Saturday, September 6, 2008

Vocabulary Quiz Stories

Yesterday I gave my freshmen and seniors the vocabulary words, literary terms, and Latin and Greek roots they'll need to learn for next week. Over the course of a 10-week quarter, students can expect to have about eight of these weekly quizzes.

The quiz consists of three components. The first is a story which utilizes 10 of the 11 vocabulary words they're assigned. The story is about 300 words long, and contains 10 blanks where the vocabulary words are supposed to go. There's a word bank, and students put the right word in each blank.

The next section involves defining and providing an example or examples of three literary terms. The final section asks students to define four roots, pick a word that contains that root, and use it correctly in a sentence.

I am creating the quiz for next week. After that, the students will take turns in pairs creating it each week. I provide students with instructions on how to make the quiz, and I make myself available before and after school to help them edit the quiz to ensure they followed the instructions. If they create a challenging, fair, and solvable quiz, the students each earn 100 for a quiz grade.

If they fail to make the quiz, they earn a zero. If they misuse a word or part of the quiz is unsolvable, the students lose 10 points for each error. The goal here is to create a coherent quiz that a student who has learned the words can succeed on, and one who hasn't will likely do poorly (i.e. a fair assessment).

Students e-mail me the quiz in electronic form, and I am easily able to: 1) edit it with them, and 2) reproduce it on paper.

The vocabulary words come from literature we're reading and a list of the most common words found on the SAT. It is common for students to mention that a word they learned for my class appeared in their biology or history textbook, or in another book they happened to be reading outside of class.

The literary terms and definitions all come from the Massachusetts Department of Education, and are terms they are likely to encounter on the MCAS test.

The roots come from the same list of common SAT words, as these "word parts" are used to comprise many of those words.

If you're interested in an example of one of these quizzes, leave me a comment and I can send one by e-mail. Next week I plan to post a PDF copy of the vocabulary quiz creation instructions on my English Teaching Resources page.

Enjoy the weekend. Go Pats!


Tammy Gillmore said...

I would love to see this!

We discuss and debate every year the best stratey to teach vocabulary.

Thanks for sharing!

Mr. B-G said...

You're welcome Tammy. Feel free to send me an e-mail at bgvocab(at)yahoo(dot)com and I will respond with a quiz example.

How do you you currently teach vocabulary at your school? Are there any methods or strategies that you've seen have more success than others?

Some of my goals for teaching vocab this way are for students to see the words in multiple contexts (literature we read, sentences they and classmates write, and then again in the vocab quiz story).

I also like the idea of having them use the words in a real writing situation where they publish a story read by their classmates.

By requiring students to use the words correctly to make meaning, I (hopefully) reinforce the idea that while it's great for them to be able to decode and comprehend these words when they see them in texts, it can be even better to use them in their own writing when the situation allows.

Meg Garcia said...

I too would love to see an example. I have just about given up on vocab as archaic and tedious. I really like the ideas you have here. I was also wondering what the vocab list looks like for the students. Do you give the definitions, the examples of the lit terms?

Thanks for getting my creative ideas flowing again, your site is awesome!

Mr. B-G said...

Hi Meg,

The literary terms all come from the Massachusetts Department of Education English Language Arts Curriculum Frameworks. I teach the students those terms. I initially begin with the framework definitions, sometimes elaborating or concising the definitions.

I always give them examples in class, or show them how the term is used. More often than not, I'm able to show them how the term directly relates to whatever we happen to be reading at that particular moment.

The vocab comes from the literature. If you Google "To Kill a Mockingbird vocabulary" you'll come across a number of sites with vocab lists.

I use challenging vocab from the literature that the students don't know. We assign a part of speech and define the words in class, so everyone's working from the same definitions.

The roots and SAT words come from SAT prep books. I'll use the SAT words when we're between novels or units.

The roots, like the literary terms, are constant throughout the year.

Feel free to send me an e-mail (bgvocab (at) yahoo (dot) com) and I can send you a sample quiz.

The quiz instructions and MA DOE literary terms are on my bgteacher page.

Thanks for the props, and thanks for visiting!

YeSeul said...

Making a quiz is a wonderful method. Once they experience making a quiz, they will know what is a quiz like. When they make a quiz, they have to know what is important, what the students know, The teacher gave instructions how to make a quiz. It is a scaffolding.If teachers provide scaffolding, learning for students get easier than before. Since it gives correct direction, the students don't need to be clumsy. The teacher mentioned fair assessment. I believe that fair assessment is important for students and teachers both. If a teacher doesn't have a fair assessment, the students will complain about that. The worst thing is that they don't trust the teacher. I think your method is great. I should try someday.