Introducing . . . Vocabulary

Here’s a fun thing to try. Make a list of vocabulary words. New ones. Ask students to write short definitions – one-word definitions if possible. Assign each person one of the words and ask them to introduce it to the class by acting it out. After each student portrays the word, everyone else can guess at which word is being acted out.

I tried it last weekend during a vocabulary class with a list of challenging adjectives. Participants wrote one-word definitions for each word. Then class members introduced themselves while trying to portray themselves as the adjective they were assigned. While listening to the introductions, class members tried to guess each word. When we were finished with all the introductions, we reviewed the one-word definitions and our guesses. Some were very easy to guess; others were more difficult.

Here is the list of adjectives we used:

affable, capricious, diffident, disconsolate, ebullient, erudite, garrulous, incisive, insipid, jocular, languid, loquacious, mundane, munificent, officious, ostentatious, pedantic, perfidious, perfunctory, querulous, reticent, somnolent, sonorous, terse

Though we used the activity for introductions on the first day of class, this could also be used on the first day of a unit with new vocabulary. Maybe each student could talk or pantomime a word while others watch and guess. Or at the end of a unit, the same idea could be done for review. Perhaps one person acts out a new word every day. One of the Marzano vocabulary strategies is using games to practice words; this was a fun one to play.

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