Series: The Power of Collaboration for ELLs

Total Physical Response Vocabulary
Lesson Objective: Use transition moments in class as an opportunity to teach vocabulary
All Grades / All Subjects / ELL

Thought starters

  1. What is total physical response?
  2. What types of words does Ms. Sweeney select for this strategy?
  3. Why is this strategy especially useful for English Language Learners?
I do something similar for story vocabulary in ELA. I use sign language along with clapping and rhythm. I teach first grade and it works!
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This is a great method to assure that students remember meanings of words. The use of visual, auditory and kinetic stimuli will assist students to remember; Actual application is better retained than just memorization.
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Agree with Anna.
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This teacher uses a variety of GLAD strategies!
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Wow, what a coincidence! This is exactly how I learn. I could never learn anything straight by memorization. I need physical movement and silly, fun sentences to help me remember the vocabulary terms. I never had a teacher taught this way before and I am glad that somebody is actually enforcing this concept. Not everyone are good at memorizing by reading or writing. With this fun technique, this for sure will stay with the students for a very long time. I'm grateful that she teaches this way.
Recommended (0)


  • Total Physical Response Vocabulary Transcript

    Speaker 1: Alright. We're going to transition.

    In our class, we use vocabulary with a gesture or

    Total Physical Response Vocabulary Transcript

    Speaker 1: Alright. We're going to transition.

    In our class, we use vocabulary with a gesture or physical response to transition from one piece of the lesson to the next piece of the lesson, so that the students have a lot of exposure to a vocabulary word over the course of a day.

    Remember our transition word this week is suppress. I say it. You say it. We're all going to do the gesture.

    Part of the transition word is using TPR, which is Total Physical Response.

    So remember when we're doing this, we're all speaking loud and clear. Ready? I'll say it. You say it. Suppress.


    Students: Suppress.

    Speaker 1: Keep them down.

    Students: Keep them down.

    Speaker 1: So this word is a Tier 2 academic vocabulary word that connects to the bigger theme of the unit. It's also a word that they will see in their reading.

    Let's practice our word again.


    Students: Suppress.

    Speaker 1: And we'll do that three or four times a lesson as we transition from group work to teacher direction to another phase of the lesson.

    Alright. Keep thinking about that word. We're not just doing the gestures and saying it. I want you to keep thinking about what it means, and how it's relating to the topic you've just learned about.

    Tips for getting started, using a transition word, especially with TPR. You want the gesture and the definition to be short. Three or four words.

    Speaker 1: How did that [inaudible 00:01:21] in?

    Speaker 1: Also, have the students help. Ask them, "What do you think of when I say this word and you know it means this. What gestures do come to mind for you?"

    Other words we've used were suffrage. So I would say, "Suffrage." They say, "Suffrage". We all say, "Right to vote." Or secede. Secede. Pull away.

    Nice job today, guys. Let's use our transitional word one more time.

    So plan in stopping points where you're going to use it.

    Speaker 1: Suppress.

    Speaker 1: We can ask students, you know, even years later when they come back. That's something that they always remember and they always enjoy and have fun with.

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School Details

Horning Middle School
2000 Wolf Road
Waukesha WI 53186
Population: 750

Data Provided By:



Meredith Sweeney
Shannon Kay
6 7 8 / Coach


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