The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA

Vocabulary Adventures!

One of the idiosyncrasies of human memory is that we have an easier time remembering images than words. With this in mind, fourth grade teacher Ward Russell has been harnessing the power of visual memory to help his fourth graders learn and retain new vocabulary.

About once a month, Ward assigns his students the task of creating a comic strip using the ten vocabulary words that they are learning. Each comic must have eight squares, use all the words in the chapter in a way that shows the student understands the meaning, use color, dialogue, and good handwriting. While students are encouraged to have fun and use humor in their work, they are also required to take the assignment seriously and put in their best effort.

Incorporating every single word into a single story can be challenging and requires students to really think about each word’s meaning so that their comic will make sense. For example, fourth grader Navin P. created a colorful comic called the “Adventures of Super Turtle” about a turtle who needs to get a prescription and take a photograph before he gets into a fight but always telegraphs his mom to tell her how it went afterwards! Unlike rote memorization of definitions, Ward notes that the comics are a great way for students to learn and retain new vocabulary while also helping him to see who really understands the meaning of each of the words they are learning.