Can Words POP!?



Learning that POPS is learning that grows your brain…popping new connection buds into place.

Here are three truths about learning that POPS!…

  1. Learning POPS for you if it is personally meaningful.
  2. It POPS for you if you are excited about it.
  3. It POPS if your friends are also excited about it.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could make learning of new words POP for our students,
especially when learning those generic academic words?

Is it Personally Meaningful?
Encounters with study words outside of the classroom setting bring personal meaning to those words. When students find academic words showing up in their personal spaces, those text book words begin to take on more relevancy. They’ll find words like analyze, benefit, or accommodate can show up on their favorite TV show, or Facebook, or in the grocery store…a quiet but not insignificant POP.

Is it Exciting?
That’s a tough one! Most students I’ve encountered are not naturally excited about learning the word “concept.” Excitement must come from a bigger sense of why learning a word matters. Competition is one way to add excitement to learning but you have to make good use of the pros and not intensify the cons of competition. For instance, the game aspect, the feeling of success, the comradeship make the learning POP! These work best with kids in the middle grades. Younger students tend to take things too personally. And for those who always feel behind or don’t like the pressure, they should be able to be winners as well. If you can make competition a win-win experience, then you’ve accomplished POP!

Are Your Friends Digging It?
I am an introvert, which oddly enough makes me exceptionally well qualified to say that peer interaction really can make things POP! It just needs to be the safe kind. In both my childhood and as a teacher I’ve seen the safest peer interactions occur when students get to choose a partner to work with. Working with a partner team combined with win-win competition is a formula for POP! Then add to that the idea of working towards a class goal and your classmates can be cheering each other on.

So…what kind of an activity incorporates these attributes and helps make word learning POP!?

I recently read about an activity called In the Media. Dr. Margaret Mckeown and her research team created this activity and tested it with 6th graders. The general idea is students collect new context for words they are learning in class, from outside the classroom. They share these with their classmates while competing for recognition points. I loved the idea and wondered if I could enhance the POP of it all. So I did, and you’ll never guess what I decided to call this activity…POP! Of course!

You can try out POP! after you subscribe to my blog.

You will also gain access to the AWL (high frequency Academic Word List)

And remember:


Please share in the comments section a moment when you had POP! while teaching words.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *