Vocabulary Project

The Power of Words in the 21st Century


Shift 6: Academic Vocabulary Video

In this video, I learned that vocabulary instruction done in the classroom should be deliberately decided on by the teacher of the words that should be focused on that will benefit the students’ academic development. Vocabulary that the teacher chooses for instruction should be Tier 2 and Tier 3 words that are used in high- frequency and the students will continue to see as they progress through each grade level. (Shift 6: Academic Vocabulary video)

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Increasing Academic Language Knowledge for English Language Learner Success

Clear instruction is needed when teaching all students, but especially English Language Learners. It is important that instruction is enhanced for the learners. When teachers are trying to educate ELL learners with new vocabulary, a few steps should be taken to optimize student learning.

- First, the teacher should go over the new academic words with the students (and this could be a good time to access prior knowledge (Robertson, 215).

- Second, the teacher should take time to record the vocabulary words (or sentences in which the vocabulary words will be used) in front of the class. At this time, students should be given the opportunity to transfer the words onto cards (Robertson, 2015).

- Third, the teacher should provide these students with pictorial representations, a small skit performance, or other words that relate to the vocabulary words. Various ways of expressing vocabulary words is beneficial for students to gain meaning of them (Robertson 2015).

- Fourth, the teacher should have the students to show creativity and show pictorial illustrations representing the vocabulary words, create their own skit performance, or use the vocabulary words in another context of their own (Robertson, 2015)

Teaching Vocabulary to English Language Learners

Improving Adolescent Literacy: Content Area Strategies at Work

Words that contain numerous and compound meanings can prove to be really confusing to any student, but especially English Language Learners who are new to the English language (so adding on various meanings can be really baffling). In our class text, Improving Adolescent Literacy, it is said that “instruction must include pointing out such words and then using them in a variety of texts” (Fisher & Frey, 2016). Because it is a big possibility that ELL students will be very inexperienced and unfamiliar with English text, it is important that teacher provides a diverse set of texts for them (and all students) because students will be able to show their preferences and strengths/weaknesses through certain text to make the teacher aware of this for future teaching practices.

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Content-Area Vocabulary: A Critical Key to Conceptual Learning

Vocabulary Instruction (PEAR approach): Before this class, I had never heard of this approach to learning vocabulary, and I thought that it was the perfect summation of how vocabulary should be taught (after reading through the other article readings)

o Preparation, Explanation, Application, Reinforcement

P is for Preparation: This stage requires the teacher to choose the academic language that the students should learn and that need to be explicitly taught in instruction. The teacher should only devote attention on the most important words to have the students recognize because an overabundance of words can burden a student for one day’s lesson. It is appropriate for the teacher to determine students’ prior familiarity before instruction to know where to exactly start the learning process.

E is for Explanation: This stage requires the teacher to officially know the academic language that she be taught, and when presenting the language to the students, it should be described in the most ‘kid-friendly,’ comprehensible language possible.

A is for Application: This stage requires the teacher to create relevant and relatable activities for the students to participate in. In my opinion, I view this step of the PEAR process to incorporate the upscale thinking skills of Bloom’s Taxonomy, where the students will move their knowledge of the vocabulary to a completely different scenario and situation.

R is for Reinforcement: This stage requires the teacher to give a formal or informal assessment on the academic language that was learned. A beneficial activity that the teacher could plan for the students is a thought-provoking writing prompt for the students to exhibit their understanding.

Chapter 1 of the Struggling Reader

A common interpretation disability that affects people of any age level is known as dyslexia. Dyslexia after over half of Americans, and I thought that this was very enlightening to know because by learning that this, I can understand that some students reading abilities will not be because they are mentally challenged, but physical impairments can truly have an impact learning abilities as well.

- In the human brain, a lower-thinking skill is used when a student is able to decode words and learn how to pronounce them within a reading. When a person reads, higher-thinking skills are exerted when the student must comprehend what is being read.

