I always strive to come up with unique activities for teaching academic vocabulary. When vocabulary instruction becomes redundant, students tend to check out. Practice worksheets, writing out definitions, and weekly quizzes will not keep students engaged and it definitely won't make them care about vocabulary. I learned early on in my teaching career that if I want my students to have a passion for words, I had to provided exciting and memorable learning opportunities. Recently I had an idea for another unique activity for teaching academic vocabulary while walking through an avairy at the local zoo...
As I was walking through the aviary at the zoo on Sunday the word “gregarious” caught my eye. Now “gregarious” is a word I love, as I remember it by thinking of the gregarious Greg Brady from The Brady Bunch… but in this case it was describing a chatty bird, rather than a chatty 70’s show icon.
I quickly snapped a photo of the exhibit placard to add to my “found vocabulary” collection and moved on, but later, I couldn’t stop thinking about what a great vocabulary activity writing museum signs could be.
So my inspiration for this week’s fun vocabulary activity comes from the last several months of “vocabulary spotting” at museums-whether it be the Missouri History Museum or the Aviary at the St. Louis Zoo.
Teaching Academic Vocabulary with Virtual Museum Tours in 5 Steps
Step 1: Explain to students that they will be creating a Virtual Vocabulary Museum based on their favorite things or hobbies. Before deciding what items will be on exhibit in their museum, have students check out a list of museums for ideas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_museums_in_the_United_States Students can be as creative as they want!
Step 2: Once students have brainstormed ideas, instruct them to choose four items they will display in their museum.
Step 3: Pass out a Virtual Vocabulary Museum worksheet to each student. Instruct students to fill in the first box at the top of the worksheet with a description of the overall history of their subject and what they hope visitors will get out of the exhibit, etc. Student must use at least 3 vocabulary words in their “Welcome to the Museum” description.
Step 4: Explain to students that they will be writing out placards for each item displayed in their exhibit, using at least 2 vocabulary words per placard. When writing the placard, the goal is to explain the significance of each item and its importance to the collection. Next to each placard on the Virtual Vocabulary Museum worksheet, students will draw or paste a picture of each item.
Not only does the writing of the placards involve vocabulary practice, but it is also a great writing project that can improve students’ writing skills in the informational and technical writing fields (see Writing Common Core Standard 2!)
Step 5: Hang up the Virtual Vocabulary Museum worksheets around the classroom and have students “tour” the various exhibits. Continue with the vocabulary fun and challenge students to leave comment cards (attached below) for 5 of the museums. Each comment card must contain at least 1 vocabulary word use in context.
This museum tour is hopefully another vocabulary resource in which students can learn to associate vocabulary words with the hobbies they love, and everyone gets a chance to learn more about each student! Teaching academic vocabulary can be fun AND educational!