Self-Monitoring Strategies and Vocabulary Games
- Grades: 6–8, 9–12
- Unit Plan:
You will find a comprehensive list of self-monitoring strategies to model for your students, mini-lesson ideas for using context clues and strengthening word knowledge, and fun ideas for games and artwork your students can enjoy that will increase their overall vocabulary skills.
- Apply strategies learned in class to reading assignments.
- Increase knowledge of during-reading strategies to use when they encounter difficult passages or unfamiliar words.
- I use the following professional book to find vocabulary building ideas. It is beneficial for teachers of all grades. Teaching Reading in Middle School: A Strategic Approach to Teaching Reading That Improves Comprehension and Thinking
- Playing Cards (PDF) printable
- Crossword Grid (PDF)
- Overhead transparency and projector or Chart Paper
- Sample sentences from a textbook – fiction or nonfiction
- Colored pencils and markers
- 8 1/2 x 11 white drawing paper
- Blank index cards
Set Up and Prepare
- For the Memory Game: Prepare a list of the vocabulary words and their definitions.
Gather enough blank index cards per student, two cards for each vocabulary term.
Print (and copy) printable, if necessary.
- For Crossword Puzzle: Copy Crossword printable for each student.
Prepare a list of the vocabulary words and their definitions.
- Vocabulary Art: Prepare a list of the vocabulary words and their definitions.
Assign a word or more for each student to illustrate.
Provide a sheet of white drawing paper to each student for each illustrated word.
Self-Monitoring Strategies-Model these strategies aloud for your students with material that you are reading. Emphasize that all good readers use these strategies when they become "stuck" with a word or a passage.
- Tough Words - Select a word you didn't understand from any type of text you are free-reading. Write the word and passage on the board or chart paper and talk through the process you used to figure out its meaning. This is an example of a "think-aloud." Encourage your students to repeat the technique, but with their own process.
- Confusing Passages - Write the confusing passage on the chalkboard or chart paper. Show the students how you recognized that the passage was confusing. Continue to explain what strategies you used to understand the passage: reread it, study a diagram or picture, reread several paragraphs that came before the passage, transfer the topic to another book or text that you previously read.
- Pause to Recall and Reflect While Reading - Ask students if they have ever read a paragraph or a page from their book, got to the end, and did not remember or understand one thing they read? Tell the students to periodically stop while they read to let the material "sink in" and think about what they just read. Perhaps it brings up certain memories or reminds them of something they like or dislike. Tell students to pause and ask themselves whether or not they understand what they are reading. If not, reread slowly.
- Questions the Book Doesn't Answer - Share a book or article that raised many questions in your mind while reading. Bring up questions about the topic you noticed that the material did not answer. Talk about the fact that sometimes you went to look for an answer from another source or sometimes you did not pursue it. Share that this curiosity is a byproduct of truly understanding what you are reading.
Context Clues Mini-Lesson-Show students how to discover a word's meaning by exploring clues in the sentence, in sentences that come before or after the unknown word, and in pictures, diagrams, photographs, and charts. After teaching this mini-lesson a few times, you could have students work in pairs, helping one another use the context clues to understand difficult words.
Step 1: Choose several appropriate sample sentences or passages from a textbook that contain difficult words. Using a transparency or chart paper, print these sentences and cover them.
Step 2: Uncovering the sentences one at a time, read the sentence with the difficult word first. Model a think-aloud, sharing that you did not understand the meaning of the word so you will read the sentence that came before. Uncover and read that sentence.
Step 3: Continue the process with the other samples.
Step 4: Have students study the final sample on their own, writing their own think-aloud on paper.
Step 5: Ask students to share their think-alouds with the class.
Beyond Context Clues-Whether students need additional support using context clues or there are few clues in a difficult passage, teach your students to use these two strategies.
- Building Vocabulary - Preteach vocabulary words before reading the passage. Create a word web by inviting students to tell you what they know about a word. Write student responses on a large sheet of chart paper. Return to the word web to make any additions after reading the text.
- Word Parts - Model a think-aloud using prefixes, suffixes, and roots. Show how understanding the word parts can help students figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words.
A New and Improved Dictionary Method - Instead of assigning a list of words to define and risking that students do not find the correct definition intended for the word in their text, invite students to take note of words and page numbers in their text they do not understand. Invite them to work in groups or pairs to discover the correct definition for the word in context. Model a think-aloud to show the process of narrowing multiple definitions to one or two that would work.
Step 1: Provide students with a copy of the vocabulary words, their definitions, and blank index cards.
Step 2: Instruct the students to write the definition of each word on a separate card and the vocabulary word on a separate card. Have the students repeat the process until they have all the vocabulary words and their definitions written on the cards. If you wish, you could have students decorate the back of their cards, instructing them to stick to one pattern for all their cards.
Step 3: In pairs, allow the students to play the Memory Game. They must read each word and definition they pick up. The object of the game is to match up the vocabulary words with their definitions. By doing so, the students will be reading and repeating several words and definitions, helping them to learn the meaning of each word.
Step 1: Provide each student with the Crossword printable. Instruct them to do the following:
- Fill in the words from their vocabulary list using the crossword method, making sure that the words interlock
- Number each box that contains a word
- Black out the boxes that are not being used
- Trade their grid with a partner to make sure all vocabulary words are spelled correctly
Step 2: Using the definitions, model for the students a creative way to write the crossword clues. Encourage them not to simply write the definition. Also, show them how to write correct directions for the location of each word on the crossword puzzle.
Step 3: Allow students to write their clues and answers on a separate sheet of paper.
Step 4: Evaluate each Crossword Puzzle and choose one to use as a vocabulary quiz. You may choose more for students to complete for extra credit.
Use this cross-curricular idea for any vocabulary words you are teaching.
Step 1: Share the vocabulary terms and their definitions with the students. Choose one of the words and model a think-aloud about how you read the definition of the word and decided on a picture or a way to illustrate the meaning of that word. Draw your picture on the board or chart paper, using a variety of color.
Step 2: Assign each student one or more vocabulary words to define, making sure all vocabulary words are represented. Remind them to write the vocabulary term underneath the picture. Give the students drawing paper, markers and colored pencils. Allow time for them to complete each picture.
Step 3: Have the students present their drawings to the class. Ask volunteers to share how the illustrations will help them remember the meaning of the word. You may want to post these illustrations for further reference.
Supporting All Learners
The self-monitoring tips are beneficial to all learners at the secondary level. Reinforce these strategies while working one-on-one with students who need extra help.
Students can also create a word search with their vocabulary terms.
Have the students ask their parents to solve their Crossword Puzzle or to play the Memory Game with them. They can also interview their parents, asking them about their own during-reading strategies they use.
- How can I use think-alouds for modeling in my other lessons?
- How often am I observing my students’ during-reading behavior?
Note how the students are using the strategies during individual reading conferences and during paired reading. Do the same while reading the selected text with the class and ask the students about what they are reading.
Written Outcome: Give the Crossword Puzzle you chose as a quiz.