Why do we teach vocabulary?
At Crags, we recognise the importance of how a learners’ vocabulary impacts upon their expressive and receptive language skills and their ability to comprehend meaning when reading. It is vital that we explicitly teach both new vocabulary and give our learners the tools to infer the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary in the texts that they read.
How do we teach vocabulary?
In order to introduce and teach vocabulary systematically and consistently across the school new vocabulary is introduced using the Word Aware STAR Approach.
Staff select vocabulary which relates to the topics and texts that learners are studying.
A new word is introduced during each Word Aware session which takes place at least once per week in each class. Sessions in EYFS are based on the Concept Cats Word Aware Approach and in KS1 and KS2 words are introduced alongside the Word Wizard Maps.
Learners have opportunities to revisit and embed their understanding and use of the vocabulary taught through cross-curricular lessons and hands on experiences some of which are delivered through continuous provision in the classrooms.
Staff will play games with the children at various points throughout the week to ask them to recall their understanding of the words taught including phonological cues and word association etc.
Vocabulary is selected which relates to the topics and texts that learners are studying and which learners are likely to encounter during the term. Some concept words are included where appropriate. The words are categorised as follows:
Anchor words are typically common words which learners should already know and be able to use in context.
These are words which we will explicitly teach in Word Aware sessions. They relate to the topic being taught but can be used in other contexts too.
These are more complex, topic-specific words which learners are unlikely to come across in other situations and which most adults may have very basic/ rudimentary understanding of.
In EYFS, one Goldilocks ‘concept’ word is taught in each session. There are three sessions per week during carpet time and learners sing a song or do the Word Aware Rap. During the day, they also have a story which contains the word or is about the word to reinforce it. Learners also have opportunities to use the word and embed their understanding of it via continuous provision.
Concept words are taught using the Word Wizard map but in addition, staff provide additional hands-on practical experiences to ensure learners have a clearer understanding of the concept in hands.
In KS1 and KS2, each week learners are introduced to at least one word from the Goldilocks word list, this is delivered using Word Wizard Maps. These topic webs offer a visual prompt for learners to refer to throughout the week.
Actions are often added as an aide-memoire which supports learners who prefer a more kinaesthetic learning style. In addition, a range of auditory prompts are also used such as identifying the number of syllables in the word, generating rhyming pairs or identifying the opening sound of the word.
Each Word Aware session lasts between 10 and 20 minutes and is taught to the whole class. Classes in KS1 and KS2 access these sessions at least once per week.
All vocabulary will be displayed in class using a consistent format. The words and word wizard maps will be added to the working wall as they are taught and vocabulary will be colour-coded according to their word type using the same strategy as ‘Colourful Semantics’.
Studies have shown that people need to encounter new words at least twenty seven times in order to remember and use them properly in context. As a result, learners are provided with opportunities to use the words introduced in the Word Aware session throughout the week. This can take place in a number of ways, some of which include:
Word Aware Games – these require children to explore the ‘properties/characteristics’ of a word and its meaning.
Continuous Provision – e.g. opportunities to practise using the word in the spot tray, role play area, construction zone or the Crags garden etc. For example, if children are introduced to the word ‘Squelch’. They may further use and embed this word through retelling the story ‘We are Going on a Bear Hunt’ in the role play area or explore materials that squelch in the spot tray etc
Writing – e.g. After being introduced to the word ‘humid’, children in Year 3 were asked to use this when scripting a ‘weather report for Brazil’ which they filmed on IPADs.
Reading – e.g. In an UKS2 reading session, learners were asked to underline unfamiliar vocabulary within a passage. The readers were then asked to use the context, spelling cues (eg. Use of prefixes/suffixes) and the context as a whole to clarify/identify the meanings of new vocabulary.
Maths – e.g. During a Y2 maths session, learners were asked to apply their understanding of the word ‘faces’ to sort shapes based on their properties.
Science – e.g. After being introduced to the word ‘melting’ learners conducted experiments and investigate the melting point of: chocolate, butter or ice.
Foundation Subjects Lessons – Learners during a Year 5 Geography lesson explored the concept of ‘erosion’ further by making a ‘mini cliff’ in the sand tray and using water and straws to replicate the ‘impact’ of erosion on a cliff.
Family Group - Whilst learning about farm animals, children in EYFS were introduced to the concept word of ‘same’ by sorting animals by type and comparing their number of legs etc using the small world apparatus.
Learners are given opportunities to review their understanding of the vocabulary taught at the end of the lesson, and then at other times throughout the day/week/term. This may be using a word aware game such as guess my word or by using a word pot and asking learners to recall certain ‘properties of a word’.