For this unit, I thought long and hard about the skills my students need. Let's face it, "Look it up in the dictionary," is not the most efficient way (and it doesn't make kids better readers). I came up with four strategies for my fourth graders: using words and phrases set off my commas, using context clues, using word parts, and using related words. This Quick Reference Guide explains it all, and I've attached it for your use. (Just click here, or on the image, to download it.)
At one time, I thought my students employed these skills naturally, but that's just not true. Teachers need to point out ways to figure out the meanings of words and terms in text, and then students need to practice them. As with my literature units, I decided to introduce the strategies with a PowerPoint presentation. After that, I'll see what they can do using an exit ticket.
From there, some students will receive remediation on targeted skills with practice worksheets, and everyone else will start practicing with differentiated mixed practice worksheets. I don't know about you, but students in my class do not come to me with the same degree of readiness. Therefore, I need to make this challenging task accessible to all.
Self-directed students who already have a good handle on finding word meaning can use Mixed Practice A. They'll read an informational paragraph, identify words that can be defined using the strategies, identify the strategy, and define the word. Middle-of-the road students will use Mixed Practice B. They get the same paragraph, but the words are listed below. Struggling students will also analyze words in the same paragraph, but theirs are chunked into smaller pieces of text on Mixed Practice C. Four sets of worksheets should do the trick . . . and the assessment is differentiated too.
Okay, I admit it, I'm getting sort of excited for school to start up again.