the end of the play time. I would use a similar process with the basketball activity as I did with the film vocabulary activity where I would have them draw out mindmaps to make connections and build context with the written use of the vocabulary words we learned in the lesson.

Further Reading

References

(2011). Amazonaws.com. https://platform-user-content.s3.amazonaws.com/activity_resources/Teaching_Language_Learning_Vocabulary_Dev.pdf

5 Mobile Photography IDEAS and HACKS you must try! (n.d.). Www.youtube.com. Retrieved July 28, 2021, from https://youtu.be/M5taEYdB_Rc

10 CAMERA HACKS IN LESS THAN 100 SECONDS. (n.d.). Www.youtube.com. Retrieved July 28, 2021, from https://youtu.be/rrDjjbnq4eo

(2021). Wwivirtualacademy.com. https://wwivirtualacademy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/camera-angles-blog.jpg

Published by suzannemarie

Living life to its fullest. I believe in courageously honouring my truth. I am a published author & educator who helps current and future leaders. Lover of meaningful conversations, coffee, food, and learning, I am a global citizen and spiritual badass by day and aspiring yogi by night.

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