Empower students’ intrinsic motivation by introducing vocabulary, data analysis, text-to-self strategies, and drama-based instruction.

by Kimberly Worthy

Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12


I always begin with the end in mind: What do I want my students to leave with and what do I want the outcome to be?

For my at risk students, I focus on what it is that disempowers them. So every year I start the first lesson with six words and phrases that I teach for vocabulary building: prejudice, stereotype, inferiority complex, internalize, and reject.

We spend time on these words, breaking them down into word parts, latin roots, making sentences with them, and researching data that is associated with them. They come to understand the power of those words and how the ways that those words have been used disempowers them.

I use several strategies including:

-Text-to-self, where kids read an article that contains our words and connect their own experiences to the article’s themes;

-Drama instruction, where students act out scenarios that they choose or I choose for them; and

-Data analysis, where students research issues or themes based on our key works.

With all of these strategies, my fifth graders end up feeling confident and competent to understand and use complex words and phrases, as well as have a more rounded picture of how these words impact them and their peers.

About Kimberly Worthy

Kimberly A. Worthy is an educator, innovator, author, speaker, and educational consultant with a lifelong passion for empowering and educating chil...

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