- Three segments of the human brain help us with being able to read text. The three segments are:

o Inferior Frontal Gyrus: helps us with our pronunciation of words

o Parieto-Temporal: helps us to pronounce the resounds we hear in letters when said

o Occipito-Temporal: helps us with word automaticity when encountering words in text

I thought that this information was insightful because this is good background for teachers to consider why some students may typically struggle with their reading skills.
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Academic Language in the Secondary Classroom

In this article, I learned how vital it is for teachers to educate students on how to use and understand academic language because “Teachers and administrators recognize that students must be able to understand and use the languages of academic disciplines to explain, debate, and persuade” (Fisher & Frey, 2011). When teachers make sure that students have the proper instruction to learn academic language, that means that they are appropriately preparing students to become successful and independent thinkers in the 21st century (which I feel should be one of the high-priority goals of teachers). It is imperative for teachers to educate students on how to use words to express their ideas and to become intellectual scholars.

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Because I am a Reading concentration (and am pursuing to receive my Reading license), I will implement some of the strategies of:

Vocabulary Cards: This strategy can help visual learners, plus the information about the vocabulary word is in various forms (the vocabulary word, definition, symbol (graphic), and a sentence with the vocabulary word), so the student has options to choose which forms helps them remember the information in an efficient manner.

o Improving Adolescent Literacy textbook (p. 74)

- Padlet: Padlet is another form of a Word Wall, but it can also be a space where teacher can pose questions, videos, pictures, and other objects. Padlet can be a form of a chat room/discussion board for students to interact. Because the teacher can pose a range of different material, students can answer questions, respond to thoughts on videos or pictures, or have a classroom-wide conversation. Using Padlet can help promote technology use in the classroom (which is relevant to 21st century students).

- Wordle: By using Wordle, the student can show creativity and create a collage of words that have a relation (this can show the teacher what the student knows—and how they are making connections, along with showing the teacher what she needs to do if the student needs help).

o Quote from Content-Area Vocabulary: A Critical Key to Conceptual Learning “Words representing concepts are not taught in a vacuum, but rather in contexts that illustrate how they are associated with other words and ideas. This feature of word knowledge is at the heart of effective content-area teaching and critical to vocabulary building”

- Word Wall: seeing essential vocabulary words can really help all students, but especially visual learners and ELL students. Pictures can be included beside each word for those who need graphics to learn and remember information

o Improving Adolescent Literacy book (p. 66)

“ Word of the Week” Idea: Each week, the teacher can have a different word of the week (either one word, or a word of the week for each subject). This concept can help students really focus on the important vocabulary chosen by the teacher, and by working through one word at a time for each week, the student really has time to learn about the word and have repeated exposure well enough to start applying this vocabulary word to their daily language. A “word of the week” idea would really help to build student vocabulary, and besides simply going over the meaning of the word each day, the teacher could organize various activities for the students to engage in that have meaning to them, such as plays, vocabulary cards, writing prompts (with different scenarios, etc.

I did not find this idea in a reading article or class resource, but as I was brainstorming, I came up with this idea, and I thought that it would be a creative way to help children learn different vocabulary words throughout the school year.

*Ideas of ‘Padlet’ and ‘Wordle’ come from "21 Digital Tools to Build Vocabulary" link under the Examples and Resources folder.

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My Padlet Webpage- Alexis Abbott

During the summer of 2015, I made a Padlet webpage design as an assignment idea for an online course and interactive activity for students to engage in. This activity would be used (in a health lesson) just to get students' ideas and initial thoughts about how they think about assisting others, and the students could relate the concept to superheroes (which is an idea that they are familiar with).
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My Word Garden

Last semester, when I taught three Language Arts lessons to second grade students, my teaching group and I made a "Word Garden" to act as our word wall because we were teaching three different concepts of Language Arts, which were: Poetry, Informational Text, and Fact/Opinion. The bud of the flower represented the main concept of the lesson, and each petal of the flower were the vocabulary words that related to that particular concept.
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Knowledge of Tier 2 Words

In this module, I have learned about how consistently Tier 2 words appear in multiple types of texts. Tier 2 words also appear in more than one subject area. As a future teacher, this information is important to me because it will be essential that I expose my students to text that contain similar Tier 2 words across various contexts. As school students start to see vocabulary words regularly, students will become accustomed to them (along with their meanings), and that is how vocabulary skills can be heightened for students.

Along with the high occurrence of Tier 2 words in different types of text, I also learned that it is important not to overwhelm students with teaching a great amount of Tier 2 vocabulary words at once. In Module 2, I learned that not all Tier 2 words that appear in a text are of the same significance (to be taught to students), so it is important that teachers take the time to purposely, yet consciously plan the academic words that they view as being worth investing ample time in to make sure that students understand what they mean. In addition, not all Tier 2 vocabulary words will be worthwhile for students to learn, so the teacher must distinguish between the usefulness of certain vocabulary words as well. Because I will be specialized in Reading education when I graduate, these pointers will be helpful for when I am planning my own instruction in my classroom. This information is specifically telling me the approach I should take when teaching vocabulary, which will be an important aspect in my classroom.

