Word Wednesdays are weekly student presentations where the student researches a word to teach to the class.
Includes the following documents:
- Directions & sample handout
- Separate rubric (PDF) for easy printing and use
- Sign-up sheet (customizable .docx file)
- Word list of over 200 recommended words
- Structured notes for students who have trouble with note-taking
This is one of my favorite assignments that I have used consistently for over 2 years! I teach 8th grade Reading/Language Arts, but this assignment could be easily be adapted for 5th - 12th!
Students sign up for words at the beginning of the semester-- I provide the dates and the words for each week, and they write the name next to the word of their choosing. (I do not allow them to sign up for more than one per week if assigning more than 1 word per quarter.)
The first week, I model what the handout should look like and how to teach the word, as well as what information students should write down in their notes (Definitions, other forms and parts of speech, the origin, and a sentence or example). Then I pass out the instructions and the sign-up sheet. I keep the master sign-up sheet and students write down when they will be presenting.
When the students are ready to present, they bring their handout up to the document camera and I ask them to teach us about their word! Some students need prompting with when to go on to the next part of their presentation, but many learn to pace themselves with how quickly the class writes the notes down.
This is a wonderful way to teach vocabulary in depth with a range of definitions, an opportunity to talk about the nuances of words and changing the parts of speech changes the meaning, and it gives students some regular practice with researching information and presenting in front of class in a low-pressure way. Best of all... It is an EASY day for me! (And we all need one of those during the week!) I just print off the rubrics, record their grade, and give them their immediate feedback!
In addition to student Word Wednesday presentations, I often do a related vocabulary mini-lesson, such as commonly confused words or root words/prefixes.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What words do you choose?
I started finding words from the list "100 Words Every Middle Schooler Should Know" and SAT word lists. I also select words that may appear frequently in young adult literature that they may not know, OR words that have multiple meanings across the subject areas. A few of my favorite words to include on the list are:
concoction, kindle, reciprocal, egregious, deft, jabber, exasperate, conspicuous, apprehensive, pertinent, sabotage
How many words do you assign? How many words for a certain week?
I've been most successful when assigning 1 word per student, per quarter. If I have an advanced class, I will generally use the same words from the regular classes, mixed in with higher-level words.
For classes of 18-25 students, it usually is about 2-3 words per week.
How long do the presentations take?
I usually allow for about a half hour (I have a 90 minute block) but depending on the day and if people were absent, it can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes.
Do the students write or type the handouts?
I don't require them to be typed, but if it is handwritten the highest I score them for "handout quality" is a 2 instead of a 3. If it is really sloppy (handwritten OR typed!) they get a 1 for quality.
What do you do if someone is absent/forgot their presentation?
I will bump that person to the following week and deduct points from their score. Sometimes I will ask if anyone is ready to present earlier to make up for it.
What if there is an error on the handout?
Without embarrassing the student, I use it as a teachable moment. We talk about other forms of the words, how to use it properly in the sentence, etc. Often other students correct the presenter, too!
How do you integrate the vocabulary words into your other instruction?
I have 3 classes that use the same words, so I will post the "exemplar" handout on a bulletin board-- it's the EASIEST "Word Wall" EVER!!!
If I have additional time when presentations are finished, I will assign a handful of words for students to practice using in sentences, but I also have a specific part of speech for them to use. For example, one week I might assign the word "exasperate" as a verb, and the following week assign them "exasperation" as a noun. It helps them recognize the appropriate parts of speech to use.
This year, I've also started a bulletin board for a "Vocabulary Word Search" and have students write down quote from books that use these vocabulary words. It just helps to heighten their awareness of vocabulary used around them.
How do you test these vocab words?
Aside from written practice, these words appear on their final exams.
For intensive classes that need guided notes (or students who require accommodations) use the included Structured Vocabulary Notes--that works very well for those students. Simply make copies so it's double-sided, and distribute as needed.
Want more great ideas & resources?
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key terms: vocabulary, vocab, middle or high school, creative projects and presentations, unique vocabulary activity