Monday, March 27, 2017

Vocabulary Development: 5A

Here are several short videos on how to help young children develop vocabulary:

Language and Learning: Infants and Toddlers
Uploaded on Feb 4, 2011
The purpose of this video is to illustrate the role of the teacher in using language to support children's development. The interactions you will see include positive language, expansion, questioning, and redirection. Teachers use these techniques to expand children's knowledge, 
Language Development Videos
Supporting Oral Language Development in a Language-Rich Environment 9 minutes  Ages 3-5
Published on Apr 13, 2016
Oral language is the foundation for learning to read and write, and is critical for supporting the development of children’s early literacy skills. This video introduces some of the rule systems of language that children need to master to develop strong oral language skills, and stresses 
Scaffolding Language Skills
Vocabulary Development Words: Semantic, Syntactic, Phonology   *Introduce words in context

Monday, March 20, 2017

Vocabulary: Part 4: Content Words in Story and Information Text

Tier 3: Content Words
My favorite source on vocabulary knowledge: K through HS is the Text Project.  There is an extensive list of resources on this site.  Here are some that address Tier 3: Content Words for younger children.




Science (on the playground)

Critical Science Vocabulary

New words in science lessons and texts usually represent unknown concepts (e.g., photosynthesis, erosion). This is different than the new vocabulary in narratives that typically pertain to known concepts (e.g., new words such as raucous and boisterous instead of the familiar noisy). In this presentation, Elfrieda H. Hiebert [presenter] will discuss the need to make science vocabulary education a priority in grades one through four. If the concepts are not taught in grades one through four, later when the students are in the middle grades they will be faced with an inordinate number of challenging words, representing complex and unknown concepts

Monday, March 13, 2017

Vocabulary Part 3 Tiered Words

Top of Form
Bottom of Form
 Excerpted from one of my other blogs: Dialogue About Language, Literacy, and Learning

Several distinctions have been made about types of vocabulary words to be learned.  One currently popular distinction is categorizing “Tiered Words.”  Beck formulated a system where she described words as Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3. Here’s a link to her work with Mc Keown and Kucan (Creating Robust Vocabulary, Guildford Press, 2008):
 al. al. describe these levels (tiers) as
Tier One: Most basic words, rarely require instruction in school; Exs: clock, baby, happy
Tier Two: Words that are of high frequency in mature language use and are found across a variety of domains; Exs: coincidence, absurd, industrious.
Tier Three: Words whose frequency of use is quite low and is often limited to specific domains; best learned when needed in a content area; Exs: isotope, lathe, peninsula

(Note: Tiered vocabulary is not to be confused with Tier 1, 2, and 3 Instruction in Response to Intervention literature. Those tiers refer to the level of intervention needed for students who are or are not progressing as expected in the regular classroom. The instruction is not specific to vocabulary).
* * * *
 A description of tiered words from an elementary school.
Taken from Images of Academic Words where there are many other images/links. Simply google “images for academic words.”

And here is a commercial site that provides a 3 minute video distinguishing tiers of words:

Tier 1 words: These words are basic vocabulary or the more common words most children will know. They include high-frequency words and usually are not multiple meaning words.

Tier 2 words: Less familiar, yet useful vocabulary found in written text and shared between the teacher and student in conversation. The Common Core State Standards refers to these as “general academic words.” Sometimes they are referred to as “rich vocabulary.” These words are more precise or subtle forms of familiar words and include multiple meaning words. Instead of walk for example, saunter could be used. These words are found across a variety of domains.

Tier 3 words: CCSS refers to these words as “domain specific;” they are critical to understanding the concepts of the content taught in schools. Generally, they have low frequency use and are limited to specific knowledge domains. Examples would include words such as isotope, peninsula, refinery. They are best learned when teaching specific content lessons, and tend to be more common in informational text.

So, we might consider Tier 2 words as general “academic words” while Tier 3 words are considered “content specific words” referring to words/concepts learned in content areas like science and social studies.

We can also distinguish words important for instruction: frequency, conceptual complexity (abstractness), and word relationships: familiarity, morphological family, semantic relationships and dispersion.

