Deconstructing vocabulary to connect ideas involves:
- expanding on the background knowledge (exploring knowledge about the topic, the type of text, the structure the ideas will be organised into, and what information we are likely to find)
- identifying linking words (connectives and conjunctions, pronoun reference)
- discussing word meaning (linking words that have similar meanings to interpret ideas and build imagery)
- interpreting meaning based on the use of the word (word meanings can change depending on the type of text, the order it appears in the sentence and the context in which it is used).
Activity 1: word splash
Use a word splash to provide a useful framework for eliciting student prior knowledge before reading.
A word splash:
- encourages and develops prediction skills
- sets the scene
- is designed to develop a sense of discovery
- explores connections and speculates on possibilities
- is a useful tool for group/pair sharing
- can be designed to support underperforming students.
Create a word splash
- read through the text
- decide on key words, phrases, concepts in the text that will provide cues for your students or that may need clarification
- type or write and copy for individual students or groups
- once distributed allow students a few minutes to read through and discuss with others the listed words and phrases. Then they may ask others for clarification or elaboration of some items. Allow them to make predictions about the text
- as a whole class, ask for predictions and encourage all students to participate.
- encourage students to clarify and elaborate on clarifications. Ensure that classroom rules are established for student participation and respect of each other’s input
Encourage students to clarify and elaborate on clarifications. Ensure that classroom rules are established for student participation and respect of each other’s input.
This strategy can be used with great success in other key learning areas (KLAs). Before beginning a new unit of work, a teacher will determine the most important words for the topic and splash or display them across the room. A word splash may also be used as a culminating activity by using the vocabulary words as a category in a jeopardy-style game or by having the students quiz others (teachers/students). The students can also demonstrate their math, science, or social studies knowledge by using the original Word Splash cards or stickers as the basis of an informative hallway bulletin board for other classes to read and learn from.
The word splash strategy sets the stage for vocabulary acquisition by giving the students a method for organising and storing the new words. The more the students interact with the new terms by predicting their meanings, illustrating the definitions and creating a folder word splash, the easier it is for them to comprehend the content area topic they are studying. Teachers can build on the vocabulary strategy by using the words as part of their culminating activity.
Australian curriculum – ACELA1464: Text structure and organisation: Understand how texts are made cohesive through resources, for example word associations, synonyms, and antonyms.
NSW syllabus – EN1-9B: Understand how texts are made cohesive through resources, for example word associations, synonyms, and antonyms
NSW literacy continuum – Comprehension, Cluster 5, Marker 2: Builds understanding by interpreting and discussing inferred meanings.