Chapter 1 discusses the importance of good vocabulary instruction in classrooms, especially with at risk kids (a good portion of my kiddos). The authors connect the instructional strategies to the Common Core standards: Reading, Writing, Language, and Speaking and Listening. No matter what grade you teach, all of these standards are hit ACROSS GRADE LEVELS! Love that! They also give you key components for your vocabulary instruction and discuss the positive results of a six-step instructional plan.
Key Components: "Because the old method just aint cuttin' it"
- Some words are more important to teach than others - Tier 1 (words they know coming in to school), Tier 2 (high frequency words that you will use all day/for any subject), Tier 3 (academic vocabulary). Base most of your instruction on Tier 2 words as Tier 3 words you will teach in context.
- Students have to learn words at more than one level - Did anyone else think of Marzano's scale when you read this?! LOL
- Students learn words when they experience them multiple times - One study said 6 was the magic number and another said 12. I feel like you could just go with 9 and call it a day but I'm going to go with 12 just to be on the safe side ;o) After you start thinking about it, twelve is not a lot in the span of a week (or however long your vocabulary units of study are) so it shouldn't be too hard to accomplish.
- Asking students to look up words in the dictionary and write the definition does NOT help them learn words - over 60% of student created sentences from dictionary definitions didn't make sense. When introducing your vocabulary words, use kid friendly language!
- When students learn words, they build patterns and networks of meaning called "word schemas" - They use synonyms, antonyms, prefixes, suffixes, and/or root words to break down an unfamiliar word. The students with sparse word schema are going to have a more difficult time inferring the context. In our class we create a different prefix/suffix note card each week. The kids learn a new affix and its meaning, come up with examples and create a visual on the front that would help them remember the meaning. I pick one to put up on our intermediate version of a Word Wall.
- Students can learn some words through the use of wide reading - Use different types of text, trade books, periodicals, direct instruction, etc.!
- Students can learn some words through rich conversation with adults and peers - Just think about how many times your students say something and you know it was straight from their parent's mouth! The majority of this section blew my mind! Children's literature contains two times as many rare words compared to a conversation between two college educated adults and more than all adult conversation except courtroom testimony! The example from The Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon was amazing supporting evidence - "The Creams were swamped with all kinds of remedies from psychologists, allergists, herbalists, nutritionists, psychics, an old medicine man, a guru, and even a veterinarian. Each so-called cure only added to poor Camilla's strange appearance until it was hard to even recognize her." Check out all those terrific words!
I found this video of Sean Astin reading it aloud as part of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation program Book Pals, a program where actors read children's literature to help motivate our students.
- Students can learn some words through word play - Let them learn and play with words through multisensory activities. Our learning cubes, Vocabulary Dance Out, and so many other great resources that I will be sharing later instantly come to mind!
- Most students need word-learning strategies to become independent readers - Context clues and morphology (students find a key to unlock the meanings of longer, multisyllabic words).
Wordbooks app for iPad or iPhone
*I really like this app because you can create your own vocab book and it will find the definition for you! If you don't like what it has to say, type in your own definition. It also has a matching/quiz type card game. Great way for students to review at any time and... IT'S FREE*
- I loved how she opened the chapter with the example of Brenda learning to read Spanish fluently but having NO idea what she was reading. I could instantly think of at least six students who do this! Anyone else???
- Teachers use simpler words to help a student understand (especially with at risk kids)... I totally do this sometimes :o( I will say that I have tried to be better about saying both ("What is your hypothesis, your guess, for this experiment?") especially if I'm talking to my ELL's or SLD students.
- I feel like that piece on children's literature needs to be mentioned again! It just goes to show, and prove, that trade books are essential in the classroom! Our textbooks are only written at our specific grade level, whereas their literature is giving them a wide range and full scope. LOVE IT!