Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Explicit and Tiered Vocabulary Instruction - What, Why and How? - Part IV

I received a lot of positive feedback and great questions from several teachers that are extremely excited to learn more about vocabulary instruction, so I am answering these three crucial questions:

1. What does explicit vocabulary instruction really mean?
While I was explicitly teaching vocabulary, I quickly learned that it is important to make the distinction between oral vocabulary and reading vocabulary.  
Oral vocabulary can be further divided into listening vocabulary (receptive vocabulary) and speaking vocabulary (expressive vocabulary).   
Reading vocabulary is encountered in text and it is more complex than our speaking vocabulary.

2. Why is explicit vocabulary teaching so important?

Vocabulary is a strong predictor of reading comprehension. For our students to understand the text, they must know what most of the words mean before they can comprehend what they are reading. Children with well-developed vocabularies can recognize a new word in text faster and easier, if the word has an identity in their mind. 

 3. How do you choose which words to teach directly?

Isabel Beck and her colleagues have developed a really nice framework for choosing the most important words that should be targeted for instruction.  She divides words into three “tiers”.

Tier I words are the most common words. Examples: come, see, happy, table
Tier II words are high-frequency words. Examples: hilarious, endure, despise, arrange, compare, contrast. Examples: hilarious, endure, despise, arrange, compare, contrast
Tier III words are typically specialized words.   Examples: atom, molecule, metamorphic, sedimentary, continent. 

* She recommends identifying and teaching Tier II words as they occur and can be used across contexts.

Great resources
Book: Bringing Words to Life (Isabel L Beck)

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