Digital Word Detectives: Building Vocabulary With e-Book Readers
- Preview |
- Standards |
- Resources & Preparation |
- Instructional Plan |
- Related Resources |
E-book readers, or digital readers, are devices that can host thousands of electronic books and allows readers to interact with digital texts through the use of e-book tools and features. In this lesson, students will read e-books and use digital tools (dictionaries and notes) to support their development of vocabulary. Specifically, students will assume roles of “word detectives” as they look up words in digital dictionaries and use other strategies to identify the meaning of vocabulary words. This lesson assumes that students have prior knowledge of e-book reading and are familiar with the specific tools and features of their digital readers. In particular, students should know how to access and use the built-in digital dictionary and know how to insert digital notes into an e-book. If students lack such knowledge, please see Going Digital: Using e-Book Readers to Enhance the Reading Experience for an introductory lesson plan.
From Theory to Practice
- Learning words via naturally occurring context is important but not terribly efficient (Stahl & Nagy, 2006).
- Students need instruction and practice using context clues including repeated, meaningful encounters with new words.
- When having access to digital readers, students use new literacy skills and strategies to envision and retrieve the potential of the digital device.
- Electronic books extend connections between readers and text as engagement with and manipulation of text is made possible through electronic tools and features.
- Electronic books provide new opportunities and extended possibilities for personal interpretation of and engagement with texts.
- Digital note-taking features engage students in the reading experience.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
Materials and Technology
- Digital Readers for student use
- Visual presenter/document and LCD projector for demonstration
- e-Books compatible with digital readers
- Select and download e-book title(s) to the digital reading devices. Consider students’ prior experience, vocabulary knowledge, and reading levels when selecting appropriate children’s/young adult chapter books. If appropriate, you may select one title for the entire class or multiple titles to allow for differentiated instruction. (The availability of specific book titles varies depending on the make/model of digital readers.)
- Identify approximately 3-4 vocabulary words from each chapter of the e-book. Consider your students’ grade level, reading abilities, and prior word knowledge. For each chapter, review the length and specific vocabulary. Adjust the number of selected vocabulary words accordingly.
- For each chapter of the book, fill out the book title, chapter, and column “Vocabulary Word” on the Vocabulary Pre-Assessment handout. Make a copy for each student.
- If access to digital readers is limited, create a reading schedule that allows each student access to a device throughout the day. Alternatively, divide the class into small groups of 2–4 students, in which they will share a device and read together.
- Review your district’s technology policy and guidelines. Work closely with your district’s technology staff or administrators to ensure a successful purchasing and downloading of e-books.
- Consider students’ prior knowledge of e-book reading in general and digital readers in particular. If students are new to the digital reading experience, introduce them to the various tools and features associated with their devices. For introductory lesson plan suggestions, please see Going Digital: Using e-Book Readers to Enhance the Reading Experience.
- Increase their understanding of vocabulary through the use of electronic dictionaries and other strategies to support their reading processes
- Define and record meaning of vocabulary words in digital note form by using digital readers and other online tools
- Demonstrate their understanding of vocabulary words through discussion in small, collaborative groups and documentation within the digital reader
Introductory Session (45 minutes)
- Place your digital reader on a visual presenter/document camera and zoom in so the device screen is visible on a large wall screen. Explain to your students that they will begin reading a new e-book on their digital readers. Introduce the title and author. “Today we are going to start reading [Title] by [Author]. You will read this book on your digital reader. Let’s see what this e-book looks like.” Guide your students through the process of viewing the book’s cover, title page, and the table of contents. Note how many chapters are in the book.
- Explain that this book contains many interesting vocabulary words. “In each chapter, I have selected words that you may or may not be familiar with. As you read this book, you will act as word detectives as you find and learn the words that I have selected. However, before you read each chapter, I want to find out which words you already know and which words are unfamiliar to you.”
- Place a copy of the Vocabulary Pre-Assessment handout for chapter 1 on the visual presenter/document camera. Explain to your students that this is the list of vocabulary words for chapter 1. Distribute a copy of the Vocabulary Pre-Assessment handout for chapter 1 to each student. Read the list of words aloud and ask students to fill out the column “Meaning of Word” by providing an example definition for each vocabulary word. Emphasize that it is okay if students don’t know the meaning of a word but that they should try their best. Collect the Vocabulary Pre-Assessment handout as students complete it. Do not discuss the meaning of the words at this point.
- Ask your students, “What strategies do effective readers use when they encounter a word they don’t know what it means?” As a class, brainstorm and discuss ideas (look up words in a dictionary, ask a friend, use context clues, use picture clues, etc.)
- Explain to your students that many digital readers have a built-in dictionary that allows readers to quickly look up a word without having to put down their e-book. Place your digital reader on a visual presenter/document camera and model how to access/use the digital dictionary. If your digital reading device does not feature a built-in dictionary, or if you want additional resources for your students, please model the use of online dictionary tools such as Oxford Dictionaries or Dictionary.com.
