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High School — Reading
Acquisition of Vocabulary

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    Acquisition of Vocabulary

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      Activities: Additional Instruction and Practice

      These activities may be useful for students who require additional instruction and practice with Acquisition of Vocabulary

      Word of the Week

      Students frequently fail to master new vocabulary because they rarely use the new words beyond the class assignment. This activity offers an opportunity for students to practice defining and using new vocabulary words. In addition to unit vocabulary, ask students to contribute words for "word of the week." There are also "word-a-day" Web sites that will send you a new word daily.

      On the board or overhead projector, post the "word of the week." Ask students to use the dictionary to define the word, including its root, and any suffixes or prefixes. Determine its part of speech, indicate and define any homophones, and write one sentence using the word in context. Throughout the week, have students keep track of when, where and how they hear or see the word being used. Award points or reward students who use the word appropriately in class discussions and in their writing.

      Autobiographical Allusions

      To make students more comfortable with allusions, ask them to write autobiographical narratives in which they describe an object or event using allusions. For example a student athlete may allude to herself as Athena, goddess of war, when describing her team's victory. Another student may reference Apollo and his chariot when describing the sunny weather on a camping trip.

      Literary allusions, when an author references the work of an influential writer, are common in Western literature. Shakespeare's works are perhaps the most referenced by other authors. For an added challenge, ask students to create their own literary allusion for their personal narratives. For example, a student feeling betrayed by a friend may refer to Napoleon in Animal Farm.

      Connotation Illustrations

      Dictionaries give the denotation of a word--the literal definition. The context in which the word appears often provides the connotation--the association that the word creates. During this activity, students will identify a word's denotation and its various connotations. As a class, ask students to define a word. Then provide them with different situations in which the word is used with different connotations.

      For example, ask students to consider the word "heavy." The literal definition is "weighty." It can have positive connotations, as when describing the weight of a piece of jewelry or the warmth of a coat. Used to describe someone's body type or the intensity of news, it can have negative connotations. Have students find examples of words that have both negative and positive connotations. Ask them to define the word on a piece of paper. On the other side of the paper, ask them to illustrate examples of positive and negative connotations of the word.

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