Transcript Slide 1

Teaching academic
vocabulary, part 2
November 2, 2009
Check out the wiki at
Some scary facts…
• Vocabulary acquisition has … been found to be a high
predictor of reading comprehension. Biemiller and Slonim
(2001) reported that students who were behind in vocabulary
knowledge in third grade would remain behind throughout the duration
of their schooling.
• Biemiller and Slonim found that students in grade 2 in the
highest quartile of vocabulary knowledge acquired an average
of 7,100 root words and students in the lowest quartile an
average of 3,000 root words. The authors noted that the lower
quartile children could be brought up to grade level, but to do so would
take extensive vocabulary instruction and most schools do not promote
such programs.
from “Instruction of Metacognitive Strategies Enhances Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary Achievement of
Third-Grade Students” by Regina Boulware-Gooden, Suzanne Carreker, Ann Thornhill, and R. Malatesha Joshi
Reading Rockets (2007)
More scary facts…
DOTS chart
• Fill in topic: “Vocabulary”
• Think about terms, ideas, associations you
have with this topic. As you think of them,
fill them in in the appropriate space—e.g.
“words” goes under “w”.
• You have about 2 minutes. GO!!
• Now look at your neighbor’s paper. See
anything you like? Write it down on your
extended mapping
deep knowledge
Do you see any connections you can make to words you have written
and these target words? Draw lines between them, and be prepared
to draw more as we read on.
And now to the reading
• As you read, draw more connections on
your DOTS chart.
• When finished reading, talk with your
neighbor about the connections you made
to the parts of the chart.
• Then write a few sentences using one or
more of the target words.
• Determine what I know (before lesson)
• Observe and make connections to what I
am learning from teacher/text (during)
• Talk to peers (during)
• Summarize what I have learned (after)
Dale’s levels of knowing words
• I’ve never seen the word before
• I’ve heard the word, but I don’t know what
it means
• I recognize it in context and know that it is
connected to _______ (words or concept)
[I think the word is related to…]
• I know the word and can use it
appropriately. [I know the word…]
Ideas from Blachowicz et al.
• Receptive vocabulary exceeds expressive
• 2 stages of word learning:
– Assign word to broad semantic category
– Make distinctions within semantic category
• Goals of vocabulary program:
– Expand receptive and expressive vocabularies
– Move words from receptive to expressive
– Provide opportunities to acquire deep knowledge
Ideas from Beck et al.
• Goal of vocabulary instruction:
– Students know target words when reading
them in a text
– Students can recall words well enough to use
them in speech or writing
• Measuring word knowledge: synonym
matching or multiple choice is not enough
and may indicate only a superficial
Ideas from Partnership for Reading
• Four types of word learning
– Known word, new meaning (“branch”)
– Known concept, new word (“sphere”)
– New concept, new word (“photosynthesis”)
– Known word, enriched meaning (“jogging”)
• These types all fit in with Tier 2-kinds of
Back to Tier 2 words…
• High frequency—high utility—found across a
variety of domains
• Good instructional potential—can work with
them in a variety of ways
• Students already have a general idea of the
concept—you’re giving them a more precise
term for it
• …and now that you know what you now know
about “knowing” a word…
• What would be your Tier 2 words for that
science curriculum area from last time?
What a wonderful world!
Just imagine—everyone working together to teach
target words to our kids!
• Other studies (Baumann, Kamme’enui, & Ash, 2003;
Ryder & Graves, 1994) have found that basal reader
series are providing students with definitional and
contextual knowledge for words. But the selected words are
often already known by the students, and instructional
recommendations fail to provide opportunities for depth of
• Scott et al. (2003) found that classroom vocabulary
instruction was generally superficial and that students had
minimal opportunities to actively engage in elaborative
processing. Students were not situated to form
relationships between known and unknown words, to
relate them to prior or novel experiences, to develop
concept maps, or to build semantic connections. (Stahl,
1999a; Stahl & Nagy, 2005).
From “ Improving the asphalt of reading instruction: A tribute to the work of Steven A. Stahl” by Katherine A. Dougherty Stahl
© 2005 International Reading Association (pp. 184–192)
• One study showed that explicit instruction
of vocabulary in the third, fourth, and fifth
grades occurred on average for 1.67
minutes a day, or about 100 seconds of
vocabulary instruction.
from “Putting the Pieces of the Puzzle Together: How Systematic Vocabulary Instruction and Expanded LearningTime Can
Address the Literacy Gap” by Claire E. White and James S. Kim, Center for American Progress, May 2009
…with these
• Third grade: low-income
kids reading at or above
grade level in all
reading areas
• By the end of fifth
grade: one grade level
behind in word meaning
(GE = 4.8).
• By seventh grade, the
mean score on word
knowledge was nearly
three grade equivalents
below the national norm
of 7.9 GEs.
