10-Minute Vocabulary Builders for All Students
Reviewed by Anne Anderson
Have you heard it said that “big things come in small packages”? After reading Marilee Sprenger’s Vocab Rehab: How do I teach vocabulary effectively with limited time? I stand by that old adage. This may be a small book, but it is filled with easy-to-implement vocabulary strategies. I only wish that it was priced a little lower; teachers may hesitate to spend $12.99 for a 40-page book.
Sprenger’s style is easy to follow. At times, I felt like she was talking directly to me. (Yes, I was guilty of some of those “bad” vocabulary lessons in my classroom.) I also was relieved to see that some of her suggested activities are in my vocabulary toolbox.
Readers receive a quick review of vocabulary development and related vocabulary research. Sprenger challenges teachers “to recondition their approach to teaching vocabulary.” (p12) She’s based her approach, Vocab Rehab, on brain and memory research and the work done by the National Reading Panel. These 10-minute lessons are sure to engage students and increase vocabulary acquisition and retention.
Sprenger has included a vocabulary strategy that elementary teachers might use to reinforce vocabulary. With the strategy “What’s a Lanyard?” students wear different words attached to a lanyard. Some wear vocabulary words, others wear synonyms. Then, when it is time to line up for lunch or recess, the teacher gives clues or asks questions about the words. As students respond, they get in line. A management strategy and an instructional strategy all in one!
Middle and high school teachers will want to make use of the “Just in Times” strategy. By going to the online version of newspapers like the LA Times, the New York Times, or the Washington Post, students search for an assigned vocabulary word. I tried it with the word “acquisition;” several headlines appeared and I spent a few minutes reading about business acquisitions as well as sports teams’ acquisitions. Here’s an opportunity to build both word knowledge and world knowledge.
Vocab Rehab: How do I teach vocabulary effectively with limited time? is an excellent resource promoting vocabulary instruction, especially for teachers who are acutely aware of the clock. The strategies and activities are broad enough for all teachers, no matter the grade or content.
Anne Anderson finally got out of the 8th grade after 24 years and 9 weeks. She spent the next 9 years sharing her expertise in literacy and writing with K-12 teachers and administrators throughout the district. She credits National Writing Project and Poetry Alive! as turning points in her growth as a teacher. She now shares her expertise nationwide as an educational consultant and through her website and her bi-monthly newsletter, Spotlight on Success.