Vocabulary Instruction WV Title I Directors’ Conference March 10-12, 2009 Presented by Jane Massi
Four Types of Vocabulary Listening – Words we understand when others talk to us. Speaking – Words we use when we talk to others. Reading – Words we know when we see them in print (sight words and words we can decode). Writing – Words we use when we write.
Registers of Language • Frozen – Always the same • Formal – Standard syntax and word choice • Consultative – Not as formal, but standard in sentence use • Casual – Syntax incomplete • Intimate – Between lovers; twins (Joos, 1967).
Language Statistics • The number of words heard by children ages 1-3 • Welfare Households – 10 million • Working Class Households – 20 million • Professional Households – 30 million • (Graves & Slater, 1987)
Research on Vocabulary • Vocabulary knowledge is one of the best indicators of verbal ability, reading achievement and success in school. • Vocabulary difficulty strongly influences the readability of text. • Teaching vocabulary of a selection can improve students’ comprehension of that selection. (Beck, et al. 1992).
Research on Vocabulary • Growing up in poverty can seriously restrict the vocabulary that children learn before beginning school and makes attaining an adequate vocabulary a challenging task. • Disadvantaged students are likely to have substantially smaller vocabularies than their more advantaged peers. (Graves & Slater, 1987).
Research on Vocabulary • Lack of vocabulary can be a crucial factor underlying the school failure of disadvantaged students. • Students learn approximately 3,000 to 4,000 words each year, accumulating a reading vocabulary of approximately 18,000 words by the end of elementary school and 40,000 words by the end of high school. (Smith, 1941).
Research on Vocabulary • Some students learn an average of 8 words per day. Others learn as little as one or two. • Words can be known at different levels of understanding. • Directly teaching word meanings does not adequately reduce the gap between students with poor versus rich vocabularies. It is crucial for students to learn strategies for learning word meanings independently. (Miller, 1978).
Research on Vocabulary • The development of strong reading skills is the most effective word learning strategy available. However, those students who are in greatest need of vocabulary acquisition interventions tend to be the same students who read poorly and fail to engage in the amount of reading necessary to learn large numbers of words. [Matthew Effect] (Beck, et al. 2002).
Research on Vocabulary • One study found that out of 4, 469 minutes of reading instruction, only 19 minutes were devoted to direct vocabulary instruction.(Nagy, 1985) • Another study found that 3rd, 4th and 5th grade teachers spent an average of 1.67 minutes on vocabulary per reading lesson and that many teachers spent no time. (Hart & Risley, 1995)
Research on Vocabulary • Studies estimate that of 100 unfamiliar words met in reading, only 5-15 words are learned in context. (Nagy, et al. 1985) • Becoming interested and aware of words is not a likely outcome from the way instruction is typically handled, which is to have students look up definitions in a dictionary (Scott et al., 1998)
What can we do to solve this problem? • Make effective vocabulary instruction a high priority in the educational system. • Make vocabulary instruction robust, vigorous, strong and powerful to be effective.
So • Reading materials in schools equal 100,000 words. If students acquire 7-8 words a day = 40,000 they know by the end of high school, we cannot teach every word! Depth of learning would not occur.
Multiple Ways to Process New Words • Associate new words with known words. • Use new words in a sentence. • Match definitions to new words. • Use new words in different contexts. • Provide students with multiple exposures to new words.
When teaching vocabulary, DO • Teach new subject matter vocabulary in context BEFORE students’ initial reading of the new material. • Explain words in terms of relationships –word families, structural analysis, roots and affixes • Constantly direct students’ attention to the power of words and nuances of meaning
When teaching vocabulary, DO • Help the class foster a respect for the well-chosen word and the well-turned phrase. • Teach your students definite forms or patterns for succinctly stating definitions.
