How to Expand Your Students' Vocabulary
Sometimes building vocabulary comprehension and exposure requires less complexity than you think. Carolyn Lingenfelter, a seventh and eighth grade language arts teacher, offers some practical ways to get your students involved and learning!
Lingenfelter suggests starting each week with a new activity sheet entitled "Words of the Week". At the beginning of each class period, present your students with a new word. As Chris Anderson commented, a year's worth of vocabulary can be planned in advance to ensure a logical progression and/or relatedness. Additionally, word choices can be correlated with specific objectives (e.g. literacy topics or themes covered, linguistic origins, parts of speech, other subjects of study, etc.). After presenting the vocabulary word of the day, discuss the word's definition. Have your students copy it onto their activity sheet, write it's part of speech, then practice using the vocabulary word correctly in a sentence. Call on students to share their answers, providing them with a bonus point if they are correct. Throw in questions like: "What is the origin of the word?", "What are related words?", etc. and provide bonus points for correct answers here as well.
You'll have to develop your own system of awarding bonus points (e.g. five points = one full point to be added to your grade, etc.) so that things don't get out of hand, but the extra incentive will get your students involved and learning!