One of the very best sources on a range of vocabulary topics is the Text Project.  See, for example:

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Vocabulary Development and Learning: Part 2B

The topic of vocabulary development is important enough to add some new and recent links/excerpts:
Recent Trends in Income, Racial, and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry
Sean F. Reardon, Ximena A. Portilla (August 2016 ). Recent Trends in Income, Racial, and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry, American Educational Research Association (AERA) Open, DOI: 10.1177/2332858416657343,
From Reading Rockets
A short excerpt:
“This study found that low-income kindergarten students have reversed the trend of growing academic achievement gaps between them and their higher-income peers. Academic achievement gaps grew from the 1970s to the 1990s, but from 1998 to 2010 the gaps shrank 10-16%. During this time frame, the White-Hispanic kindergarten readiness gap and the White-Black gap each dropped. Researchers attributed the improved preparedness, in part, to low-income parents spending significantly more time reading to their children, taking them to museums, and introducing them to educational games on computers. Despite the narrowing of these readiness gaps, they remain large and, in fact, progress is so slow that at the rate that improvements are occurring, it will take at least 60 years for disparities to be eliminated.

Teaching Vocabulary  Early, Direct, and Sequential

By Andrew Biemiller
A short excerpt
“Schools now do little to promote vocabulary development, particularly in the critical years before grade 3. The role of schooling in vocabulary acquisition has been the subject of much debate. Early (pre-literacy) differences in vocabulary growth are associated with social class (Duncan, Brooks-Gunn, and Klebanov, 1994; Hart and Risley, 1995; McLloyd, 1998). Nagy and Herman (1987) and Sternberg (1987) argue that much vocabulary acquisition results from literacy and wide reading rather than from direct instruction. However, it is obvious that a great deal of vocabulary acquisition occurs before children become literate, and before they are reading books that introduce unfamiliar vocabulary (Becker, 1977). Cantalini (1987) and Morrison, Williams, and Massetti (1998) both report that vocabulary acquisition in kindergarten and grade 1 is little influenced by school experience, based on finding that young first-graders have about the same vocabulary (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test) as older kindergarten children. Cantalini reported the same result for second grade. - See more at:

Closing the Vocabulary Gap
Alex Rappaport argues that word acquisition may be the easiest way to close the achievement gap
A short excerpt:
“One promise of public education is to level the playing field across the socioeconomic and ethnic spectrum. Unfortunately, the system is not fulfilling that promise. The achievement gap has been an issue for decades, and it’s getting worse."
"A recent study released by Stanford University sociologist Sean F. Reardon shows that the gap has widened by 40% since the 1960s. The study looked at the disparity in academic achievement between students in the tenth percentile of family income against students in the ninetieth percentile. Standardized test scores were used as a metric, which is fairly common in achievement gap studies. Other metrics include high school dropout rates and college graduation rates. Unfortunately, the relationship between income and achievement is consistent across all of these metrics. According to Teach for America, only 8% of students growing up in poverty graduate from college by age 24, compared with 80% of students in more affluent areas. In other words, the effects of the gap extend beyond test scores and make a significant impact on achievement throughout a student’s academic career.”
"Many researchers attribute the lower achievement to “opportunity gaps” such as a lack of educational resources at home, limited access to health-care, and even more subtle factors like test bias, stereotyping, and peer pressure. With so many social and cultural factors at play, the problem can seem insurmountable. What to fix first? And how? Elimination of poverty or improvements to the health care system can’t be achieved from within the classroom walls" ….
 Preschool Through Third Grade Alignment and Differentiated Instruction: A Literature Review
August 2016 Prepared for: Policy and Program Studies Service Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development U.S. Department of Education
 Prepared by: Katie Drummond Aleksandra Holod Marie Perrot Antonia Wang American Institutes for Research Washington, DC 20007