Vocabulary • Implicit vocabulary acquisition • When students engage in rich extensive oral interactions • When students are read to • When students read and discuss what they’ve read • Explicit vocabulary acquisition • Vocabulary activities specifically designed to teach new words
Vocabulary • Explicit vocabulary strategies • Use information and narrative texts • Promote thinking and extend discourse • Encourage use of novel words • Access to print • Semantic mapping • Teach word parts • Teach word origin (older students) • Use graphic organizers
When teaching vocabulary, DO NOT • Rely solely on incidental approaches; but avoid drill. • Teach roots, affixes in isolation. • Make definitions more difficult than the words to be defined. • Forget the different ways of approaching definitions – analogies, synonyms, antonyms, etc.
DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS • Do not give students lists of words to look up in a dictionary under the guise of vocabulary instruction. • This is only dictionary work, not vocabulary instruction. • Students learn the words for the test only.
DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS • Dictionaries use an Aristotelian format that includes: a genus (the class to which the word belongs) and a differentia (how the word differs from others in its class) • Example: fissure – a narrow opening (class) produced by cleaveage (differentia)
DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS • Scott and Nagy (1997) report the results of many research studies that show that students cannot use conventional definitions to learn words. • Example from dictionary: redress – set right, remedy. “King Arthur tried to redress wrongs in his kingdom” • Student writes: “The redress for getting well when you’re sick is to stay in bed.”
Dictionary Definitions • Weak Differentiation • Vague Language • A More Likely Interpretation • Multiple Pieces of Information
“Rare” Words • 50 % of text = 107 of the most common words • Another 45% of text = 5,000 words • So 95% of text = 5,107 words! • “Rare” words make up the remaining 5% = 83,000 words (Hayes & Ahrens, 1988)
“Rare” Words • “Rare” words carry most of the CONTENT of the text. The other 95% is the glue.
Context Limits • Context may provide some information. • Context may confuse the reader. • Multiple measures are necessary for context to be effective.
Four Levels of Context Usefulness • Direct: The dog bit the man; he screamed and yelled, “Ouch, ouch!” • General: My brother is a pest. He takes my pencil; he mimics my voice; he puts on my hat; he annoys me. • Non-directive: Not a morsel was left for the small mouse. • Misdirective: The leisurely pace of the class hike made Mary grumpy. (Beck,et al 1983)
Types of Semantic Clues • Definition – The vole, a small rodent, has a short tail. • Antonym – Sue was adroit but Bill was clumsy. • Synonym – The soup was hot—scalding, in fact. • Example – Periwinkle was her favorite color. • General – The room was disheveled. Clothes were dirty, dishes were everywhere. Chairs were overturned and trash littered the floor. • Series – Would you like cake, peach pie, or a flan? • Mood – The day was dull and dark. Clouds hung low and a feeling of melancholy was everywhere. • Experience – A pair of crows cawed raucously. • Expression – He was famished as a bear coming out of hibernation.
What makes vocabulary instruction robust? • A robust approach to vocabulary instruction involves directly explaining the meanings of words along with thought-provoking, playful and interactive follow-up.
Bringing Words to Life by Isabel Beck, Margaret McKeown, and Linda Kucan Three Tiers of Vocabulary Tier One *Rarely require instructional attention *Consist of basic words *Examples: baby, clock, happy, walk, jump, hop, slide, girl, boy, dog
Bringing Words to Life by Isabel Beck, Margaret McKeown, and Linda Kucan Three Tiers of Vocabulary Tier Three *Made of words whose frequency of use is quite low and often limited to specific domains. *Best learned when a specific need arises *Examples: isotope, lathe, peninsula, refinery
Bringing Words to Life by Isabel Beck, Margaret McKeown, and Linda Kucan Three Tiers of Vocabulary Tier Two *Contain high frequency words that are found across a variety of domains *Have a powerful impact on verbal functioning *Must be words students have ways to express the meaning of the word. *Examples: coincidence, absurd, industrious, merchant
Bringing Words to Life by Isabel Beck, Margaret McKeown, and Linda Kucan Three Tiers of Vocabulary Selecting Tier Two Words *Is it a useful word? *Will the student encounter it again? *Does the word relate to other words or ideas? *Will it enhance further learning?
