Does this statistic frighten anyone else? How in the world are we supposed to bridge that gap? We have students coming into our classroom with all different backgrounds, yet we are supposed to grow them all academically one year. Seem like a daunting task? IT IS!
What do you do to help close this gap? Of course we all read aloud to our students, but what else can we do?
Vocabulary is the key! The more words we know, the better we understand the world around us.
I was fortunate enough to stumble across a really cool program called Big Word Club last fall. I immediately signed up because I am always on the hunt for new and better ways to teach my firsties.
What is Big Word Club? I’m so glad you asked! Big Word Club (now being referenced in this post as BWC) is an awesome online explicit vocabulary instruction. The program is divided into different grade level bands, so it meets the needs of your students! Each week there is a new digital book that is read aloud, a song to go with the book, and dance along version of the song. There are daily videos that explicitly teach a vocabulary word that is found in the weekly book.
The books cover some really cool topics! Our favorite books were any that dealt with dinosaurs, the rain forest, and the Galapagos Islands! I loved how we could experience different places just sitting on our classroom rug. Our conversations that sprung from these videos were much more rich than our normal talks. Seriously – having my students using the word symbiotic correctly blew my mind!
One of the reasons I love this program is because it helps not only our vocabulary grow, but also our schema. I would have NEVER thought about teaching my students about the Galapagos Islands, but we certainly did have fun looking up more information and imaging a field trip there!
Another reason my firsties and I love BWC is the fact that it is multimodal – you listen, see the video with context, see how it is spelled, dance along, and discuss it as a class. You reach all kids by hitting all of these areas. I may or may not have dance along sometimes.
It is very easy to use, too! I would pull up the website on my interactive board while my students were doing student-led calendar time. I had the link bookmarked in my browser, so I could easily click on the link and find the week and day we were ready for. We would watch the day’s videos and then take turns going around the room using our new word.
This past spring we went through BWC’s content one week at a time, starting at week one, then moving to week two, etc. Now that I know the different themes, I may go “out of order” and do some weeks when they better line up with my curriculum. Either way works, I just think I can extend the learning a little better if I do it this way. Do you already do a rainforest or dinosaur unit? These videos will fit right along with your current content!
Have you used Big Word Club? Comment below - I want to hear about your experience with it!