Welcome to week 2 of my ten week book study on Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction. If you missed last week's post, you may want to check it out here because I will be referring to some of what we discussed as we move on.
Chapter 2 is titled Choosing Words to Teach, and so far to me (I haven't quite finished the book) it's the most important chapter. It is SO hard to select words, and I know I'm guilty of just going with whatever someone else recommends. But we need to be very cognizant of what our students need in terms of vocabulary, and we need to learn to TRUST OUR OWN JUDGEMENT! I know from reading so many of your posts that we are a group a fantastic teachers, so I know we can do this with just a little bit of guidance.
If you remember from last week, we want to focus in on Tier 2 words because those are the words that will help students cross over from since conversational language to academic, literate vocabulary. This is essential for students to experience academic success!!
I'm all about keeping things as short and simple as possible, so I'm going to give you the 3 pieces of criteria you need for choosing words.
- Choose words that appear frequently across multiple contexts.
- Students need to be able to understand the concept of the word and explain it in their own terms.
- Words should offer instructional potential for exploring further definitions and contexts.
***One Thing to Consider***
I know some of you may be a little concerned about how to teach content-specific vocabulary that is important in math, science, and social studies. The book suggests that you consider whether it is the actual word that is important for students to understand or if it is mainly the concept. If at all possible, think ahead for those vocabulary words and try to integrate them into instructional activities over a longer period of time. For example, if you are discussing monsoons in social studies and one vocabulary word is sodden, have students explain how sodden could describe the effects of a monsoon. It will take a lot more creativity, but students need to be engaged in activities that help them understand the concepts rather than simply a definition for these words.
There is so much more in this chapter, but these hit on the most important parts, and I hope they will help you with selecting more appropriate words for vocabulary instruction. I know I can't wait to start trying this with my own kids in the fall!