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Vocabulary Journals

Vocabulary Journals are valuable in helping students explore the meanings of words
that they encounter while reading. These journals are a specific type of learning log
where students record “their ideas and information from content areas in a notebook
and responses” (Popp, 1997, p. 1) about new words that they have learned from reading
literature or textbooks. Journals are not notebooks used to record notes. Rather,
Vocabulary Journals are used by students to respond and transact with words, concepts,
and ideas through the use of their own language. Students select words from their read-ings that are difficult, novel, or used in different contexts. They use their journals to
explore the words’ meanings, make connections between the new words and their own
experiences and ideas they already know, and produce rich definitions.
The primary purpose for using Vocabulary Journals is to encourage students to
become word conscious by collecting new and interesting words and learning their
meanings through engaged explorations. Vocabulary Journals may be used as part of
guided reading lessons, during independent reading, and during their readings across the
content areas. Teachers may use Vocabulary Journals effectively with students at all
grade levels by adjusting their instructional procedures. For example, Bone (2000) used
Vocabulary Journals with eighth-grade students in her literature class. She encouraged
students to explore the meanings of words by using different graphic organizers in their
journals. Students used graphics for making connections between word meanings, for
building knowledge with concept ladders, and for working through the meanings of
words with a K-W-L chart.

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