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My "Vocabulary Warriors" show off their skills! Please enjoy these student samples...truly.

Now finishing its fourth year as a weekly routine in my classroom, my Vocabulary Collecting/Writing Expectations have definitely blossomed into one of the BEST original strategies I've ever designed to complement my own reading/writing curriculum.  It's also Common Core-friendly, so--take that, Common Core!  Last June, Dena and I finally felt confident the ideas we'd been developing for vocabulary instruction were rock-solid enough to sell them as a "new product" at our website, and so many of you trusted us enough (based on using our other products, we assume) to purchase that now-one-year-old vocabulary package.  THANK YOU!  There will be several  vocabulary updates sent out to all who have already purchased in the next month or two--at no cost, of course. We added some new mini-lessons and binder-friendly resources this year that helped a lot, and we want to share those  with you so you can share them with next year's students.

In case you've forgotten, I teach 6th-8th grade students, but I firmly believe this weekly vocabulary routine I've created could be easily incorporated into 3rd-12th grade classrooms; the vocabulary words students "collect" simply need to get more challenging as the years progress.  All three of my grade levels this June had a two-part final, both parts designed to show off what new skills of writing my students had developed over the year: Part 1) an in-class essay based on a sophisticated novel we read as a class; and Part 2) a take-home vocabulary final that celebrated words from the sophisticated novel mentioned earlier.  With the take-home portion--for the second year in a row now--I ran a two-part competitive contest between all of my classes.  

  1. Each class had an "Over-all Vocabulary Collector" prize, which was based on earning a perfect score and having the most cleverly-presented collection.  I have six different classes of students, so I awarded six of these prizes.
  2. Out of all 170 of my students who turned in a take-home vocabulary final, I awarded a "Vocabulary Warrior" patch to the one student who created the cleverest piece of writing to go along with any of the ten vocabulary & writing tasks my students may choose from.  We started with eight, but I have ten different vocabulary/writing tasks available now, so I awarded ten of these awards this year--one for each of the tasks.

Who won "Over-all Vocabulary Collector" Prizes?  I will follow this blog post with a post showing off my six "Over-all Vocabulary Collector" winners' work.  The kids were amazing this year in trying to win this one.  It was very difficult to choose just one winner from each class.  I might have to have two awards per class next year.

Who won the "Vocabulary Warrior" patches?  I am attaching a PowerPoint that shows off the ten "Vocabulary Warrior" winners' vocabulary/writing tasks. The students nominated their favorite in each category, I photographed all those that were nominated more than four times, and Mrs. Harrison ultimately chose her favorites:

I had sixteen very happy students during our last week of school (which was last week!  Hooray!) because they had earned a coveted "Vocabulary Warrior" patch, which could be glued in their writer's notebooks, attached to their classroom binder, or simply stuck to to their own foreheads with duct tape.  All three of those scenarios actually happened!  There was no extra credit for winning a patch--just a patch and "bragging rights."  My vocabulary warrior patches, by the way, are just Boy Scout patrol patches that my student aides attached some fancy ribbon too with hot glue.  It's always amazing to me to see how hard kids will work for a $2.00 patch, and spending $32.00 to have some amazing exemplars to show next year's new students...it's totally worth it.

The price for our full set of Vocabulary Collecting Lessons and Materials (currently $17.50 at our website) will be increasing to an even $20.00 in August.  If this post (and perhaps my student samples) interest you in trying something new with vocabulary next year, be sure to order before the end of July.  When you purchase ANYTHING from our website, you are automatically sent any and all updates of the products when and if they are created...just so you know.

Keep scrolling down after this post so you can see photos of my students who were awarded the "Overall Best Vocabulary Collection" awards last week.

Thanks for being interested in my students' awesome work; they love knowing they have an audience who looks at their stuff when they win anything.

Yours in teaching!

--Corbett & Dena Harrison (http://corbettharrison.com)

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Comment by Corbett Harrison on June 15, 2014 at 3:05pm

8th grader Alejandra completely wowed us with this set of eight final vocabulary words that came from her World War choice-novel, I Have Lived 1000 Years by Livia Bitton Jackson.  She was almost the unanimous choice for "Overall Vocabulary Collector" from her class when we tallied the votes from her peers.  Thanks, Alejandra, for being so meticulous with your amazing projects.  I will miss you next year.  Click on the images to be able to zoom in on the details.

 

Comment by Corbett Harrison on June 15, 2014 at 3:02pm

7th grader--Dawson--earned an Honorable Mention for his overall final vocabulary presentation for doing some crazy paper folding and submitting it as an octagon that could become a "throwing star" if you adjust it carefully.  The words all came from Steinbeck's The Red Pony.  I don't know where my kids learn to fold amazing origami-like projects like this, but what these kids can do with paper-folding (and no tape!!!!) simply amazes me.  Click images to zoom in to see details.

Comment by Corbett Harrison on June 15, 2014 at 2:48pm

Seventh grader--Gino--submitted this 9-panel layout as his final vocabulary collection, and his classmates voted him "Best Overall Collector" from his class.  All of Gino's words came from Steinbeck's The Pearl.  Thanks, Gino, for always adding your artistic flair to your projects.  Click on the image to be able to zoom in on its details.

Comment by Corbett Harrison on June 15, 2014 at 2:29pm

7th grader Scott won "Overall Collector" from his class for his very clever Old LP Album concept.  His words all came from John Steinbeck's The Red Pony, and he chose to make an 8-song playlist, each song containing one of his vocabulary words.  I didn't photograph every album/activity, but when you removed the record and unfolded it, you had eight LP-shaped records, each with a different vocabulary activity on it.  If you click on the images, you can zoom in and see the details.  

Thanks, Scott, for this difficult-to-photograph-and-display but totally cool to look at when it was live in the classroom on vocabulary presentation day!  You are an amazing vocabulary collector.

    

Comment by Corbett Harrison on June 15, 2014 at 2:08pm

OK, so Jaysen (8th grade) didn't win as Overall Collector for his class, but this was totally an "Honorable Mention."  Jaysen has become obsessed with the now-in-syndication TV show "Scrubs," and he decided all eight of his activities for his words from John Knowles' A Separate Peace would put the words in the context of his favorite show and its characters.  I used to watch this show when it was in prime-time, and he is spot-on in using Knowles' words in the Scrubs-context.  Enjoy!

Click the images to be able to zoom in on Jaysen's details.

 

Comment by Corbett Harrison on June 15, 2014 at 1:57pm

6th grader--Adian--was determined to outshine his classmates with his layout skills.  This was pretty impressive.  Aidan's words came from Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, which was the whole-class memoir/travelogue we ended our year with.  Aidan was particularly proud of the "hidden Mr. Stick" he used to divide his activities on the left-hand side of the layout.  Do you see it?  You can click on the image to be able to zoom in and see details.  Thanks, Aidan, for this amazing final collection of words from your sixth grade year!

Comment by Corbett Harrison on June 15, 2014 at 1:53pm

You always have that one truly artistic kid, right?  Here is part 1 of eighth grader Emily's amazing two-page collection of words she found in Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.  If you click on the image, you can load the image better so that you can zoom in on the amazing details.

Comment by Corbett Harrison on June 15, 2014 at 1:53pm

You always have that one truly artistic kid, right?  Here is part 2 of eighth grader Emily's amazing two-page collection of words she found in Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.  If you click on the image, you can load the image better so that you can zoom in on the amazing details.

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