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Vocabulary Notebooks


Are you familiar with Vocabulary Notebooks? They are a very simple concept, and one that many students stumble independently. Because in the most rudimentary form a Vocabulary Notebook is just some vocabulary words written down in a notebook. But there are teachers who are really taking "VN's" to another level, and discovering ways to integrate this intuitive way of learning into the classroom. This is because Vocabulary Notebooks promote independent learning, and are a great way to easily show progress and development.

Essentially, a binder, clear file, or notebook filled with sheets that have been filled out by students to contain information on vocabulary words. With an area for the word itself, and any combination of synonyms, antonyms, definitions, translation equivalents, and an example of the word in a sentence. Usually this is shown in a spreadsheet format, where students are asked to write down words they don't know or are interested in when that word appears in their studies. For High School students it might be a word from their reading assignments, but for an Elementary School student it might be a way to help drill vocabulary, or keep a student from falling behind. They make a record of the word in their "VN" (ooh yeah, feeling cool with the acronymns) to keep in their collection. Studies have shown isolating the word like this is a big step in acquiring it, because of the special attention given.

These VN spreadsheets don't need to be dull either. Get creative by having a space for a drawing, real-life context, mnemonics, or a relationship diagrams to other words. The VN spreadsheet itself could be re-imagined completely as a diagram instead with the special word in the center, with definitions, antonyms, and examples sprouting out all around it.

Despite the intuitive nature of VN's, it can be difficult to keep students motivated to write them. If you decide to integrate them into your class, it is important to keep organized, and have meaningful integration so that your students care about them, and they are easy to use. VN's could be part of the evaluation process, either counting for extra-credit, or counting towards the final grade, or even directly related to a test or quiz. If you can help your students understand the direct connection to success in your class and quality their VN, you will be preparing them with a helpful study tool they can use for the rest of their lives. 

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