The new school term is here! Teachers are once again donning their teaching caps. We’re starting to think about what new ideas and strategies we can bring to our schools and classrooms. And if a vocabulary curriculum is one of the ideas topping your agenda, then you’re on the right track (and if it isn’t, there are a lot of reasons it really should be). Understandably, however, building a new curriculum from scratch might seem like quite an overwhelming task. So, to help you get the ball rolling, here is a back-to-school vocabulary checklist, made up of key questions you should be asking yourself about how you and your school are teaching vocabulary.
It’s coming home - but what does it mean?
Now I don’t know about you, but when I’m sitting in my living room to catch the mid-match half-time chit-chat as part of my weekly World Cup fix (can you tell I’m not a big football fan?), I often find myself at a complete loss as to what it is they’re actually talking about. Harry Kane spent that first half keeping ‘deep’, that premeditated foul should have been ‘carded’, free kick this, offside that... and can someone please tell me what on Earth a 'lob' is?
Ofsted. One of the many abbreviations that can shock a teacher with a sudden jolt of anxiety. Other contenders include GCSEs for secondary school teachers, and SATs for our primary friends out there. In recent years, the sense of pressure that comes along with each of these words revolves around the same thing: Ofsted’s accountability framework, which has been weighted heavily towards exam results, performance tables, and inspections. In 2019, however, this framework has undergone some pretty significant changes and one thing now takes centre stage: the curriculum.
Back in December 2017, Oxford University Press conducted an online survey with teachers from the around UK. The aim of the research was to explore the nature of the ‘word gap’ that exists for primary and secondary school students. Over the course of a month, the survey received over 1,300 completed responses from 840 secondary school teachers and 473 primary school teachers. The research culminated in a report titled ‘Why Closing the Word Gap Matters: Oxford Language Report’, which has just been released. You can read the report in full here. But for those of you who have 31 mock language papers to mark, we’ve comprised a list of our five key takeaways on ‘Why Closing the Word Gap Matters.’
Editor's notes: Today we're very excited to introduce our first guest blog post by Helen Sharpe, who will be discussing how she used a vocabulary curriculum to improve her students' understanding of Macbeth. To read more about about Helen's teaching experiences, visit her blog here, or follow her on Twitter @hdsharpe. And if you'd be interested in having your own work published on the Bedrock blog, don't hesitate to contact us.
Topics: Vocabulary Curriculum
Building a vocabulary curriculum isn’t as basic as it sounds. It’s easy to forget how mind-boggling new words can be. For the most part, the words that form our individual lexicons are so strongly embedded in us, we can use and understand them without really having to think. When we hear a word we know, we instinctively relate it to an object or concept we’ve experienced in the world. But we weren’t born with this skill. We didn’t always connect ‘happiness’ with the emotion we feel when we’re in a good mood. We had to learn to make that connection. Without learning that connection, ‘happiness’ would still be a strange sound and a row of letters. That’s why it’s so tough being a teacher of vocabulary. It’s our job to transform gobbledegook into something with a clear and specific meaning.