Why Teach Vocabulary?
Vocabulary is one of the five pillars of reading comprehension as set forth in No Child Left Behind legislation. Reading comprehension depends upon the meaning readers give words. The more vocabulary words students know, the better they are able to comprehend. A large vocabulary opens students up to a wider range of reading materials. A rich vocabulary also improves students' ability to communicate through speaking, listening, and writing.
Researchers have stated that vocabulary deficiencies are a primary cause of academic failure in grades 3 through 12 (Baumann and Kameenui 1991; Stanovich 1986; Becker 1977). These researchers profess that direct and explicit instruction of a set number of vocabulary words will improve academic success in all content areas. Stahl and Fairbanks (1986) suggest that teaching students 350 words each year may improve learning by as much as 10 to 30%. Further, in 1982, Beck, Perfetti, and McKeown found that students who were given direct instruction in word meanings were better able to discern the meanings of untaught words than control subjects.
Though no particular method for teaching vocabulary has been identified as best (Beck and McKeown 1991), a number of instructional strategies such as identifying synonyms and antonyms, providing examples and nonexamples, and relating words to one's own life, have yielded growth in students' vocabulary. For these reasons, Vocabulary A-Z has developed a five-day vocabulary teaching plan that focuses on teaching words based on context and meaning, not memorization.
The following resources were invaluable in developing the program and philosophy
Allen, Janet. Words, Words, Words: Teaching Vocabulary in Grades 4-12 . Portland: Stenhouse Publishers, 1999.
Beck, Isabel L., Margaret G. McKeown, and Linda Kucan. Bringing Words To Life . New York: The Guilford Press, 2002.
Ellery, Valerie. Creating Strategic Readers . Newark: International Reading Association, Inc., 2005.
Langer, Judith A., and Victoria Purcell-Gates. "Knowledge and Comprehension: Helping Students Use What They
Marzano, Robert J. Stet, and Debra J. Pickering.
Building Academic Vocabulary Teacher's Manual
Tompkins, Gail E., and Cathy Blanchfield.
Teaching Vocabulary: 50 Creative Strategies, Grades K-12
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