Some students do all right on daily work, but when it comes time to take the test—they fail. I currently have a student in my chemistry class who says he just cannot learn new vocabulary. He says that he can understand the concepts, but when it comes to the vocabulary section on the test, he just can’t remember the words and definitions.
Before our first test, I did several things with him. First of all we met one-on-one to discuss each vocabulary term. I asked him to read the word and its definition to me. Then I asked him, "What does that mean?" If he could tell me, I went on to the next word. If he couldn’t, I would ask him what we were doing in class when we learned that word and we would talk through what the word meant.
At our next meeting, I had him make a folded vocabulary chart. On the left side of the page, he wrote the word. Directly across from the word (on the right side of the page) he wrote the definition. It is important to make sure the word and definition are directly across from each other. Otherwise, when he hides the definition from himself he might see the wrong one when he uncovers the definition to check himself!
After he made the chart, I had him go back and draw pictures with each term that would help him remember the definition. He told me that the pictures were what helped him. He drilled himself using the chart. He took the test yesterday and got all the vocabulary correct!
It is possible that the act of making the study chart will be enough for some students to learn the terms. Other students need to drill the words and definitions over and over again before they can remember them. Still others need to have someone call out the words and definitions to them. Using flashcards, as discussed in this article, to study vocabulary is a similar strategy. You can add the pictures to them, too! Students will need a place to keep them so they don’t get lost, though.
Before a student is actually studying, they must test themselves to see if they can remember answers without looking. The vocabulary chart is one great way to do that.
Here is a customizable vocabulary chart you can use to help your child study for his next test.