Using Words in Context: A Vocabulary Game for High School English

Using Words in Context: A Vocabulary Game for High School English
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The More You Use Vocabulary the More Proficient Your Students Will Be

As an English teacher, you are always presenting new lists of vocabulary words.You want your students to learn the definitions of these words, but you also want them to be able to use the words in context.

This activity allows all of the students to be involved and to move around the room as they work in groups to form sentences using the target vocabulary. The activity can be a simple review or a game that is played on a regular basis.

For this game, you can make it competitive. Rows can become teams. The teams can create unique names. You can keep track of how many setences each row gets right on the first try for a whole grading period, and the row that wins can receive some type of prize, such as candy, extra credit points, a homework pass, etc. Or, it can be for bragging rights.

Preparation of Cards for Activity

Step 1: Select vocabulary words for the activity. These can come from previous vocabulary lists as a large review or from the current list that students are learning.

Step 2: Before the students come to your class, write out ten sentences that include at least one vocabulary word each for each row in your classroom.You can get these sentences from the passages, or you can make them up yourself.

For example, ten poetry technique terms are as follows:

  1. similes
  2. metaphor
  3. alliteration
  4. consonance
  5. assonance
  6. hyperbole
  7. rhythm
  8. rhyme
  9. onomatopoeia
  10. repetition

An exa


mple sentence could be as follows: The author used repetition in the poem for empahsis.

Step 3: Cut about fifty or more index cards in half.Write each sentence on a set of index cards.Each card will have only one word written on it.Put a paper clip or a rubber band around the cards that form a particular sentence.

When you finish, you will have ten stacks of index cards.Each stack will include an entire sentence with the words written on individual index cards.If you want to make this exercise more difficult, include some words that do not go with the sentence.

Review Vocabulary Words

Step 4: When the students arrive in the classroom, go over the vocabulary words.Check that the class understands their meanings. You may need to go over the definitions again. In addition, you cangive some examples on the board.

Explain Game Rules

Step 5: Explain to the class that each row of desks will be receiving a stack of index cards, which contain words that will form a sentence.The words are out of order so the challenge is to put them in order.Each student in that row will receive one card.If there are more cards than there are students in a particular row, some students can get more then one card.

Step 6: Tell the class that when you call on their row they must come to the front of the room and, as a group, figure out what the order of the words must be to form the sentence.Only one row will go at a time.

Note: The students who are not at the front of the room are to watch, but not help.If the group currently working on their sentence is really struggling, you can decide to let the rest of the class help.Students must hold onto their card.If their word needs to move in the sentence, the student moves with it.He or she is to hold it up so that the rest of the group and the rest of the class can see it.So, upon your command a row of students will be out of their seats moving around and discussing what the order of their sentence should be.

Step 7: Let each row come to the front of the room at least once.Students will be motivated to think about the vocabulary words and their position in the sentence.Everyone will be alert for this activity since each student knows that he will eventually be participating.

Keep order in the class, but let the students have fun with this game. When students work with words together, it can become somewhat noisy. However, this should be productive noise, not chaos. In addition, it can be an activity that students look forward to doing.