Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction

Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction

Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction

Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction


Exciting and engaging vocabulary instruction can set students on the path to a lifelong fascination with words. This book provides a research-based framework and practical strategies for vocabulary development with children from the earliest grades through high school. The authors emphasize instruction that offers rich information about words and their uses and enhances students' language comprehension and production. Teachers are guided in selecting words for instruction; developing student-friendly explanations of new words; creating meaningful learning activities; and getting students involved in thinking about, using, and noticing new words both within and outside the classroom. Many concrete examples, sample classroom dialogues, and exercises for teachers bring the material to life. Helpful appendices include suggestions for trade books that help children enlarge their vocabulary and/or have fun with different aspects of words.


For each of us authors, our attachment to words is an important driving force in the work represented in this book. Our own engagement with language spurred us to set goals for students that included depth of understanding, facility of use, and eagerness for word opportunities. So we thought it fitting to begin this book by each sharing a chapter from our own [verbal biographies]—our personal history as word learners. The narratives below reveal something about how vocabulary captured our attention and became important in our lives.

Isabel L. Beck

I remember learning the word earnest: it was in the fourth grade, and a character had been described as earnest. Miss Cohney, my teacher, talked about what it meant to be earnest and called on us to think of people we knew who were earnest and what they did that made them earnest. Clearly, earnest was a [good] word and the seed to my owning it took root. It impressed me deeply to think about earnest behavior and earnest people. I wanted to be earnest myself.

At about the time I learned about earnest, I began to notice that other people were catching on to it, too. I started noticing the word in newspapers and even overheard it in a conversation. It was amazing to me that I was somehow part of a group of people across the country who had simultaneously discovered the word earnest! That experience was an important milestone in my fascination with . . .

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