I began using the “Before-and-After Vocabulary” strategy last year, and my kids really enjoy it. This activity is so great because it serves two purposes:
1. It helps to activate kids background knowledge before reading a text, starting a new unit, etc. I’m always looking for better ways to discuss kids’ schema than just saying “What do you know about…?”
2. It’s actually a great informal pre-assessment to determine what the kids already know about the words AND the content they’ll be reading about. It’s so interesting to see what kind of connections the kids make when they see a new word for the first time. (Extra bonus: Are they using their knowledge about root words, prefixes and suffixes?)
Simply present this chart before reading, and ask kids to write what they think the word means in the first column. At the end of the unit or text study, return the form and have them write a definition for the word now that they have read/written/used the word many times. Finally, in the last column they will explain how their understanding has grown and developed since day 1. This is especially great for kids who "already know" what a word means. After studying a word for an extended period of time, their understanding of the word MUST have developed, and they will need to prove just exactly how much they've learned!