This PowerPoint was created as a demonstration lesson for one education professor’s instructional methods course. A central point is that Possible Sentences teaches clusters of words, rather than words in isolation—an approach that recent research in vocabulary learning is finding to be important.
Here is an opportunity to hear from one of the world's leading educational consultants, Robert Marzano. Here, he emphasizes the importance of direct instruction in vocabulary, and teaching new words in meaningful semantic clusters. He goes on to discuss two other features of a rich program of vocabulary instruction: vocabulary games and vocabulary notebooks. The “unfamiliar” words that you select for teaching with Possible Sentences would be perfect for reinforcement.
This presentation points out that some, but not all, approaches to vocabulary instruction improve reading comprehension. Approaches that don’t work include having students look up words in the dictionary, use words in sentences, try to figure out word meanings from context, and memorize word meanings. One thing that does work is connecting new words to known words, which direct instruction with Possible Sentences does by having the teacher select a mix of words.
This is a description of Possible Sentences at Vanderbilt University’s Iris Center website. The link is set to begin on the first of four pages in this section that are on Possible Sentences (pages 4-7), which you can easily navigate through. Note the relationships among the familiar and unfamiliar words in the sample set of words on page 5. Segments from a video of one classroom of direct instruction using this technique are interspersed throughout the 4 pages.
Here is a walk-through of how one teacher uses Possible Sentences for direct instruction with an Activeboard. The process is the same, whether or not an Activeboard is available. The presenter notes that this is a great activity to use before a video, as well as before a reading assignment.