Everyday I spend about 10 minutes with my second graders working on a new vocabulary word of the day. The kids have a vocabulary journal. For each new word they write the definition, a synonym and antonym for the word, draw a picture and then use the word in a sentence. The words we have learned so far are commotion, elated, exuberant, lovely, fiction and plethora. I take the words from any of the core texts, from our read aloud stories or I will just open the dictionary to a random page and find a word. In the process, students learn new vocabulary but they also learn 3 other 2nd grade standards, synonyms, antonyms and dictionary skills.
I have been encouraging the students to use their new words right away so that they can incorporate them into their everyday vocabulary. I have also put out a little incentive for the kids. I told them that if they used the words in their journals and also when speaking to us at school, I might give them little tickets. (Tickets are placed in a jar and then at the end of the day I pull several and the kids pulled gets small treats)
The kids were of course very motivated to get treats. This week I have heard and seen LOTS of very simple sentences using our new words. That was rewarding to see. The most impressive use of newly learned vocabulary came yesterday from one of my students. Ramon is a tiny little boy who is still at the very beginning stage of English Development. He is limited in his abilities in English. We were in a kind of chaotic part of the day, during a transition, and he turned to me and said : "Ms. V., there is a plethora of commotion in our classroom!" It was so sweet, cute and wonderful that I just wanted to bend over and kiss him! I opted to congratulate him on his good use of vocabulary and of course, give him several tickets!