Scaffolding & Explicit Practice Ideas

word nerds

Vocabulary graphic organizers can effectively scaffold a student’s deeper learning of word meanings.

Word Nerds (2013) for elementary level students and Vocabularians (2015) for middle grade learners offer great ideas for how to make vocabulary instruction explicit, engaging, and meaningful.

At the elementary level, routines like word prediction (p. 38), explicit instruction in synonyms and antonyms (p. 62-65), and vocabulary lanyards (p. 65) would teach students on the autism spectrum about word definitions and multiple meanings.

Vocabulary Board Games (p. 78) and Vocabulary Rings (p. 80) would grow the vocabulary of students due to the student’s ability to practice using the words in a structured manner, and to have consistent access to the words, respectively.

At the middle level, Concept Word Walls (p. 38), Fast Mapping Related Words (p. 39), Vocabulary mini-lessons (p. 42), and Word of the Day (p. 44) would teach words explicitly and provide strong reinforcement for learning new words systematically.

One seventh grade student with whom I have worked loves to engage in Intentional Word Play (p. 44). He actually sees himself as being funny when he changes the meanings of words or uses words that do not fit a situation, intentionally, to play with a word’s meaning. This is a sign that he understands that words have more than one meaning. While he usually gets friendly groans instead of laughs at his jokes, his manipulation of language shows that he is engaging with vocabulary in a memorable way.

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