Word Consciousness Chapter 13

By Ellie Peterson
“Student who have developed word consciousness use
words skillfully; they appreciate the subtleties of word
meaning. More than that, word-conscious students are
curious about language, like to play with words and
enjoy investigating the origins and histories of words.”
-Scott and Nagy (2004) p. 570
Adept diction: the skillful use of words in speech and
In a classroom rich with adept diction:
 Teachers can model skillful language
 Literature can offer skillful diction
 Writing conferences can urge students to experiment
with word choice
“The teacher who is alert to
opportunities for using sophisticated,
interesting, and precise language is
probably the most important element
in a word-rich environment.”
-Beck et. Al (2002)
In a successful vocabulary program: Words do not appear as
part of a classroom exercise and then drop from sight.
Teachers foster connection between words in the
classroom and words in the outside world.
One cool idea! --Word Wizard Chart p. 572
Alerting students to categorization of language contributes to
adept diction:
Making them aware of:
• Synonyms
• Denotations
• Connotations
• Antonyms
• Homographs
• Similes and Metaphors
• Idioms
**Knowledge of these terms contributes to a student’s
access to figurative language.
“Word play is sporting with the medium as medium…It
plays on the sense and imagery to create the humor
and nonsense of unusual connections.”
-Moffett&Wagner, 1992
Word Games:
1. Proverbs:
“Out of sight out of mind”
1. Hinks pinks:
“Angry father: Mad dad”
2. Puns:
“Time flies like a bird”
3. Riddles:
“How can you make a baby
buggy?” –Tickle his toes!
4. Tongue Twisters:
“She sells sea shells by the
2. Slang:
“junk food”
Word Formations:
1. Eponyms: words derived from
“watt” –after James Watt
1. Acronyms:
2. Toponyms: words derived from a
“sardines” –after the island of
“ZIP” –Zone Improvement Plan
2. Portmanteaus:
motel= motor + hotel
Word Manipulations:
1. Anagrams: rearranging the letters
of another word
read = dear
2. Palindromes: same forward and
mom, radar
Word consciousness can
also be fostered by studying
the origin of words.
Words in English come from:
1. Anglo Saxon: short everyday words
2. Latin: longer words in literature and textbooks
3. Greek: specialized words in science and tech.
“Word Consciousness is crucial to learners’ success in
expanding the breadth and depth of students’ word
knowledge over the course of their lifetimes.”
(Graves and Watts-Taffe, 2002)
“Children learn best when they have strong personal interest
and are actively and interactively involved with learning…”
(Johnson, Johnson,& Schlichting, 2004)
An extensive explanation
of lessons listed below
is available on pgs. 580-606
1. Animal Idioms
2. Latin and Greek Number Words
3. Antonym Scales
4. Web Word Web
5. Five-senses Simile Web
6. Poetry as Word Play
7. Vocabulary Hotshot Notebook
Blachowicz and Fisher (2002) found that students
struggling with reading “almost universally” had
not played word games either at home or at
school, and that “When we invited them to do so,
they often became animated and motivated

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