- Explain to your students, “Today, as you read and encounter the Chapter 1 vocabulary words, I want you to use the digital dictionary (and/or online dictionaries) and any other strategies that we’ve discussed to figure out what each word means.” Refer to the posted list of words from Chapter 1 and say, “When you know what a word means, please insert a digital note next to that word. In each note, explain what the vocabulary word means. You can provide an example and/or a definition. Make sure not to copy the dictionary. Really think about what the word means and explain it in your own words so it makes sense to you.” (If your students are unfamiliar with inserting digital notes, please demonstrate how to do so.)
- Using the visual presenter/document camera, complete the first vocabulary word together as a whole class to make sure all students understand the process of (a) identifying the vocabulary word, (b) using the digital dictionary and/or other strategies to learn the meaning of the word, and (c) inserting a digital note next to the vocabulary word with a definition or explanation of the word’s meaning.
- Post the list of vocabulary words for Chapter 1 on the board or visual presenter. Remind students to refer to this list as they read.
- Ask your students to read Chapter 1, independently or with a partner, and to identify and learn the meaning of all vocabulary words.
- As students finish reading, ask them to meet in small groups to compare their digital notes (i.e., vocabulary definitions or explanations) and discuss the meaning of the vocabulary words. When all students have finished reading, continue the discussion as a class.
Assessment for Session 1
Review students’ Vocabulary Pre-Assessment handouts for Chapter 1. Score each definition according to the Vocabulary Rubric. Identify common misconceptions, misunderstandings, or lack of knowledge. Address such issues with individual students as needed prior to the next session.
Observe and listen to students’ discussions about vocabulary words (small groups and whole class). Use the Vocabulary Observation Form to record any misconceptions or notable examples. Address any concerns or share examples with the class.
Session 2 (30-45 minutes)
- Briefly discuss yesterday’s reading. “What do you like about the book so far? What happened in Chapter 1?” Explain to the class that today they will continue to work as word detectives. Ask students to share strategies they used to learn the meaning of words in Chapter 1. If needed, use a visual presenter/document camera to demonstrate how to access and use the digital dictionary and/or insert digital notes.
- Provide each student with a copy of the Vocabulary Pre-Assessment handout for Chapter 2. Remind them that it’s okay if they don’t know a word but to try their best to provide an example and/or definition. Collect handouts.
- Post the list of vocabulary words for Chapter 2 on the board. Remind students to refer to this list as they read.
- Ask your students to read Chapter 2, independently or with a partner, and to identify and learn the meaning of the vocabulary words.
- As students finish, ask them to meet in small groups to compare their digital notes (i.e., vocabulary definitions or explanations from Chapter 2) and discuss the meaning of the vocabulary words. As a whole class, continue to discuss the meaning of each word.
Assessment for Session 2
- Review students’ Vocabulary Pre-Assessment handouts for Chapter 2. Score each definition according to the Vocabulary Rubric. Identify common misconceptions, misunderstandings, or lack of knowledge. Address such issues with individual students as needed prior to the next session.
- Observe and listen to students’ discussions about vocabulary words (small groups and whole class). Use the Vocabulary Observation Form to record any misconceptions or notable examples. Address any concerns or share examples with the class.
Subsequent Vocabulary Sessions (30-45 minutes each)
Repeat Vocabulary Session 2, Steps 1-5, for each additional chapter in the book. In other words, a book with seven chapters will likely require seven sessions. However, you may choose to include multiple short chapters in one session, or assign long chapters over several sessions. After each session, repeat assessment procedures described in Session 2.
Ask students to individually select unfamiliar words while reading in addition to the teacher-selected vocabulary words. Encourage students to share these words and their meaning in small-group discussions.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Provide students with the comprehensive Vocabulary Post-Assessment handout, listing the vocabulary words from all chapters. Ask students to provide a definition and/or explanation of each word in writing. Explain that while the Vocabulary Pre-Assessment handouts only included a few words for each chapter, the Vocabulary Post-Assessment includes all of the vocabulary words from the book. Review students’ Vocabulary Post-Assessment handouts. Score each definition according to the Vocabulary Rubric.
- Use the Digital Reading Tools Assessment to document students’ progress. Carefully observe or conference with individual students to determine and document their use of digital tools to support reading comprehension in general and vocabulary learning in particular.
- For additional information about students’ vocabulary development, observe and record student misunderstandings on the Vocabulary Observation Form and review their notes in the digital readers. Compare the digital notes to students’ Vocabulary Pre-Assessment definitions and their Vocabulary Post-Assessment definitions. Look for similarities, differences, misconceptions, or insights. Discuss with individual students as appropriate.