A short excerpt from a 108 page report

“Executive Summary This literature review provides a review of policies, programs, and practices that have the potential to help students sustain the positive effects of preschool as they progress from kindergarten through grade 3 (K–3). The U.S. Department of Education’s Policy and Program Studies Service commissioned this systematic literature review, which focuses on two specific approaches: (1) preschool and K–3 alignment, and (2) differentiated instruction in kindergarten and first grade. Background Research shows that participation in a high-quality preschool can improve young children’s readiness skills for elementary school, positively influencing behavioral, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes (Andrews, Jargowsky, & Kuhne, 2012). Specifically, for children who may be at risk for academic challenges in early elementary school, attending a high-quality preschool can improve test scores and attendance, and it can reduce grade-level retention and placement in special education (Andrews et al., 2012; Barnett, 2008; Karoly & Bigelow, 2005; Reynolds, 1993; Reynolds et al., 2007). However, some preschool program evaluations document that strong initial benefits may not persist into early elementary school (Lipsey, Farran, & Hofer, 2015; Magnuson, Meyers, Ruhm, & Waldfogel, 2005; Manship, Madsen, Mezzanotte, & Fain, 2013; Ramey et al., 2000; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). Preschool benefits may not persist for many reasons, including lack of continuous follow-up with participating students, lack of family supports or involvement, or limited intensity or duration of the preschool program (Brooks-Gunn, 2003; Halpern, 2013; Reynolds, Magnuson, & Ou, 2006). The positive effects of preschool may not persist if children attend poor-quality elementary schools after preschool (Clements, Reynolds, & Hickey, 2004; Lee & Loeb, 1995). Without additional and continuous supports as children continue through the early elementary grades, participation in preschool cannot overcome potential challenges that children, particularly those at risk for poorer academic outcomes, may face. It is important to identify ways to sustain early cognitive, social-emotional, and academic gains in order to give all students opportunities to thrive academically. To explore potential ways to sustain the positive effects of preschool, this literature review focused on two specific topics: (1) preschool and K–3 alignment and (2) differentiated instruction in kindergarten and first grade. The U.S. Department of Education’s Policy and Program Studies Service (PPSS), in collaboration with the Office of Early Learning, selected eight topics for preliminary searches after initial attempts to identify interventions specifically designed to sustain the benefits of preschool turned up low yields. Based on the search results (and after receiving input from multiple Department offices), PPSS recommended two final topics for the literature review. PPSS made final decisions about further specifications for the differentiated instruction section (e.g., only include research spanning grades K–1 and exclude studies that focus exclusively on lower-achieving students)."

 Preschool and K–3 Alignment The first topic focuses on approaches to align preschool and kindergarten through grade 3.

"The first topic focuses on approaches to align preschool and kindergarten through grade 3. Preschool or prekindergarten and K–3 alignment (sometimes called P–3) emphasizes coordination among standards, curricula, instructional practices, student assessment, and teacher professional development between the preschool years and the early elementary school years. Early childhood experts assert that the effects of preschool may be sustained and investment in early education capitalized upon if curricula and instructional strategies from preschool through grade 3 are well aligned (Bogard & Takanishi, 2005; Brooks-Gunn, 2003; Howard, 2008). As Reynolds and Temple (2008) suggest, P–3 programs may provide more continuity and better organization of services for students as well as enhanced school-family partnerships.
Differentiated Instruction.
 The second topic focuses on differentiated instruction in kindergarten and first grade. The premise of differentiated instruction is that teaching practices and curricula should vary to meet the diverse needs and skills of the individual student and to optimize students’ learning experiences (Tomlinson, 2000, 2001). In a differentiated instructional delivery model, student needs are emphasized (Stanford & Reeves, 2009), with teachers purposively adapting instructional strategies and the focus of skill building to be responsive to individual or groups of students (Jones, Yssel, & Grant, 2012). One explanation for why initial benefits of preschool do not persist as students enter elementary school is that children who make early gains in preschool may not have the opportunity to maintain their growth rate or learning trajectory because early elementary instruction may focus on students who are less prepared and have low-level skills. In other words, instruction may not be differentiated, and in some cases may not be rigorous enough, to meet and build upon the skills that some students have upon school entry (Claessens, Engel, & Curran, 2013; Kauerz, 2006; Lipsey, Farran, & Hofer, 2015)."