Vocabulary Project

By: Taylor Bjerke

"Change your language and change your thoughts." --Karl Albrecht

Word Schema

'Knowing a word' involves a lot more than the definition. It means understanding its use in relation to the context, its variations, and your ability to make correct predictions about what the words means based on all of these elements.

Different Types of Vocabulary

  • General vocabulary is basically words used in everyday language, for example, the word 'pesky.'
  • Specialized vocabulary includes words that hold multiple meanings in different content areas, for example, the word 'loom.'
  • Technical vocabulary is made up of words that are specific to only one field of study, for example, 'Concerto' in music.

"Vocabulary is as unique to a content area as fingerprints are to a human being." -Vacca & Vacca, 1999


Hold up, this isn't science class! Lenz and Hughes (1990) came up with a word identification strategy to help students decode unknown words. This strategy is called DISSECT:

Discover the context
Isolate the prefix
Separate the suffix
Say the stem
Examine the stem
Check with someone for help
Try the dictionary for assistance
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What are the Qualities of Quality Instruction?

In their article, Academic Language in the Secondary Classroom, Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey discuss indicators of quality instruction in academic language. Some indicators of quality instruction in academic language include: teacher modeling, oral and written practice, having students interact with each other and with the content, and language supports (Fisher & Frey, p. 66).

"The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for." --Ludwig Wittgenstein

Author's Little Blurb: Using Knowledge to Guide Instruction

Being a reading concentration, vocabulary instruction is a big part of my future as an educator. This module, I was a little bit overwhelmed with the amount of readings we had, but as I read them, I found myself scribbling down notes and quotes and strategies that will all be applicable for my future. Some new strategies include bringing a social environment to vocabulary instruction. I absolutely love the idea of having students use dramatization in the classroom. I want my students to feel comfortable and interact with each other as well as with the content. The more interesting we make instruction, the more students are going to want to learn it, and they will be more able to absorb the information. I learned a lot about Tier 2 words as well. I did not really have a clear view of the difference between Tier 2 and Tier 3 words before this module, but now that I do, I plan to choose which of those Tier 2 words for my lessons carefully and strategically. Vocabulary is so essential to all content areas and this module did a great job of readying us to implement the skills and strategies we learned.

There is no 'one size fits all' approach to vocabulary instruction.

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Here are some of the sources I used, as well as some additional sources I find useful in regards to successful vocabulary instruction.

Taylor Bjerke

I am an Elementary Education major with a concentration in Reading. Go Pirates!