Vocabulary Lesson Plans

Vocabulary Lesson Plans

The nuance of vocabulary and how WordMasters aligns with Common Core

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Today I want to focus on the word nuance, which is derived from a French word meaning “shades” (as in small differences in color).  Borrowing once again from Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl’s 101 Words to Sound Smart:

In English, a nuance is a subtle difference.  You can think of it as shades of meaning, taste, color or feeling with only slight differences, just as there is a slight difference in color between fern and forest green crayons.

Fogarty goes on to include this wonderful excerpt from journalist Henry Hazlitt’s Thinking as a Science:

A man with a scant vocabulary will almost certainly be a weak thinker.  The richer and more copious one’s vocabulary and the greater one’s awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one’s thinking.  Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together.  If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.

The WordMasters Challenge is designed to encourage students to explore the nuances of language – to know not only what a word means, but also how to use it in conversation or composition.  If your school is implementing the Common Core State Standards, note how the skills developed through WordMasters are specifically targeted through the following standards:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.5:  Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.5b:  Use the relationship between particular words (e.g. cause/effect, part/whole, item/category) to better understand each of the words.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.5c: Distinguish among the connotations (associations) of words with similar denotations (definitions), e.g. bullheaded, willful, firm, persistent, resolute.

More on how WordMasters aligns with the Common Core State Standards to come!



 

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Expand Your Vocabulary and Sharpen Your Analogy Skills with Twitter

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Follow us on Twitter and play along as we tweet daily analogies.  Analogies will be posted Monday through Friday, increasing in difficulty as the week progresses (like the NY Times Crossword Puzzle!).  The number that appears before the analogy indicates the Challenge level where the analogy was previously used; for example, (4B) means the analogy appeared in a 4th Grade - Blue Division Challenge.

If you are unfamiliar with analogy notation, remember that a single colon (:) means "is to" and a double colon (::) means "as".  So "black : white :: good : evil" reads "black is to white as good is to evil".  Usually, we leave just the last term out, so to solve the analogy you choose the word that makes the most sense.  Sometimes we leave the second part of the analogy out altogether, so you must choose a pair of words that have the same relationship as the first pair.

The correct answer to each day's analogy will be tweeted the following day.  

Teachers, this is a great way to keep your students thinking analytically over the summer and between Challenge meets!  

Good luck and have fun!


 

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From the Students: Before you know it, kids will be saying, “A skinflint took my money!”

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A group of students teamed up and wrote letters to their future junior high schools which did not have a WordMasters team. Their intent was to get a team started at their new school so they could continue participating in the WordMasters Challenge this coming school year. We thought they said it best in their own words. Enjoy!

 

December 11, 2012

Dear Mr. H,

            Did you know that kids that know more words are generally smarter children? Well, it’s true! And if you want that for your students, then you should do this thing called WORDMASTERS. It’s a fun way to learn lots of new words. Now if you don’t mind… we’d like to tell you a thing or two about this educational system.

            WordMasters words are a great way to enrich a student’s vocabulary! If all the grades did WordMasters then 1st graders could read Harry Potter books! Kids will be able to do harder assignments at younger grades. Before you know it, kids will be saying, “What an exquisite day today!” and “A skinflint took my money!!!” It sounds strange now but if your students do WordMasters, this is what your average conversation might sound like!

            With WordMasters words, you will develop smarter children! Your students will have better grades and don’t forget, better grades mean better jobs, which will help our economy. You could do all this and more if only you would allow us to compete in the WordMasters Challenge! It’s a tremendous way to learn analogies too. If only you had WordMasters at your school, your students could be mini geniuses!

            OHH! And how could I forget to tell you!!! Not only is WordMasters educational, it’s also a really fun way to learn! I mean we obviously enjoy it or we wouldn’t be writing this 5-paragraph essay about doing it next year. If we like the work, we won’t complain about doing it. It cultivates learning for us! (By the way, cultivate was a Word Masters word!) Our teacher rewards us for finding our words in books or using them in our writing, which will help us through school and through our lives! It makes it fun competing to find the words for the candy. That’s why we enjoy them so much!

            Now as you can see, WordMasters is obviously a spectacular idea but it’s your choice. If you don’t want your students to have a fabulous vocabulary then so be it. Oh, you can’t possibly forget about cultivating learning for your students! Now you can hopefully see that WordMasters is the smartest way to take your student’s education and that I strongly recommend it! Thank you for your time, sir.                      

                                    Sincerely,

                                    Two of Mrs. R’s LA students





 

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WordMasters Basics: How does the WordMasters Challenge™ work?

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At each grade level, the competition consists of three 20-minute analogy-solving meets, which are held at your school three times during the academic year (December, February and April).