Lesson Plan for Tier Two WordsRead the following third/fourth grade paragraph. Johnny Harrington was a kind master who treated his servants fairly. He was also a successful wool merchant and his business required that he travel often. While he was gone, his servants would tend to the fields and maintain the upkeep of his mansion. They performed their duties happily, for they felt fortunate to have such a benevolent and trusting master. (Kohnke, 2001)
Lesson Plan for Tier Two Words • Work with a partner to do this activity. • Read the paragraph and identify 5 Tier Two words. (Reminder: Tier Two words are words that students should have an understanding of their meaning.) • Make a list of your 5 words and define them using vocabulary that a student would use.
For thousands of years, sinuous strips of bituminous coal have lain beneath the wooded hills and valleys of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Coal lured immigrants to the area in the 1800’s, and helped forge their reputation for hard work and hard living. For generations, men have earned their livelihoods—and all too often have lost their lives—in the mines’ dark confines. (Reader’s Digest, “Nine Alive! Inside the Amazing Mine Rescue”, November 2002, pg. 164)
Word Knowledge Continuum(Beck, et.al) • No knowledge • General Sense • Narrow Context-Bound knowledge • Some knowledge but limited recall • Rich, Decontextualized knowledge
Dictionary Definitions • What it means to really know a word. Smoke – Random House Verb – “to inhale and puff the smoke of a cigarette, etc.” • He smoked a cigarette. • The psychologist smoked a pipe. • The hippie smoked a marijuana joint. • The ten-year-old smoked his first cigarette.
Vocabulary Words • bidding • card • major • minor • distributional • tatty • devoid
The prime object of bidding is to locate an eight-card or better major suit fit. On this deal, each player held a four-card major, neither bid it and both were right! North correctly responded to his partner’s opening bid in his five-card minor, not four-card major. With a hand devoid of any distributional feature and a tatty four-card suit, South bypassed his major in favor of bidding one no trump. When North raised, South’s 14 points and good intermediates justified going on to game. Excerpt taken from “Bridge” by Omar Sharif and Tannah Hirsch in the Charleston Gazette on August 2, 2007
A hair raising century by Australian opener Graeme Wood on Friday set England back on its heels in the third test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Unfortunately, living desperately cost the Australians the match. Wood was caught out of his crease on the first over after lunch. Within ten more overs, the Australians were dismissed. Dangerous running between creases dismissed four. Two were dismissed when the English bowlers lifted the bails from the batsmen’s wickets. English fieldsmen caught the three remaining batsmen. One was caught as he tried for a six. When the innings were complete, the Australians had fallen short of the runs scored by the English. (reprinted with written permission from Brookline Books, P.O. Box 1209 Brookline MA 02445)
References Beck, Isabel L., Margaret G. McKeown, and Linda Kucan. 2002. Bringing Words to Life. New York: The Guilford Press. Beck, Isabel L., C.A. Perfetti, and Margaret McKeown. 1992. The Effects of Long-term Vocabulary Instruction on Lexical Access and Reading Comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74(4), 506-521. Graves, Michael F. and Wayne H. Slater. 1987. The Development of Reading Vocabularies in Rural Disadvantaged Students, Inner City Disadvantaged Students, and Middle-class Suburban Students. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Washington, D.C. Hart, Betty, and Todd Risley. 1995. Meaningful Differences. Baltimore: Brookes Co.
References, continued Hayes, Donald P., and M. G. Ahrens. 1988. Vocabulary Simplification for Children. Journal of Child Language. 15: 395-410. Joos, Martin. 1964. Language and the School Child. Harvard Educational Review, 34, 203-210. Miller, George A. 1978. Semantic Relations Among Words. In Halle, Bresnan, & Miller, Eds. LinguisticTtheory and Psychological Reality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Nagy, William E., P.A. Herman, and R.C. Anderson. 1985. Learning Words fromContext. Reading Research Quarterly, 19, 304-330. National Reading Panel Report, 2000. Washington, D.C.:National Institute for Literacy
Jane A. Massi firstname.lastname@example.org