Wednesday, March 1, 2006

March 2006: Sarah Kurachek, Vocabulary Sculptor


 March 2006 America Learns Strategy of the Month   

Meet Sarah Kurachek, City of Lakes AmeriCorps member and author of the March 2006 National Strategy of the Month.

Sarah Kurachek and two of her students Sarah joined City of Lakes AmeriCorps after graduating from Duke University in 2004.  She tutors and mentors 15 students in small group and on-on-one settings at Minneapolis North High School.  Sarah decided to serve a second year with AmeriCorps to continue building upon the meaningful relationships she and her students have formed.

We're sure you're going to love her strategy -- an engaging vocabulary development exercise for students in elementary, middle and high school.

The Strategy


Created by: Sarah Kurachek, City of Lakes AmeriCorps
(America Learns Network member since 2004)
Topic: Vocabulary Development
Grade Levels: Third - Twelfth
Arrangements: Two or more students
Materials: - Dictionary
- Pen/pencil
- Paper

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Situation: I work with a group of three 10th grade English students.  Each week, we learn 10 new vocabulary words.  This activity helped them learn new words AND have fun with each other!  This is also a great activity for kinesthetic learners.
Step 1: First, we used a dictionary to look up the definitions of each word.  Students wrote the definitions in their notebooks and came up with sentences for each word.
Step 2: I asked my students about sculptures.  We discussed that sculptures convey a message, are usually completely solid, and do not often have moving parts.

I told my students that I wanted them to become "human sculptures" of a word.  I provided an example of what a human sculpture of one of their words might look like (e.g., if the word was "scold", I might look angry and point to another student while the student hid her head in her hands).

Step 3: I left the students to themselves for about a minute as they chose ONE word to define.  I went to the other side of the room so as not to hear their deliberations.
Step 4: I came back when they said they were ready.  They formed their "human sculpture" of one of their vocabulary words, I guessed the word, and they laughed throughout the process!  They repeated the exercise and said it was a lot of fun.
Additional Resource for America Learns Network Members: For step-by-step instructions on a similar activity that combines reading comprehension and vocabulary, click here

How Have You Addressed this Issue?

Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Sarah below.

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