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Carol Bush Network Team Specialist Orleans/Niagara BOCES

There are major gaps in our students vocabularies from day one
Students from higher SES backgrounds VS. students from lower SES

backgrounds Top-performing seniors VS. lower-performing seniors High-performing 3rd graders VS. lowest performing 12th graders

Conventional wisdom
Words are learned in context. School-age children are successfully adding words to their

vocabularies. There are just too many words to teach through direct instruction

There is a big difference between oral and written context. Studies estimate that of 100 unfamiliar words encountered during reading, between 5 and 15 of them will be learned. Students must read widely and must read texts of sufficient difficulty to include words that are not already familiar. Many written contexts are not all that informative for deriving word meanings.

Research on this topic varies widely. Words learned per day is an average number and doesnt represent ALL children. At-risk, struggling, and lower achieving students wouldnt even come close to the average.

Not ALL words need direct instruction.

Direct instruction of Tier Two words is most productive.

Words are organized into word families making them easier to teach. Isnt it better to make a significant contribution to students vocabulary development than to hope students learn the words on their own?

Instruction that..

offers rich information about words and their uses provides frequent and varied opportunities to think about and use the words enhances students language comprehension and production

Some things to consider for Tier Two words

Importance and usefulness Instructional potential Conceptual understanding

What if there are not enough words? There is no such thing as an on grade level list of words!

Characterize the word and how it is typically used. Explain the meaning in everyday language. Provide an instructional context (as opposed to a natural context). Engage students in dealing with word meanings immediately.

Questions, reasons, and examples Making choices Using ALL the words

Relating words (sentences / choices) One context for all the words Same format Children create examples Reinforce connections between words and meanings Suggest ways to apply the words Apply learned words to new stories Use words in reading and writing

Maintain the words

Explore different facets of word meanings. Record the new words.

Authentic/rich definition Example

Encourage students use of words. Lead students to discover relationships among words. Provide alternative definitions. Impose time constraints. Move word study beyond the classroom.

Use mature language. Pay attention to words.

Word Wizard Vocabulary in a Shoe Box

Have an abundance of word resources available.

Varying dictionaries Thesaurus Games (scrabble, password, hangman, crossword puzzles) Websites ( or

wordwise) Literature and poetry