In my future classroom, I can make use of Bloom's Taxonomy as a reference guide when planning vocabulary instruction to make sure that the students engage in activities that require higher-order thinking with the vocabulary words (through creating, evaluating, and analyzing).

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The evidence from the module readings indicate...

The evidence from the module readings indicate that it is imperative that students have a chance to communicate with their fellow peers when learning academic vocabulary and when learning in general. The article, 8 Strategies for Teaching Academic Language, instructs to “…do not ban informal communication from the classroom, because this relaxed discourse is critical for social bonding, cooperative learning, interpreting literature and information processing” (Finley, 2014). Although students must move towards speaking academic language in the classroom, conversations with peers and the teacher still have an impact in the learning process, and even before discussions with academic language can take place, students must feel comfortable talking with one another in order to build a positive sense of community. The importance of interaction can also be read in the Academic Language in the Secondary Classroom. In this article, it is stated that “The quality indicators for academic language instruction include exposure to academic language as well as opportunities to practice the language with others, including peers” (Fisher & Frey, 2011). The Chapter 1. The Struggling Reader article states that: “Learning is a social process, and adolescents are social creatures who like to talk and interact with their peers” (Tankersley, 2016). This Vocabulary Module has stressed the importance of collaboration in the classroom from student to student and teacher to teacher, so I need to include a lot of opportunities for students to share and express thoughts with me and each other in the classroom.

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In my discipline this is important because...

In my discipline this is important because as I am pursuing a Reading license, it will be imperative that my students learn how to use words in order to form structure sentences together and to express ideas. If students engage in intellectual conversations with one another through academic vocabulary, they can help each other build on vocabulary and learn multiple words. Also, as a teacher, I can interact with my students to help with their learning of educational language. In the Increasing Exposure to Academic Language by Speaking It article, it is said that “For teachers to increase exposure to academic language, it’s important that they develop a mind-set in which they see almost any verbal interaction as an opportunity for developing academic language” (Himmele & Himmele, 2009).

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In my classroom, I want to provide the students with resources, such as a word wall and other vocabulary activities for students to see that words are to be used as a 'toolbox' to help us communicate with other people.

Some things I still need to explore...

Some things I still need to explore are more techniques that can be used to help English Language Learners. In addition to ELL’s, I need to explore how to teach students with other disabilities as well in order to help them reach utmost success in the classroom. In my classroom, I want to make sure that I have an appropriate amount of parent involvement. I not want the child to know that I care about their success, but I think it is important for the parents to know that I care about their child’s success as well. Building healthy relationships among students and their parents can really help to promote a community feeling and make the best learning experiences possible. The parents of school students can help the teacher learn about the students, and what the parents can do is provide information to the teacher about what makes their child feel comfortable in a different environment (especially if the child is not originally from the United States).

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Reference List

Finley, T. (2014). 8 Strategies for teaching academic language. What works in education. George Lucas Educational Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/8-strategies-teaching-academic-language-todd-finley

Fisher, D., Frey, N. (2011). Academic language in the secondary classroom. Principal Leadership, 11(6), 64-66.

Fisher, D., Frey, N. (2015). Improving adolescent literacy: Content area strategies at work. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson.

Harmon, J., Wood, K. (2008). Content-area vocabulary: A critical key to conceptual learning. Advancing. Advancing Adolescent Literacy Instruction Together. Retrieved from http://ohiorc.org/adlit/inperspective/issue/2008-10/Article/feature.aspx

Himmele, P. Himmele, W. (2009). Increasing exposure to academic language by speaking it. The language-rich classroom: A research-based framework for teaching English language learners. Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Tankersley, K. (2005). Literacy strategies for grades 4-12: Reinforcing the threads of reading. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Tyson, K. (2013). 21 Digital tools to build vocabulary. Retrieved from http://www.learningunlimitedllc.com/2013/02/20-digital-tools-for-vocabulary/

Robertson, K. (2015). Increasing academic language knowledge for english language learner success. ¡Colorín colorado! Retrieved from http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/increasing-academic-language-knowledge-english-language-learner-success