Friday, January 13, 2012

Gifted and Talented Vocabulary Practice

[March 2013: After a year of research, I have settled on Saldlier-Oxfords' vocabularyworkshop.com to tackle this issue, and started my wee one on the Red Book.  My older child is on Green.  They love it.   We start Saturday mornings with a new unit, and then I post the word list on the fridge for the week.  I'm going to be posting about this a lot.]

[Feb 2015:  A few months after Jan 2013 I went back to Vocabulary Workshop.  The kids love it, and it teaches a variety of skills that are identical to taking the SAT.   I quickly learned that vocabulary was #1 for test prep.   What was I thinking in my last update?   I think I had low credibility during this R&D stage.  We've done Vocab ever since and it is a fixture in my Supplementary At Home Schooling Curriculum.  This has paid off in a big way, probably bigger than additional math, and provides a huge benefit in all school subjects.]

Introducing Vocabulary

I'm putting together a 12 month vocabulary course for my pre-pre K kid.   Each week, 20 vocabulary words and a test format including some preclassification questions, sentence completion, and analogies.  In this post, I'm going to explain why this is priority #1 for gifted and talented preparation.

First, why vocabulary as my primary focus?  A variety of reasons.
1.  From prior posts, I stumbled upon research that links high vocabulary to accelerated learning.  The more vocab words, the more tools and concepts a child has to use to explore his world.  This is why I use the term "gifted and talented preparation" above and not gifted and talented "test" preparation.
2.  I've read that girls tend to score higher than boys on these tests at an early age because girls pick up vocabulary faster in early stages of development than boys, and I have a boy.
3.  I noted in a prior post that test makers know that scores on vocabulary tests are highly correlated with scores on intelligence tests, and researchers think there is a feedback loop.  
4.  The recommendation for the WISC-IV for gifted and talented testing is only 6 subtests:  vocabulary, Similarities, Comprehension, Matrix Reasoning, Picture Concepts and Block Design.  ("Who are the Gifted Using the New WISC-IV?", Silverman, gilman, Falk.  I think you can read this on the Hogie's web site.)  It appears to me that improving vocabulary directly addresses the first 3, and indirectly addresses the next 2 subtests.
5.  "...the Verbal Knowledge subtest Vocabulary contributes half of the score to the Abbreviated Battery IQ (ABIQ)..." (Use of the SB5 in the Assessment of High Abilities, Ruf).   Some think that the SB5 ABIQ is used to test kids for entrance to Kindergarten GAT programs at the CPS.

The course I'm putting together is very simple.  Each week, I take 20 vocabulary words and create matrices, sentence completion, and pre-classification exercises.   I print this out and read the questions to my kindergartner.  My first grader gets to answer the questions after the little guy takes a shot.  The little guy gets some right, but many wrong, and I need to rephrase the analogies to help out.   So for example, I say "frog is to fly as squirrel is to ?" and he stares at me blankly.   Then I say "A frog eats flies, and a squirrel eats..."

I do this on Monday or Tuesday.  On Saturday, I use the test sheet to do this again, and during the week try to use some of the vocab.   Amazingly, he is picking up much of the vocab.  I think pictures with multiple choice answers like a real test would be easier for him, but I don't have time to create 7,000 pictures.  My goal is 1,000 words in 50 weeks, and for each word, a real test would have 3 pictures in a matrix and 4 pictures in the candidate answer set.

For vocabulary words, I've been trolling through lists of kindergarten, first grade, and second grade vocabulary and spelling lists, and tossing in some math and science concepts.  I try to pick words that are interesting in some way for critical thinking, classification, relationships, etc.   But bottom line, I'm working on that area of the brain that picks up and uses vocabulary, so I am assuming he'll begin to pick up words on his.  Choice of word is probably not critical.

1 comment:

  1. Note to readers. I've since abandoned this program. It has been superceded by a simple reading program. A friend of mine from work gave me an old copy of Hooked on Phonics for Kindergarten, and though skeptical, I gave it a try. With learning to read, and also being read to, my son's vocabulary has exploded. It has precluded any additional effort. I think I'll save the approach in this post for the SAT.

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