Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Vocabulary

Over my years in teaching there has been a constant flow of how to best and effectively provide vocabulary instruction. This may seem like a simple concept, but for many teachers (including myself) it often leaves unsure of which strategy is best to use. Add to that, "district" administrators/facilitators providing one inservice stressing that we use the most current and popular trend. Now, the teacher is expected to use this strategy to teach. Don't get me wrong, I welcome the opportunity to learn a new and better way to improve my teaching. But, I don't believe there is only one way of teaching anything.

That's why I typically use Graves multi-component approach to teaching vocabulary. His approach consists of four parts.
  1. Wide Reading- "The more you read, the more vocabulary you learn." I am a total believer! Students should read a variety of texts and at different levels (simple, for fun, and challenging).
  2. Teaching Individual Words- Pre-teach key vocabulary before students read text. Choose words that appear across all types of text or are uncommon to daily use.
  3. Teaching Word Learning Strategies- Knowledge of word parts (prefix, root word, suffix), dictionary use, inferring meaning, cognate awareness (ELL)
  4. Fostering Word Consciousness- Get students interested in words! Graves shared, "If we can get students interested in playing with words and language, then we are at least halfway to the goal of creating the sort of word-conscious students who will make words a lifetime interest."
Within these four parts there is plenty of room for teachers to be creative and incorporate other effective strategies. Please share if you have found an effective way to teach vocabulary, I would love to hear what you do.


  1. LOVE teaching vocabulary. I teach roots and prefixes through a book and then carry it over into the vocabulary we find in our novel studies. I love it when students start connecting all of their words! Thanks for the post.

    1. Like you I love using anchor books to help students make connections too. The more they see and hear the word the more likely they are to understand and use the words.


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