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Teaching Vocabulary


Teaching Vocabulary Or, Prevailing Upon Moppets to Relish the Acquisition of Lexical Enlightenment Some research First graders from higher SES groups know roughly ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Teaching Vocabulary

Teaching Vocabulary
  • Or, Prevailing Upon Moppets to Relish the
    Acquisition of Lexical Enlightenment

Some research
  • First graders from higher SES groups know roughly
    twice as many words as their peers who come from
    lower SES backgrounds (Graves, Brunetti,
    Slater, 1982)
  • High school seniors ranked at the top of their
    class know about 4X as many words as their
    lower-performing classmates (Smith, 1991)
  • High-knowledge third graders know roughly as many
    vocabulary words as low-performing high school
    seniors (Smith, 1991).

  • Kids get better at reading (and improve their
    vocabularies) by reading (Allington, 2002)
  • Kids with low levels of vocabulary who are poor
    readers are unlikely to do the large amount of
    reading needed to grow their vocabularies (Stahl,
  • Vocabulary problems of children who enter school
    with limited vocabularies worsen over time
    (White, Graves, Slater, 1990).

Teaching Vocabulary
  • Direct Instruction
  • Purposeful introduction of particular words
  • Often done prior to students reading
  • Can involve interpreting dictionary definitions
  • Inference/Context
  • Having children infer word meanings by solving
    the word in context

The Dictionary Some Drawbacks
  • Weak Differentiation no way to distinguish among
  • Vague Language not enough info for kids to
  • Multiple pieces of information too much
    information for kids to use efficiently

The Role of Context
  • Context does play a role, and that role is
    perhaps more complicated than weve heretofore
  • Sometimes written contexts are not sufficient to
    help students successfully acquire words. (5 to
    15 of every hundred unknown words encountered in
    text are learned by context)

Misdirective Context
  • Context points a reader to an incorrect word
  • Michelle was reviewing her investment portfolio.
    She had a great deal of ready cash, several
    investment properties, and any number of stocks
    and bonds. Knowing how much money shed made last
    year, she was anticipating a ghastly meeting with
    the IRS officer.

General Context
  • Context gives the reader only enough information
    to have a general idea of a words meaning.
  • The haunted house was full of sinister creatures.

Non-Directive Context
  • Context does not give enough information for a
    reader to make a reasonable guess about a words
  • Betty and Tanisha were talking about last
    Fridays faculty party. They talked about each
    attendee in turn. When they got on the subject of
    Leon, they agreed that he was the most affable
    person they know.

Directive Contexts
  • Context is likely to lead the reader to an
    accurate word meaning
  • Nancy had worked really hard on preparing the
    accreditation report. Her colleagues were so
    grateful to her that they applauded her and
    complimented her throughout the hour-long
    meeting. It was obvious that Nancy enjoyed their
    effusive praise.

So, What Does it Mean?
  • The idea that kids learn new words from
    encountering them in text is an
    oversimplification of reality.
  • Teachers have to evaluate words and contexts
    carefully when relying on student inference as a
    means of vocabulary acquisition and when choosing
    which words to actively teach.

Levels of Vocabulary Words
  • Tier 1 Basic words
  • Dog, pencil, scary, darkness, walk
  • Meanings dont really need to be taught
  • Tier 2 High Frequency Words that Cross
  • Committee, evaluate, argumentative, upheaval
  • Tier 3 Specialized Vocabulary
  • Phoneme, sonnet, archipelago, isotope

Our Focus Tier Two!!
  • Familiar to mature language users
  • Used to provide more specific, sophisticated
  • Rich knowledge in this type of word can have
    significant impact on comprehension across
  • Recommendation teach 400 words/year

Identifying Tier 2 Words
  • Importance and utility Are the words generally
    useful? Will students encounter them in multiple
  • Instructional potential Do the words relate to
    other words the students know?
  • Conceptual understanding Do students have an
    understanding of ideas related to the new word?

Words Beyond the Text
  • If the text is about a dirty dog, you can
    introduce the word filthy.
  • If the text refers to an island that is far from
    civilization, you can introduce the word remote.
  • If a character is a story doesnt like to spend
    money, you could introduce the words parsimonious
    or miserly.

How to Explain Words
  • Give examples of PARTICULAR circumstances in
    which the word might be used.
  • You word use the word heave when someone lifts
    something that is very heavy.
  • Give examples in everyday language.
  • Someone who is persuasive can talk others into
    doing things.

Your mission
  • Identify Misdirective, General, Non-Directive,
    and Directive contexts.
  • Identify Tier 2 Words or overarching ideas that
    can be used to introduce/reinforce vocabulary.
  • Choose most crucial words (at least three).
  • Develop a kid-friendly definition for each.
  • Consider ways to reinforce students learning
    with these words.

Making it Real and Relevant
  • Carefully consider the words you choose.
  • Teach students to relate words to their
    background knowledge
  • Teach new words in relation to known words.
  • Teach words systematically and in-depth.
  • Give multiple opportunities for word use
    pre-reading, during reading, post reading,
    throughout the school day
  • Awaken interest in and enthusiasm for words.
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