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I have been involved in some discussions with other SLPs about one of my favorite topics…vocabulary instruction. A few years ago I got to go to this awesome workshop where we focused on the connection between language and reading, and how quality vocabulary instruction is SO important. Not just for our kids, but all kids. At this conference, I was given this book that totally changed the game for me…
I had was given the first edition, but there is now a second edition available! The newer edition includes information related to RtI, Common Core, and writing!
Why do I love this book so much?
It has PRACTICAL information regarding how to provide really good instruction for vocabulary. It explains Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 words which are classifications for all words. Super Duper has a great handout that outlines these words more specifically, you can download it HERE. At the very basic level, Tier 1 are simple words, such as ball or hand, and Tier 3 words are very specific to a subject, such as tundra or chlorine. Tier 2 words are where we need to focus to make the the most impact. These are the words that are used across subject areas, have a high frequency of occurrence, but are still rich in meaning.
The book actually walks you through lessons at various grade levels on how to best choose words, define them, and engage students in activities to further explore the words. Best part? It is research based….HELLO EBP! You can easily use this in therapy, classrooms, or for RtI interventions.
So how has this changed my instruction?
I have been able to incorporate these strategies during therapy in shared book activities with my students. But I have also been able to use these strategies to change vocabulary instruction in the general education classroom!
The way that our school taught vocabulary was using the words in the reading series that were chosen for them in the teacher manuals. The problem that we had was that many of the words chosen by the reading series we use as ‘vocabulary’ to use were not Tier 2, and the definitions were not student friendly. They were not words that were really going to make an impact in students’ word knowledge. So I sat down with one teacher and we discussed this and what needed to change. Luckily, this teacher was seeing the same issues I did and had the same vision for change. We went through each story in the reading series and chose new words. Tier 2 words. Words that would build all students’ lexicons. We wrote child friendly definitions to go with them. Instruction & testing was revamped. The results were phenomenal. The kids were learning the words, using the words in conversations, and building their vocabulary. I can even throw on my mom hat here, cause my son just happened to be in this grade level and he was using the words in our conversations at home. It was SO incredibly exciting and rewarding to watch this happen. The next year, we branched out to another grade level. I wasn’t as involved last year, but I know that these strategies continue to be incorporated…even if it is just in some classrooms. I feel good about that.
I really think this book is a must read, for both SLPs and teachers…anyone who is teaching. If you don’t have it, get it. If it is just sitting on a shelf, dust it off and give it a go. My copy is covered in sticky notes and high lighters.
Have you read this book? What do you think about this approach to instruction?