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Discovering Meanings of Unfamiliar Words


Students who received direct instruction of vocabulary words critical to learning new content had an increase of 33 percentile ... Systematic and Explicit Teaching – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Discovering Meanings of Unfamiliar Words

Digging Deep
  • Discovering Meanings of Unfamiliar Words
  • Althea W. Peak
  • 2nd Grade
  • SWP Summer 2013

How do you teach students meanings of unfamiliar
  • Turn and Talk
  • Children dont have full vocabularies that they
    need, so word study and strategies are imperative
  • Cover up unfamiliar words and let kids use photos
    and illustrations to figure out the meaning
  • Even in content studies, vocabulary can be taught
    through visuals and through experiences (ie.

My Roadblock
  • I found that during and after reading texts
    many of my students did not understand what they
    read. Many of the students in my school do not
    have the background knowledge they need to be
    equipped for the understanding of vocabulary they
    will encounter in books they read independently
    for pleasure or for information. When giving
    assessments like the Dominie, I found that the
    most commonly missed questions were questions
    that asked students about word meaning within the
    context. So, I asked the question, How do I
    strengthen how I teach students the meanings of
    unfamiliar words?

Should strategies to figure out meanings of
vocabulary be taught?
  • The CCSS require the teaching of phonological
    awareness, phonics, fluency, and other
    foundational literacy skills in Grades K5. This
    makes sense since research has demonstrated the
    value of explicitly and systematically teaching
    these skills. In order to meet the requirements
    of the Standards, teachers will need to continue
    to provide high quality explicit and systematic
    instruction in these foundational skills if
    students are to succeed in learning to read.

Common Core Standards
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.4 Determine or clarify the
    meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and
    phrases based on grade 2 reading and content,
    choosing flexibly from an array of strategies
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.4e  Use glossaries and
    beginning dictionaries, both print and digital,
    to determine or clarify the meaning of words and
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.5b Distinguish shades of
    meaning among closely related verbs (e.g.,toss,
    throw, hurl) and closely related adjectives
    (e.g., thin, slender, skinny, scrawny).
  •   CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.6 Use words and phrases
    acquired through conversations, reading and being
    read to, and responding to texts, including using
    adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g.,When
    other kids are happy that makes me happy).

What strategies do you use to figure out the
meaning of an unfamiliar word?
  • The lungs main air pipes, the bronchi,
    branch many times until they form hair-thin
    tubes, terminal bronchioles. Those end in
    grape-like bunches of air bubbles, called
  • Nonfiction Craft Lessons Teaching Information
    Writing K-8
  • by Joann Portalupi and Ralph Fletcher

Strategies for figuring out meanings of
unfamiliar words
  • Re-read
  • Use schema look for familiar terms or words
  • Pay attention to the words
  • Take time
  • Think
  • Look for punctuation helpers
  • Use context clues
  • Pay close attention to the pictures

Why Systematic or Direct Instruction of
  • Research has concluded that systematic vocabulary
    instruction is one of the most important
    instructional interventions that teachers can
    use, particularly with low-achieving students.
  • Students who received direct instruction of
    vocabulary words critical to learning new content
    had an increase of 33 percentile points in
    summative assessments. Direct instruction
    enhances achievement.
  • Students that were taught vocabulary through
    direct instruction also had a 12 increase in
    comprehension of new material. Their ability to
    comprehend new vocabulary increased as a result
    of direct instruction.

  • Classroom Instruction
    that Works
  • By Robert Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock

Systematic and Explicit Teaching
  • Vocabulary instruction is the strongest action
    a teacher can take to ensure that students have
    the background knowledge they need to understand
    the content they will encounter in school.

  • (Marzano, Pickering, 2005)

  • "Direct instruction on words that are critical to
    new content produces the most powerful
    learning." Robert Marzano
  • . http//

What are some Techniques you use to teach
meanings of unfamiliar words?
Teaching unfamiliar vocabulary using mentor texts.
  • Mini- lesson Choose a Read Aloud that has rich
    vocabulary. Read aloud the first few pages by
    using the think aloud method. Think aloud about
    the meanings of words from the page(s). When
    talking out loud ask questions, refer to your
    background knowledge(schema), re-read, look at
    the picture and talk about it.
  • Model other words
  • Ask students to think about what they heard you
  • Chart what they noticed

Using mentor texts continued.
  • Then tell students its their turn to listen
  • Raise their hand when they dont understand a
  • Record their unfamiliar word(s) on a chart What
    can you do to help yourself figure out the
    meaning of an unfamiliar word?
  • Next have students to work with partners using
    other texts to find unfamiliar words and record
    their findings on the chart
  • Come back together and share findings

Example of chart
Unfamiliar Word What I think it means? What helped me?
collected To have a lot of something, same thing but different colors or sizes Pictures, schema
Teaching unfamiliar words using the Frayer Model
as an instructional strategy.
  • Mini-lesson- identify important vocabulary from
    content area/unit. Show students the word(s)
    that they are expected to understand in order to
    master the lessons objective.
  • Review vocabulary words or concept list with the
    class before students read the selection.
  • Students may work in groups on the vocabulary
  • Have students read the assigned text selection
    and carefully define the key concepts after
    talking about the vocabulary . Have each group of
    students complete the four-square chart for each
    concept word.
  • Have the groups to share what they learned when
    they come back together.

Example of Frayer Model
Other Strategies for Vocabulary Building
  • Content-Word Boards
  • Writing
  • Open word discussions
  • Use concrete objects

Context Clues Chart
Created by Daisy Bokus and Her Third Graders One
Child at a Time by Pat Johnson
What to do when you can read a word but you dont know what it means
1. Cover it up.
2. Read all around the word.
3. Think about a word that would make sense in its place.
4. Read the sentence again using the new word instead.
5. Thats probably what the hard word means.
6. It works most of the time, but not all the time.
Mentor Texts with rich vocabulary
How does teaching strategies to understand
unfamiliar words impact student learning?
  • Turn and talk

Benefits of Strategies
  • Promotes critical thinking
  • Discuss meaning of unfamiliar words
  • Opportunities to clear up misconceptions
  • Familiarizes students with unknown vocabulary
  • Gives visual representation
  • Imagery
  • Builds connections to new concepts
  • Deeper understanding

  • Fountas, Irene and Pinnel, Gay Su. Guided
    Reading. Heinemann, Portsmouth,NH. 1996.
  • Johnson, Pat. One Child at a Time. Stenhouse
    Publishers, Porland, Maine. 2006.
  • Marzano, Robert, Pickering and Pollock. Classroom
    Instruction that Works. 2001.
  • Miller, Debbie. Reading with Meaning. Stenhouse
    Publishers. Portland, Maine. 2002.
  • Parker, Steve. Brain Surgery for Beginners and
    Other Major Operations for Minors. Brookfield
    ,CTMillbrook Press. 1995.
  • Portalupi, Joann and Fletcher, Ralph. Nonfiction
    Craft Lessons-Teaching Information Writing K-8.
    Stenhouse Publishers. 2001.
  • /Frayer model.
  • Zimmerman, Susan and Hutchins Chryse. 7 Keys to
    Comprehension. Three Rivers Press, NY,NY. 2003