Vocabulary Connections

This vocabulary program from Steck-Vaughn introduces new words in the context of fiction and non-fiction, and includes a variety of exercises for students to learn word meaning and usage. Each level includes about 20 lessons, clustered into themed units (although the units are themed, the ten vocabulary words in each lesson are not). Lessons begin with a fiction or non-fiction reading passage that uses the bold vocabulary words in context. Students are asked to underline words from the selection that give clues to the meanings. Following the reading selection, several activities are included. There are a wide variety of these, with a different mix of activities after each lesson. In my sample of Book F, a few of these include: word origins, close paragraphs, dictionary skills, short-answer questions, context clues questions, classification, puzzles, synonym/antonym activities, rewriting sentences using vocabulary words, graphic organizers, analogies, and more. A testing activity and a writing activity conclude each lesson. The testing activity asks the student vocabulary questions in a bubble test format. Writing activities give the student an opportunity to write a paragraph (or two) on a topic, the vocabulary words from the lesson. The thin teacher's guides are primarily made up of teaching helps, while the last few pages comprise the answer key. This program is the most similar in make-up to Vocabu-Lit in this section, with the main exception being that Vocabulary Connections features a mix of reading selections primarily from contemporary authors, while Vocabu-Lit stresses classic literature. Vocabu-Lit also features more strenuous exercises and focuses more on dictionary usage. On the other hand, this program offers a slightly more affordable alternative that is easy-to-use while placing an emphasis on learning words in context. - Jess




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