As a classroom teacher, I noticed that although my students were improving academically there was one area where even my top students were struggling; that area was vocabulary. My students were not scoring well. When I noticed that, knew there was something that I needed to do. That is when I began to research ways to improve my student’s vocabulary scores which meant that I needed to improve the way that I taught vocabulary. I started to be more intentional when planning vocabulary instruction and focused on it every day as a routine. The scores improved a little and students even retained and transferred the meaning of some of the words they learned. They still were not using the words in their own writing and speaking but that was another goal.
I found that reading aloud books — books that caught my attention, mostly narratives— gave me a way to introduce words to the students that they otherwise would never hear. “Read-aloud expose children to a multitude of new words.” (McKenzie, 2014) I would talk about the words before I read the book and sometimes while I was reading. I did this, it worked the students loved it and would want to read the books that I had read to them again and again, and again.
When I became an instructional specialist I remembered how my students loved to hear me read and found that using the read-aloud was a good way to teach a mini lesson to any child. That was when I decided to research how many different skills I could teach using it. I realized that I was on the right track when using the read-aloud to help with vocabulary instruction and that there was a way to introduce phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, and fluency. I can take those mini lessons and extend them into an activity or a simple anchor chart to help student remember the skills induced with the story I have read to them.
I am pursuing my doctorate and for the purposes of my research topic I am going back to my first love, vocabulary instruction. “Vocabulary development is one of the top areas of focus for a child to learn to read and a central goal for primary grade students.” (McKenzie, 2014) I am now researching ways to implement explicit vocabulary instruction with the use of the read-aloud as a tool along with graphic organizer, anchor charts, and other ways to help students develop knowledge of words. “Vocabulary development is dependent on vocabulary knowledge.” (McKenzie, 2014) I believe that this will build word consciousness in students and that students will learn to read, write, and speak the vocabulary words they have learned.
Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.
McKenzie, Ellen. "Vocabulary Development Using Visual Displays: Visual Displays Can
support Vocabulary Development In Unique And Creative Ways.". Dimensions
of Early Childhood Vol 42.No 2 (2014): 12-17. Print.
I am a Kindergarten – Second grade Instructional Specialist for the Dallas Independent School District. I work with kindergarten, first, and second grade teachers at 3 of Dallas’ IR (Improvement Required) and ACE (Accelerated Campus Excellence) elementary schools. My role as a specialist is to coach, mentor, and train the k-2 teachers at those campuses. I am a certified reading specialist but I also work with every core subject of the elementary grades. I have been in education for 19 years and have taught special education, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, & 5th grades. I have been an instructional specialist for the last 2 years.
Look. As an instructional specialist, I have been trained by educators who were a part of the Reading First Movement. A result of that training my love for the use of the read-aloud was revived. As a classroom teacher I used the read-aloud to introduce various key reading skills and modeled key reading strategies. In my work with teachers, I have noticed that teachers do not or very seldom use the read-aloud, even for the simply enjoyment of reading. I want to reintroduce the read-aloud to teachers. I am also noticing a lack of systematic vocabulary instruction. I have been reading and studying research from researchers like William Nagy and Judith Scott and want to train teachers on vocabulary processes using read-alouds as a tool to introduce and model this very critical comprehension skill.
Think. I have created some mini lessons with some of my favorite children's books that I use to model ways that teachers can teach vocabulary skills to their students. I have also gathered some resources that I can send to them if they want to plan their own mini lesson using the read-aloud book of their choice. I want to show them that there are various ways to teach basic reading skills so that they have more options than the Basal that they use day to day. I am also thinking about how I can do deeper research on the topic of using read-alouds to teach vocabulary acquisition.
Act. What I want to do is work with some of my teachers to model and train them on ways they can maximize their use of the read-aloud as a best practice in reading instruction. I want to do a study to see if my work with the teachers using the read-aloud can possibly increase students vocabulary acquisition. I would like to use teachers that are willing and who are already using this practice and compare them to teachers who are not (for whatever reason). I believe that using the read-aloud will help students increase their word knowledge at a rate that is faster than the student whose teachers are not already using this practice.
This excerpt is from a first draft of an article for my Reading Process course. I will update this excerpt.
Thank you for reading...
Pearl Garden, Ed.D has completed her dissertation research involving understanding the vocabulary instruction practices of early grade teachers. She has a passion for the new and novice educator, and it is her goal to help educators tackle the achievement gap with her research findings. She will use this blog to share what she has learned in “pearls of literacy”. The ideas come from her dissertation titled “A Content Analysis of the Vocabulary Instruction Habits by Early Grade Teachers”.