Wednesday, September 29, 2021

ELL Vocabulary Strategy: Concept Check

This is a simple, no-prep strategy that is super easy to implement with your ELLs. It works as a pre-assessment for new vocabulary, or as a review for vocabulary that's already been introduced, or as an exit ticket. This strategy works well in person and is easily adapted for the virtual or hybrid environment.

This activity allows the student to assess their own knowledge of the vocabulary, helping them to identify key words that they don't know or don't understand fully. Such self-assessment at the beginning helps students know which words they need extra practice with so they know where to focus attention during the lesson. Assessing again after allows students to see and recognize their own growth. The added bonus of this strategy is that it provides valuable pre- and post- assessment information to the teacher as well.

How to use it
  • Identify 4-5 key words that will be central to the lesson, week, topic, etc. 
  • List the words for students on paper, a slide, etc. 
  • Have students rate their understanding of the word prior to the lesson. 
  • Have students take time again at the end of the lesson to re-rate themselves on each word. 
  • Allow students who rate themselves at the top a chance to explain the meaning of the word to the class.
Encourage students to be honest in their ratings. Explain that identifying the words they don't know will help them know what to focus on during the lesson, and rating themselves after helps them to see growth and set goals for improvement.

Digital Adaptations:

  • Use a tool like Peardeck or Nearpod for students to rate themselves using one of the interactive elements
  • Have students show thumbs up, thumbs middle or thumbs down 
  • Have students write a 1 (I don't know this word), 2 (I kinda know this word), or 3 (I know and can explain this word) in the chat

One of the schools I worked with last year implemented this strategy school-wide and across grade levels and found great success. It really helped them and their students to pay more attention to key vocabulary in their lessons and units and provided opportunities for quick informal assessment. 

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