The Vocabulary-Enriched Classroom: Practices for Improving the Reading Performance of All Students in Grades 3 and Up

Article excerpt

Block, Cathy Collins and Mangieri, John N. (2006). The vocabulary-enriched classroom: Practices for improving the reading performance of all students in grades 3 and up. New York: Scholastic (Theory and Practice series). 224 pp. ISBN 0-439-73093-7.

This edited book will become dog-eared and stained from the frequent use teachers will give it in planning vocabulary study, working with students, and their professional development conversations. It is designed to be used collaboratively in study groups or book clubs among teachers, yet the authors urge readers "to use its contents as a framework from which to re-examine your own literacy-instruction practices" (p. 7). Each chapter begins with a vignette of a classroom, sometimes a brief narrative, sometimes a photograph, often both, and a question a teacher might have, such as "Have you ever put a word on the classroom board, say, vacation, and then asked the students to use the letters in that word to make other words?" (p. 36). Each chapter chronicles interactions between teacher and students in learning individual and groups of words, reading and talking, and each chapter ends with summative questions and prompts that call for application of the contents.

The four areas of vocabulary study: immersion in a vocabulary and literature rich environment, teaching individual words, learning and using strategies for building knowledge of words, and cultivating word consciousness turn up in a variety of practices for different kinds of students. One chapter describes vocabulary instruction and application with gifted and talented students, one explains approaches to working with struggling students, and one includes dialogue between the teacher and young people for whom English is a second language. …