…downright terrifying…
The decline in vocabulary scores may underlie the difficulties that
low-income children and English language learners confront on
standardized tests of reading comprehension in the upper elementary
and middle-school grades. It may be safe to say that a great part of the
literacy gap on assessments such as NAEP is in fact a vocabulary gap.
Children can appear to be good readers because they are able to decode
words, but they are unable to answer comprehension questions.
This is because they have not learned or been taught the kinds of
words that are essential for understanding texts and tests.
from “Putting the Pieces of the Puzzle Together: How Systematic Vocabulary Instruction and Expanded LearningTime Can
Address the Literacy Gap” by Claire E. White and James S. Kim, Center for American Progress, May 2009
What can we do?
• Systematic vocabulary instruction throughout the
school day, in every content area
– Interventions that specifically target vocabulary
learning have shown promising results for at-risk
• Assess student knowledge and target the right
words during instruction
– Educators can’t teach the sheer number of words
struggling readers need to know. So we must
carefully target words and explicitly teach them
across content areas.
from “Putting the Pieces of the Puzzle Together: How Systematic Vocabulary Instruction and Expanded LearningTime Can
Address the Literacy Gap” by Claire E. White and James S. Kim, Center for American Progress, May 2009
How many words to teach?
• Beck et al. suggest around 400 per year
• How does that average out per week,
across content areas? Talk to your
neighbors about this.
And on to math vocabulary…
• How would you teach these terms:
– Even if it rains tomorrow, our football team will
face the opponent. The two teams are pretty
even. One difference is that their team was
last year’s state champion. We think that the
weather will be an important factor in the
game’s outcome.
You can see the problem…
From “Designing Vocabulary Instruction in Mathematics” by
Margaret E. Pierce and L. Melena Fontaine. Reading Teacher November 2009
Problems with understanding math
In order to understand mathematics, students must:
learn many content-specific vocabulary words (quotient, equivalent, divisor).
know the meaning of many complex phrases (least common multiple, greatest common
understand that many common English words have unique meanings in mathematics (bring
down, tree, face, plane, cone, net, positive, negative).
understand that prepositions (by, with, to, into, from, etc.) are used in a variety of ways in
word problems to signal operations. (divided by vs divided into)
know the meaning of prefixes and suffixes (hept-, tri-, bi-, poly-, -gon, - lateral).
understand unique mathematical sentence constructions (If x = 5, then …).
understand statements and questions that are written in passive voice (twenty is divided by
know that mathematical operations are associated with many different words.
Addition: add, plus, and, combine, sum, total of, more than, increased by, greater than
Subtraction: subtract, minus, less, less than, fewer than, decreased by, difference, lower, take away,
from, shorter
Multiplication: multiply, times, product, as a factor, twice, double, triple, groups of
Division: divide, divided by, quotient, separated into equal groups, shared equally, over, into, how many
Equal: is, are, result, make
from “Mathematics and English Language Learners in Elementary School: A Review of the Literature” by Jo Lynn
Suell, Rebecca Miller, Paul R. Province.
…not to mention…
• Lack of context
• No attention paid to background
knowledge of student
from “Just what is the academic language of math?” by Suzanne Irujo
• Francis et al. (2006), after an extensive
review of the literature on teaching math to
ELLs, arrived at this conclusion:
Academic language is as central to mathematics as it is to
other academic areas. It is a significant source of difficulty
for many ELLs who struggle with mathematics. ... [T]he oral
and written language of mathematics—or the mathematics
register—should be ... explicitly integrated into the
curriculum. (pp. 37-38)
from “Just what is the academic language of math?” by Suzanne Irujo
From Burns: steps in teaching math
1. Identify vocabulary to be taught
2. Introduce after developing understanding of math
3. Explain by linking meaning to students’ learning
4. Have students pronounce words
5. Write new vocabulary on a class “math words” chart
6. Have students keep their own lists of math words
7. Use vocabulary repeatedly
8. Encourage student use of vocabulary
From About Teaching Mathematics: A K-8 Resource, 3rd Edition by Marilyn Burns, 2007
Final activity: Magic books!
• Take smaller paper (1/2 of a regular sheet
of construction paper). Fold hot dog, cut in
• Larger paper: Fold hamburger-hamburgerhamburger-hamburger (total of 16 squares
when finished). Open all the way.
center fold
•Fold once hamburger.
•From the fold, cut along the 3
creases towards the crease
that parallels the fold line.
•Stop at this crease.
cut on red lines
• Open paper.
• Weave 2 strips through the
• Write a term in a square on the top
• Write the definition in the next square.
• Write an example in the third.
Join 2 numbers
…and now for the magic…
• Accordion-fold the book to make an “m”.
• Flip it over so that it’s a “w”.
• Carefully pull apart the middle peak of the
w—open and—it’s magic! The words
have disappeared!
How to use the magic books
• Have students study with each other—
buddies can call out terms and definitions
to each other.
• Play quiz-quiz-switch once they’ve got the
definitions under control: take turns
quizzing, then switch partners.