Fun ways for teachers to use the Oxford Wordlist in the classroom

Fun ways teachers use the Oxford Wordlist to improve literacy

The Oxford Wordlist has a place in many Australian classrooms. Whether as a poster or the basis for activities promoting literacy, the Wordlist is a valuable tool in helping students learn the words most commonly used in the writing of Australian children.

As Oxford University Press releases its updated Oxford Wordlist for the first time in a decade, we asked primary school teachers how they use the Wordlist in their classes.

We loved the originality and fun in their responses.

  • A game of Memory – With students in small groups, set the cards out on the ground. Students can select a card then pick up another card, trying to find the same word.
  • Ask students to make the words out of playdough or trace the words in sand.
  • Ask students to pick up a word card from a pile and practise writing it on a whiteboard.
  • Use flashcards to practise reading the words, asking each student to read out the word on their card.
  • Select a few cards and ask students to create a sentence using the words they have selected.
  • Set up a ‘word wall’ for students to refer to when they are writing. Different words can be placed on the wall with Velcro each day, and those words can be used in the day’s writing pieces.
  • Give each child a ‘word of the day’ card to carry around with them. Get them to write the word out at the end of the day (either on its own or in a sentence).
  • Wordlist Bingo – create bingo-like placemats using selected Wordlist words. Call out the words until a student has all the words in one line.
  • Create a booklet for students to take home with their readers, with a column for each day of the week. The students can read out five words on Mondays and Tuesdays, then practise spelling out the words on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Case study: Leonie, Melbourne

I work in language support with small groups of students and individuals. I find that it works well for students to have a list of words they can refer to as they write, so we use the Wordlist regularly.

We have it displayed in the same place in the classroom all the time, so that the predictable location supports students’ use of the resource.

We do lots of modelling, and locating words on the chart, as a warm up for the writing session. The students also play games with it and challenge each other to locate words as a time challenge. One student reads and the other finds a word. They like the competitive element involved with this game, and it also gives me an opportunity to see which ones they can read!

During reading we will locate a new high frequency word in a number of books and also on the charts to see the word on a different plane. It is good to support flexibility and enables the opportunity to recognise words in different contexts.

As well as using the Wordlist in the classroom, I send the wall chart home with parents so they can display it at home for kids to access. At home, they can taking new words to fluency by writing the words on the fridge with a whiteboard marker from the chart, or construct the words out of magnetic letters. In this activity, the student voice is important, as they have the opportunity to choose the words that they would like to learn from the list, thereby challenging themselves and keeping track of new words they can write correctly.

To find out more about the new Oxford Wordlist, visit www.oxfordwordlist.

Tell us how you use the Oxford Wordlist in your classroom.

The 2017 Oxford Wordlist research study was conducted by Oxford University Press in partnership with Anne Bayetto from Flinders University. Anne teaches undergraduate and postgraduate topics focusing on students who have literacy and/or numeracy difficulties. Anne is also the reading expert for the Principals as Literacy Leaders (PALL) program.

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