Prior to each meet, students are given a list of 25 challenging vocabulary words, which are customized for each competition level that will appear in the meet analogies. Excellence in the competition will require both a mastery of the word meanings and thoughtful reasoning about the relationships between the word list vocabulary and more familiar language used in the competition’s analogies.

Try one for yourself from our sixth grade blue division:

GARB : REPAST :: ___________ : ___________

(a) WEAR : STIR

(b) CLOTHES : COOK

(c) EAT : WEAR

(d) THIN : FAT

(e) SEW : COOK

 

We hope you learned a new word, or maybe a new usage for a word you already knew, as you thought your way through the choices. If you're curious, option e was the correct answer.





 

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WordMasters Basics: What is the WordMasters Challenge™?

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Are you looking for a new way to help your students grow their vocabulary and verbal reasoning? Join over 150,000 students from some of the best public and private schools throughout the United States who participate in the WordMasters™ Challenge!

What is the WordMasters Challenge™ and what are the benefits?

WordMasters Challenge™ (n.) 1. A yearly, national competition for students in grades 3-8 that encourages growth in vocabulary and verbal reasoning through the use of analogies.

Unlike other language arts competitions for this age group—which focus on grammar, punctuation, spelling and other language mechanics—the WordMasters Challenge™ helps students learn to think both analytically and metaphorically. The contest addresses higher-level word comprehension and verbal reasoning in two ways:

  • It challenges students to complete analogies based on relationships among words they have learned.
  • It bases the analogies on special vocabulary lists, developed for each grade and difficulty level by experienced teachers, which participants study before each meet.

Traditional vocabulary learning : WordMasters Challenge™ :: Rote memorization : ___________

A. Verbal reasoning

B. Higher-level word comprehension

C. Improved reading comprehension

D. Improved verbal expression

E. Improved standardized test scores

F. All of the above!

The benefit? Research shows that developing higher order thinking skills impacts reading comprehension, verbal expression and performance on standardized tests!

To enroll your team for the 2013-14 school year, visit www.wordmasterschallenge.com.
 

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Love to Learn: Wonderopolis.com

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Who doesn’t need a little more wonder in their life?  A great website for children, parents and teachers, Wonderopolis.com stimulates curiosity and encourages learning by posting a Wonder of the Day. Every Wonder of the Day asks and answers a question on a specific topic such as “What is a butte?” or “Why do bees sting?”  Each wonder is accompanied by a gorgeous photograph or video.

While posts are self-contained nuggets of wisdom, there are opportunities to dig a little deeper. Within each wonder there are tabs that lead to related activities, outside links or vocabulary words (our personal favorite).  For those who need a wonder wherever they go, there is a handy Wonderopolis.com app here.

Wonderopolis.com is supported though the NCFL (National Center for Family Literacy), an organization dedicated to helping families learn and grow.

Do you have any online educational resources that you find useful for students or teachers? Please let us know!

 



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Exciting Upgrades to WordMasters Challenge and Website

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Welcome to WordMasters' new and improved website!  We are very excited about the changes we are introducing for the 2012-13 school year.  My name is Lisa Kennedy, and I am the new Executive Director for WordMasters’ elementary and middle school programs.  In this blog, I would like to point out some of the changes we have made to serve you better.

First and foremost, we are making it easier to enroll teams, receive Challenge materials, and submit your team’s Challenge results.  All of these tasks can be accomplished online beginning with enrollment for 2012-13 and continuing with word list distribution for Meet #1 in October.   (Please note:  Scores for Meet #3 of the current WordMasters Challenge 2011-12 cannot be submitted using our online form.  Please continue to send your scores by mail or fax.  See the Submit Challenge Scores page on our website for more details.)

Second, our online format eliminates the need to make copies of cumbersome legal-size documents.  All of the Word List and Challenge documents will be downloadable letter-size PDF documents.  You will receive an email several weeks before each Meet with directions for how to download the WordMasters materials you have purchased.  Simply download the appropriate files and make the number of copies you need for your team.  When you have completed scoring, return to our website and enter your top ten scores into the Results form.  It’s that easy!

Third, we have taken many of the ideas you have shared with us in the past and posted them in our Idea Gallery under the Resources tab of the website.  We hope to continue expanding this exchange of ideas (including photos and videos) over the coming months.  Please send us your stories and suggestions regarding the WordMasters Challenge, analogies, vocabulary, verbal reasoning, lesson plans, and any any other idea you might have!

We hope you like the new look and feel of the WordMasters Challenge, and we look forward to hearing your comments. 


 

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Suddenly there’s a love affair with words in my classroom!

– 6th grade teacher from Florida

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