Possible Sentences in teaching vocabulary

Possible Sentences
The Possible Sentences technique uses both known words and new words that
are related to key concepts in a reading selection. The teacher begins by choosing
some six to eight words from the text that might cause difficulty for the students.
(In a content area text, these words are usually key concepts in the text, but they
also may be more general words that relate to those key concepts.) Then, the
teacher chooses an additional four to six words that are more likely to be known
by the students. These familiar words are used to help generate sentences.
The teacher writes all of these words on the board, providing a short definition
of each word if desired or if necessary. Most of the time at least one student in
the class has knowledge of the word that can be shared. Students are directed to
make up sentences that contain at least two of these words, and that might be in
the selection they are about to read. The teacher writes these sentences on the
board. Both accurate and inaccurate guesses are accepted, but are not discussed at
this time. When the students are finished contributing sentences (and all words
are included in at least one sentence), the teacher has them read the selection.
After reading, the class then returns to the sentences on the board, and
discusses whether each sentence could or could not be true based on their
reading. If a sentence could be true, it is left alone. If a sentence could not be
true, then the class discusses how it could be modified to make it true.
For a unit on weather, front, barometer, humidity, air mass, air pressure, and
meteorology were chosen as the target words, with high, rain, clouds, and predict
as the familiar words.52 The criteria for choosing the target words included a
consideration of which words might be difficult for fifth graders and which words
were central to the concepts taught in a specific selection. The familiar words
were words that students were likely to know, and that lent themselves to logical
sentences that would relate to the major concepts in the selection.


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