3c.EX2: Gold Star Words 2017-07-28T11:40:01+00:00

EX2: Gold Star Words

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3c. Engaging students in learning
This is a fun, fast way to teach complex vocabulary words.

Educator:  Janine Todd [Email Janine]
School:  Delta Elementary School, Delta Junction

Appropriate for Grade Levels: K–8 
Content area(s): Language Arts – Vocabulary Acquisition

How does this lesson or technique improve student learning?

Throughout the course of a year, students have the opportunity to grow their vocabulary by 180 +/- words. I use the book, A Word A Day, by Evan Moor.

What does it look like in my classroom?

Timeline (i.e. 2 class periods):
15-20 minutes three times/week–daily would be ideal!

There is a 20-minute window three days each week between music/PE and lunch. We call that our “Gold Star Word” time! The students use a spiral notebook to record the date, the Gold Star word, and the part of speech. We then discuss examples and non-examples of the word to deepen their comprehension. Everyone then uses the word (even me) in a sentence and draws a simple graphic that shows the meaning of the word. ALL students share their sentences while others listen. We often help make needed corrections as a learning community. Our words hang on posters for the remainder of the year. At year’s end, students take home the completed posters. (See attached pictures)

Students are then challenged to use our words throughout our daily routines. When a word is used, we all shout, “Gold Star!” and then go about our business. Students also yell out at home and we even yelled “Gold Star” at an assembly when our principal used the word–rambunctious! It’s one of my FAVORITE parts of the day!

The key to this activity (why it works so well for this component):

This works well in my class because it is straightforward and easy to follow. The essay is more about the logic and support, and less about the topic. In fact, simpler topics help students stay focused and not get lost in complications.

Supporting materials

Artifacts to gather for evaluation

15-20 minutes three times/week–daily would be ideal!

The Danielson Connection

The daily “Gold Star” word is often a word that is not only challenging for the students to read and understand, but also to use correctly in conversation and/or writing. Students are required to reflect on the word, and then they apply the word to a personal life situation. The students’ ability, or inability, to use the word correctly often gives opportunity for differentiated instruction and requires the students to persevere.