The Power of Vocabulary~Back to School Revue

Today's Back to School Revue is all about increasing student success with vocabulary instruction.Vocabulary is such an integral part of student success. It impacts comprehension, expression, and most certainly test taking success! Vocabulary instruction is even more vital for English Language Learners or students from lower income homes. Research shows that there is a dramatic disparity between lower & higher SES students when it comes to vocabulary.

"Consider the following results from some seminal studies in the field:
  • First-grade children from higher SES groups know about twice as many words as lower SES children (Graves, Brunetti, & Slater, 1982; Graves & Slater, 1987).
  • High school seniors near the top of their class know about four times as many words as their lower-performing classmates (Smith, 1941).
  • High performing third graders had vocabularies about equal to the lowest-performing twelfth graders (Smith, 1941).
The end result is that enriched environments promote vocabulary development. Good readers read more, which in turn helps them become even better readers with even larger vocabularies. Poor readers read less, which contributes to their becoming poorer readers with more limited vocabularies. In effect, “the rich readers get richer and the poor readers get poorer.”" (O'Hara & Pritchard, 2009).

And what's even more scary? Many scholars believe that, once established, differences in vocabulary knowledge are difficult to eliminate and as a result continue to manifest themselves as students move through school (Coyne, Simmons, & Kame’enui, 2004; Hart & Risley, 1995).

Yikes! Take a deep breath!

This year, I am going to focus even more so on vocabulary instruction. I use a couple different strategies in my classroom: for those Tier 3 words, I really like F is For First Grade's Teaching Vocabulary with Picture Books-A Year's Worth of Lessons.

I like that it uses picture books that we all already use for read alouds. It pulls those Tier 3 words right from those books. I also pull in some Marzano....we post the words & play games with them weekly.


Speaking of Marzano....one of the hallmarks of vocabulary instruction is using graphic organizers. Marzano recommends vocab organizers include:
  • the word
  • student-generated definition
  • visual representation 
  • synonym, antonym, or non-example of the word.
You'll find this kind of organizer in my Vocabulary Strategy Pack. I also pulled out specific strategies kiddos can use to help the figure out an unfamiliar word. Help kiddos learn to use:
  • Picture clues
  • Prior knowledge
  • Context clues
  • Word parts
  • If all else fails...the dictionary!
So these take care of Tier 3 words and general academic vocabulary words......but what about those oh-so-important TEST PREP VOCABULARY?! I was SO excited to find this pack: Adventure's in Room 129's Vocabulary Voyage. This is also a full-year set up....94 test prep words, in addition to the vocab stuff (my technical term! haha!), each word has a sample test question that uses that word.

This activity is designed to introduce 5 words a week and then reintroduce those same 5 words the next week. The first week, the students learn how to read the words and define them. The next week the students go over those same words but practice answering standardized test questions that have those words in them!

And the best part? It's practically all set up for you!
Just print, laminate, make the copies, & you're ready to go! 

These vocab packs are powerful ways to boost not just your kiddos vocabulary....but their comprehension, expression, and their success in testing situations!