Thursday, July 26, 2012

Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary in Language Arts and in Content Areas


Research shows three important findings for vocabulary:
  • Vocabulary directly relates to reading comprehension
  • Learning vocabulary is more effective when it’s related to existing knowledge
  • Direct instruction is more effective than just incidental learning
Vocabulary directly relates to a person's ability to comprehend and communicate effectively.

With keeping these three findings in mind, teachers can use an instructional outline for teaching vocabulary.  The 5th Annual Reading First Conference (2008) provides this guide for teaching vocabulary:
  1. Pronounce Chorally
  2. Explain vs. Define
  3. Provide Examples
  4. Quick Teach & Deepen Understanding
  5. Review & Coach Use
However, Reading First also stresses that not all words deserve the same amount of instructional time.  To make this clear, they broke instructional intensity down into three levels starting with the most intense:
  • Thorough Robust Treatment
    • All 5 levels are used, no limit to numbers of times a level is used, teach until students learn
  • Quick Teach
    • Only the first 3 levels are used, no more than a few minutes of instruction
  • Mention in Passing (Point of Encounter)
    • Say the word, give a quick synonym, have students repeat, less than one minute of instruction
Which vocabulary words deserve the more intense approach?  Which deserve the least?  Think about which words students will use both for the lesson and in the future.  Those words, words they will need in the long run, are the ones that deserve more instructional time.

So, when a word requires the “Thorough Robust Treatment” of instruction, what does that look like in concrete terms?  What strategies can you use?  Several instructional approaches and resources are listed below to answer these question.  

Implications for Content Area Instruction

The following list of eight strategies comes from a combination of experience while teaching and from Vocabulary Activities:
  • Four Square
  • Cloze Reading
  • List-Group-Label
  • Word Sorts
  • Word Maps
  • Linear Arrays
  • Word Analysis (and Polar Opposites)
  • Vocabulary Journals
  • Frayer Model
Students can also practice vocabulary in engaging ways through the use of technology.  The following is a list of websites for vocabulary instruction, learning, and assessment.  Clicking on the name of the website will open it for you in a new window.

Hundreds of vocabulary games from synonyms to oxymorons to phonics
Play pinball - as the ball spins around, try to hit letters to spell words
Play Hangman from word lists broken down by grade level, difficulty level, and topic
Many different types of games
Games based on grade level, game type, or part of speech
Compound word games, idioms, analogies, etc.
Create flashcards to study online in several different ways

Implications for Language Arts Instruction

Many of the above content area strategies also work for vocabulary development in Language Arts instruction.  

Here are a few more ideas that work well when helping students expand and develop their vocabularies: 
  • Teach more precise words: This can be done in several different ways.
    1. Word Walls: Interactive displays of words on any topic a teacher chooses; students can add to the display and reference it in their reading and writing activities
    2. Synonym Posters: When students repeatedly use the same word in their writing, teachers can use synonym posters to illustrate more descriptive words students can use in place of the over-used word
    3. Colorful Words: An activity where a "boring" word is written on the bottom of a paint strip and students use their knowledge and resources like thesauruses to create more "colorful" words for each line of the paint strip; strips can then be displayed on a bulletin board
Colorful Words Activity

  •  Root Analysis and Morphemes
    1. Students are able to build an understanding of new words based on their knowledge of word parts through direct instruction of morphemes and roots
    2. Example: 
      • the suffix -less means without, if students know this, they will be better able to understand the meaning of the following words: aimless, blameless, merciless

Do you have any other resources you love to use when teaching vocabulary?  Any effective strategies, materials, or approaches that engage your students?  If so, please share them in the comments section below.
Follow on Bloglovin

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...