Words, Words, Words: Teaching Vocabulary in Grades 4-12

Words, Words, Words: Teaching Vocabulary in Grades 4-12

Words, Words, Words: Teaching Vocabulary in Grades 4-12

Words, Words, Words: Teaching Vocabulary in Grades 4-12


Do you spend hours creating word lists and weekly vocabulary tests only to find that your students have "forgotten" the words by the following week? Janet Allen and her students were frustrated with the same problem. Words, Words, Words describes the research that changed the way she and many other teachers teach vocabulary. It offers educators practical, research-based solutions for helping students fall into new language, learn new words, and begin to use those words in their speaking and writing lives. This book offers teachers detailed strategy lessons in the following areas:activating and building background word knowledge;making word learning meaningful and lasting;building concept knowledge;using word and structural analysis to create meaning;using context as a text support;making reading the heart of vocabulary instruction. Words, Words, Words provides educators with a strong research base, detailed classroom-based lessons, and graphic organizers to support the strategy lessons. At a time when teachers are struggling to meet content standards in reading across the curriculum, this book offers some practical solutions for meeting those standards in ways that are meaningful and lasting.


[When I use a word,] Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, [it means
just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.]

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

Most of us approach language a bit like Carroll's Humpty Dumpty does. We know what we want to say but often struggle to find just the right words. The title of this chapter arises from that dilemma. Once while I was visiting Kyle Gonzalez's classroom in Orlando, one of her students boldly announced that he would like to [diaphragm that sentence.]

As teachers we not only feel responsible for our own use of language, we also feel compelled to focus on vocabulary study so that our students are exposed to rich, expressive language. For secondary teachers, the academic proving ground that looms most closely for our students is the SAT, but all teachers have to deal with state- or districtmandated tests. However, most teachers have goals larger than having their students do well on those tests. They want to involve their students in productive vocabulary instruction because they know the value of well-chosen words. Unfortunately, vocabulary instruction is one of those educational arenas in which research and best practice are elusive. I think Baumann and Kameenui (1991), in their synthesis of research related to vocabulary instruction, say it best: [We know too much to say we know too little, and we know too little to say that we know enough.]

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