Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Vocabulary Matters: Strategies That Work! Part 1-Introduction


When I first started blogging I wrote a post about the importance of explicit vocabulary instruction. At the time I had very few followers and viewers so I thought it was a topic worth revisiting in hopes of reaching more teachers. Having worked in a Title I school for many years as an ESL Resource teacher I did a lot of research into vocabulary development. One of the best research studies came from Hart and Risley, 1995. "Children come to school with meaningful differences in vocabulary knowledge. According to their research what matters is a student's relative economic advantage. Children living in poverty hear one-third the number of words per minute than those of the working class. Not only was there a difference in numbers of words but also in quality. Students living in poverty aren't exposed to rich, robust words and by the time they enter school the vocabulary knowledge gap is even wider." Explicit Vocabulary Instruction is necessary to help bridge that gap for these students . "Vocabulary occupies an important position both in learning to read and in comprehending text: readers cannot understand text without knowing what most of the words mean (National Reading Panel 2000)." It goes on to say that to develop vocabulary students should be explicitly taught both specific words and word-learning strategies. Such instruction often doesn't begin with a definition  for giving a definition usually means that the student already knows what the word means. What rich and robust vocabulary instruction does is to go beyond knowing the definition of a word but to actively engage students in using and thinking  about word meanings and to create and make connections among words. For those who struggle to read or come to school deficient in rich and robust vocabulary acquisitions needs to be accelerated if there is any hope of these learners catching up with their peers.

What is vocabulary?  
  • It is the knowledge of words and their meanings.
Vocabulary instruction involves much more than looking the words up in the dictionary and using the words in a sentence. 

Four components of  an Effective Vocabulary Program 
  1. Extensive independent reading to help expand world knowledge
  2. Specific word instruction to help improve understanding of texts containing those words
  3. Instruction in independent word-learning strategies
  4. Word-consciousness and word-play activities to motivate and enrich learning
Today I would like to introduce Components 2-4 and what I will be writing about in my upcoming posts called "Vocabulary Matters: Strategies that Work" 


I will be referring to a book entitled  "Vocabulary Handbook" written by Linda Diamond and Linda Gutlohn.  I was very fortunate to have taken several workshops from Linda Diamond and it truly changed the way I approached teaching vocabulary. I hope you will take this journey with me and find some great ideas and strategies to try with your students. Today is an introduction to what I will sharing with you in the coming weeks.  I hope to give you research-based knowledge, practical applications and sample activities to improve vocabulary instruction. It will include:
Word learning Strategies

  • Dictionary use
  • Morphemic analysis- figuring out a word's meaning by analyzing it's meaningful parts: morphemes (root words, prefixes, suffixes)
  • Contextual analysis- figuring out the meaning of an unknown word by looking closely at the text surrounding the word.
Along with word learning strategies there will be information to help:
  • Cultivate word consciousness- getting our students to become aware of and interested in words.
  • Give students multiple exposures to words in multiple contexts
  • Restructure strategies- making sure that students fully understand the instructional task.
  • Foster incidental vocabulary learning- through engagement in rich oral language experiences, listening to books during read alouds and reading widely on their own.

You can download a copy of Part I by clicking on the image at the top of the post. I hope you will let me know if this is helpful for you.

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Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.






How much time do you spend each day on vocabulary instruction?


23 comments:

  1. This is so timely for me. I was just looking for vocabulary resources for my first graders last night. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you. Hope you will follow my blog so you will know when I post Part 2.
      Arlene

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  2. All the title one schools in my district are implementing SIOP this year and vocabulary is a HUGE component to this. Looking forward to your posts!!

    ❤ -Stephanie
    Falling Into First

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  3. Stephanie, I'm so excited that your district will be implementing SIOP this year. I used SIOP for 8 years and also became a Trainer for teachers and other Trainers.
    Arlene

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  4. What a great post. Vocabulary is such an important part of a child's education. I'm glad to see you focusing on it!

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    1. Thanks Yvonne. I've been wanting to do this for awhile.
      Arlene

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  5. Vocabulary is an often difficult concept to teach- even with gen ed students. Thanks for the great information!

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    1. You are welcome Tessa. Stay tuned for more.
      Arlene

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  6. Wow! Brilliant! You really know what you are talking about!

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    1. Thanks so much Jennifer.Next post we get onto specifics.
      Arlene

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  7. Great post! The importance of vocabulary keeps coming up in professional conversations. The lack of vocabulary in some children really limit what they can do in all areas of the curriculum. Thanks for sharing!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

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    1. Thanks so much Sally. I have a lot more to share!!!
      Arlene

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  8. Thank you for the reminder how important vocab instruction is. I think this is what I'll focus on just before and during dismissal time. Looking forward to your next post (following by e-mail notification). (BTW, I found you thru Pinterest.)
    Terri Brown

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  9. Sounds like the perfect time to get in some extra vocabulary. You will be amazed what an extra 5 or 10 minutes a day can do to help increase a student's vocabulary. Glad you found me.
    Arlene

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  10. This looks great! I'll share it on FB.

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  11. Thanks so much Michelle.
    Arlene

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  12. Thank you! This is perfect. We are doing a book club at our school with "Bringing Words to Life". I'm going to start following your blog. Great ideas!

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  13. This is great! Thank you! I'm going to follow your blog. Great ideas! We are doing a book club with " Bringing words to Life".

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  14. In Grad School at Appalachian University, we read Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction by Beck and McKeown. Since then, vocabulary has been a huge part of my first grade classroom. I have created several lessons using Tier II voc. in some of the best Children's Literature. Here is one I created for Fancy Nancy Bonjour Butterfly. It is free on TPT.

    http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fancy-Nancy-Bonjour-Butterfly-Vocabulary-Lessons

    I have shared them with all my K-2 friends and they love them.
    Can't wait to see your next post.

    :)
    Tamera
    MyHeartBelongsinFirst
    Kaizactan2001@yahoo.com

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  15. I found your blog on Facebook. I can't wait to read all of your vocabulary strategies. Thanks for sharing.

    Tracy
    California

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  16. So glad you found my blog and hope you find some great strategies to use in your classroom.
    Arlene

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