As an educator, I consider twitter my go-to space for great PD. It was thanks to a twitter tweet that I was able to engage my students so well as we focused on learning the meanings of vocabulary words in the books we were reading during December.
Back on Halloween, a teacher at my school retweeted this tweet:
Seeing the images, I agreed with my colleague!! It looked fun and I must admit, I did not have many teaching vocabulary lessons up my sleeve. I looked at the calendar and decided December would be the month to give this a try. For the first two weeks, kids read and gather intriguing vocabulary words as they read books. Then during the last week before Winter Break, I held the First Annual Fab Vocab Fashion Show for each my five Reading 6 blocks.
During the first week in December, I modeled my own reading and gathering of words. I read-loud Peter Reynolds’ Word Collector to set the tone.
As he highlights during the story, great words can be small, one-syllable words, two syllable words, multi-syllabic or just sounds fun to say like the words molasses and smudge. All words ensure that we describe exactly what we want others to understand. Each of us was to jot down at least 10 words we found intriguing as we read our independent book. I gave a chart to help the students collect their words.
During the 2-weeks of collecting words, I made a game I learned from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project called Shades of Meaning. First, I picked an opposite word pair – hot/cold. I looked each word up in the thesaurus and picked five words.
I added each word to an index card and made 5 sets and gave each table group a set of these cards. I asked them to deal out the cards and take turns adding one word at a time to make a contiuum of words. “Ask yourself, is your word colder or hotter than the words placed before you.” The table groups talked. Some used their iPad to check the word meaning. All could justify why the words were placed in the order on the table. Then I had each table group create their own Shades of Meaning word list. They picked an opposite word pair. They used their iPad thesaurus. One person recorded words. My favorite table chose BIG-LITTLE and added Shaquille O’Neill and Kevin Hart to their list! (I used this student work to make more Shades of Meaning Card Sets. It became a center visited after the fashion show (see more info about centers below)
During the third week in December, I gave the students one block (84 minutes) to choose their word from their, write down the part of speech, the definition, write a creative sentence using the word and sketch out their costume. Once it was all planned out, they made their word sign to wear as they walked the fashion show runway. All were busy planning!! I was busy conferring with each student. “What’s your word? What do you find intriguing about that word? How do you plan to dress as this word?” I created a google spreadsheet which listed each student, their word and the 3-columns for the judges to add their score. Yes, 3 columns – my colleague and I decided to give out 3 Awards: Fashionista (best costume), Strut-Your-Stuff (best runway walk), and Writer’s Craft (best sentence written).
I also lined up judges – the principal, the assistant principal, the head reading teacher, an 8th grade teacher, the computer science teacher, the gifted teacher, the 6th grade counselor, the district supervisor of Personalized Learning, my own mom (who brought along 3 retired teacher friends, and my retired sister-in-law. I assigned judges to have at least three at each of my five periods.
On the day of the Fashion Show, I arranged the room. I spread out two red table cloths to act as the Red Carpet Runway. I arranged all the chairs to be on each side of the “runway” and the Judges Table to be at the end of the runway. As students arrived, they quickly took a seat, added their word card around their neck. A few frantically ran to the bathroom to change into a costume. A few who were absent on the work day quickly made a word sign. Judges arrived and the show began!! Once all had walked the runway, said their word, definition and sentence, the judges had the tough job of picking winners.
Here’s the photos I took as the judges announced the winners.
Following the Fashion Show, the students visited six Vocabulary Centers:
Shades of Meaning Center – see photo above
Mad Libs Center – write silly stories with a partner
Word Art Center – pick a word from the show and write it in a creative way
Game Center – use Bananagram tiles to make words
Writer’s Center – write a story, trying to use words from the Fashion Show
Analogy Center – choose a word and choose an image and record yourself on flipgrid saying your analogy.
From the photos, you can see how much fun all had!! I honestly did not know if middle schoolers would like participating in a Fab Vocab Fashion Show. I am so glad I saw this idea on twitter and, with my colleague’s support, gave it a try. Hosting a Fashion Show was the perfect way to end my teaching in 2019!