How-to for word study notebook?

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How-to for word study notebook?

Postby kewukiah » Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:12 am

My 9-year-old daughter is a strong reader, 5th-6th grade level. I want to start a word study notebook for her, to help build reading vocabulary, pronunciation, and spelling. The words I want to include are ones we come across in advanced books I am reading aloud to her and in books she is reading independently. (Some examples of words I want to include are: impromptu, mundane, materialize, transcend, estuary, euphemism.)

Can folks who've done successful work study notebooks with their children tell me how you did it? What kind of notebook did you use? How were the words organized? What information did you include for each word? How did the information get entered in the notebook -- who entered words and information (mom or child)? How did you use the notebook? (e.g. Did you review one page each day/each week? Did you give assignments related to new words entered?)

I especially DON'T want to have the word study notebook make adventuresome advanced reading "a pain." I'm thinking maybe I should read ahead in our advanced read-aloud books to find the words that need be be taught, and enter them in the word study notebook myself or have her do it -- before she hears them as I read aloud to her?

The more detail you can give me on all aspects, the better! Thanks in advance for any information or suggestions!

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Postby TheAssistant » Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:21 am

Well, it really depends on what works for you. Does she learn by writing things out? Maybe have her write the week's vocabulary words a certain number of times to help her lock in the spelling. Is she visual? Highlight related words, draw pictures of what the words mean, use different color ink...

That said, we haven't done word study notebook so these are all just suggestions. Hope they help in some way! :) Bringing the hidden treasures of the internet to light.

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Postby Munchie33 » Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:27 pm

We don't quite make study notebooks - we make flashcards. Initially I would make the cards to get him started, but quickly he learnt to make them himself. People learn more by doing (e.g. writing and making the card) than by reading alone, so he remembers more if he makes them. He writes down any new words and maybe looks them up as he reads, but at the end of each day, he will look them up in more detail and puts on each card: the word, the pronunciation, an example sentence with the word in it, and the etymology (especially if there are Latin or Greek roots). On weekends we test each other with the cards in various ways and make fun games out of it: incorporating them into snakes and ladders, seeing who can make the silliest (but still correct) sentence with the word on their card, quizzing each other on spelling, etc.

Reading ahead for your daughter to find words in advance is a good idea, but if you want it to be sustainable you eventually want to have her doing it herself as a habit. If she's especially competitive, maybe have a challenge once or twice a week where she is tested on all the words from that week and needs to see how many she gets correct. If not, don't make it an explicit assessment tool. You could try to use it in games like we do. Letting her quiz you as well as you quizzing her can seem like great fun and might help with motivation if it's a problem. Also, if she has to come up with good questions about a word, it helps her learn the word a little better as well.

Does she like creative writing? Select several words and ask her to write a story that includes all of them. Does she like rhyming? Make up a funny couplet for each word to help remember it. It depends so much on how she likes to learn and how you can best motivate her.

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Thanks for the responses!

Postby kewukiah » Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:39 am

Thanks for your responses. I especially like the idea of making cards instead of using a notebook -- that will make it easy to add or subtract words and keep things in alphabetical order, and the idea of playing games with the cards sounds great, too! Off to the store to buy cards!

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Postby Theodore » Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:12 am

If it's done with a notebook, it'll never get done. Too much effort, it takes away all the fun of reading and it's less effort to read less than to look up the words later. My advice is to either have her read next to you and ask you the words as she goes along (assuming you have a good vocabulary), or have some sort of electronic dictionary she can key a few letters into right there and have the word pop up immediately. I'm sure there's a cell phone app or iPad app or computer software or web site that would do fine for this.

Book reports are an equally bad idea, incidently, since reading is the best way to learn vocabulary, spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. and anything that motivates you to read less is going to hamper learning more than it helps. Writing assignments should be based on current events, history, research of assorted topics, etc.

Just my two cents as someone who loves to read (lots of nonfiction things as well) but hates to have to interrupt that every minute or two to write something down. Doesn't matter so much if I wasn't enjoying the material already.

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Thanks, I'm fine-tuning our plan

Postby kewukiah » Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:37 am

Thanks for the input! Yes, I definitely don't want to make word study a "drag" on reading! My daughter currently reads 1200+ pages per month independently (and never asks me about an unfamiliar word or looks one up BTW).

I think what will work is to make the word cards only for new words we come across when I'm reading aloud to her. Right now I'm reading a book which she finds fascinating, but it's too advanced for her to read independently. She doesn't mind when I give her a quick definition of an unfamiliar word as I read to her, but she does mind if I stop reading to jot the word down! So I'm going to read with pencil in hand and just put a check-mark in the margin next to new words. Then later, during lesson time, we'll make word study cards for these words. And then we'll use them to review the new words periodically so that when she encounters these words in independent reading, she'll know them already. Along with new words from books I read to her, prefixes, suffixes, and roots will go on word cards.

She lights up when she's able to understand a word by "dissecting" it, or relating it to a word she already knows, so I think she'll actually enjoy making word study cards with my help and playing little quiz games with them.

I agree book reports are awful! Thank heavens, none of my elementary school teachers assigned book reports, and I had to write only a couple in high school, about books I chose myself. But I remember how loudly kids in other classes complained about having to write book reports!

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