“..a reader’s general vocabulary knowledge is the single best
predictor of how well that reader can
Anderson, R.C. & Freebody, P. (1981)
Students learn approximately 2,000-
3,000 words per year, about 6-8 new words per day to their
Anderson, R.C. & Nagy, W. E. (1992)
How do children learn words?
(Beck, McKeown, McCaslin, & Burkes)
Category of Word Knowledge Examples
Characteristics of Ineffective Vocabulary
•Assigning too many new words
•Looking up words to memorize
•Failing to produce in-depth word knowledge
Effective vocabulary instruction includes opportunities for
indirect AND direct
Indirect Vocabulary Instruction
•Through conversations, especially with adults.
•From listening to adults read to them.
•By reading extensively on their own.
Direct Vocabulary Instruction
•Teach specific words before reading
•Provide extended instruction to promote active engagement with vocabulary
•Promote repeated exposure to vocabulary across many contexts
Semantic Semantic MapsMaps
Direct Vocabulary Instruction
Small Group Activity:Work at Vocabulary Strategy Stations
Teaching Vocabulary Strategies When can I teach direct vocabulary
Sample vocabulary activities
Vocabulary instruction might occur during… Word study instruction Small-group reading instruction Writing instruction Content area instruction Interactive read-alouds
Word Map Purpose: Teaching the concept of a definition (the category, the description, examples, & and non-examples). Students might organize these on word cards, keep a notebook of words, use visual displays, etc.
Question: Why is important to discuss examples and non-examples of words? How can teachers use dictionaries effectively during vocabulary instruction? Notes:
List-Group-Label Purpose: To teach students to brainstorm and to organize information about a topic. This activity lends itself to content area instruction and can be used before or after study of a topic.
Question: Why is it important to group and label the brainstormed words? How do you handle off-the wall responses? Notes:
Semantic Feature Analysis Purpose: This strategy teaches students to distinguish the discriminating features of words. Students fill in a visual grid to compare and contrast the distinguishing features of words.
Question: This strategy lends itself to content area instruction, but discuss other ways it might be applied during literacy instruction. Notes:
Activity: Choose 1 of the activities you saw today. Discuss the questions below. Discuss & model how you would train your teachers to use it.
Summary: Guidelines for Effective
Vocabulary Instruction• Make sure students are
reading books at their instructional reading level!!!
• Introduce 2-4 new words per week. AVOID OVERLOAD.
• Teach vocabulary directly before, during, & after reading/writing instruction.
• Teach students strategies for using context clues.
• Link new words to familiar words & experiences (e.g., orthography = spelling)
• Familiarize students with common vocabulary test questions: analogies, context clues, cloze procedures, & selecting definitions
• Use reference materials effectively.
See Robb, L. (1999). Easy mini-lessons for building vocabulary. NY: Scholastic Professional Books for additional information.
Vocabulary at Different Stages
How is vocabulary addressed in your literacy block?
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