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IRA Research Conference Atlanta, Georgia May 3, 2008

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Presentation on theme: "IRA Research Conference Atlanta, Georgia May 3, 2008"— Presentation transcript:

1 Teaching Vocabulary to Primary Grade Students Within a School Reform Project
IRA Research Conference Atlanta, Georgia May 3, 2008 Jan Dole, Kristin Nelson, Michelle Hosp University of Utah John Hosp Florida State University

2 Overview of the Talk Anticipation Guide Background to the Study
Research Questions Methods Results & Discussion Implications of Research for Professional Development and Practice

3 Background to the Study
Word knowledge gap between middle-class and high poverty students begins well before students enter kindergarten. Word knowledge gap gets bigger as students get older. Biemiller (2005) estimates that the bottom 25%-achieving students begin kindergarten with 1,000 fewer root word meanings than average-achieving students.

4 Background of the Study
Research and vocabulary scholars suggest at least three components of teaching vocabulary: 1) specific word meanings 2) word-learning strategies 3) word consciousness

5 Specific Word Meanings
Effective teaching includes: Using student-friendly definitions. Providing example sentences. Using words in more than one context. Teaching words deeply if you want to impact text comprehension. Teaching new words for known concepts. Providing repeated practice with words.

6 Word-Learning Strategies
Effective teaching includes: Showing students how to break down words into specific word parts that have meaning. Showing students how to use context clues to estimate the meaning of words.

7 Word Consciousness Effective teaching includes:
filling students’ lives with a variety of words and allowing them to have fun with language and words.

8 Background to the Study
Teachers spend an average of 3% to 20% of their instructional time on vocabulary with the percentage varying depending on the block of time used for analysis (Durkin, ; Roser and Juel, 1982; Blachowitz, 1987; Watts, 1995; Scott, Jamieson-Noel, and Asselin, 2003). None of these studies conducted specifically on primary grades.

9 Research Questions How do primary grade teachers teach vocabulary (within a school reform project)? How much time and how often do they teach the meanings of words? What methods do they use for teaching words to their students? What are their perceptions of their vocabulary instruction?

10 Context of the Study The school reform project was Reading First.
The goal of Reading First was to increase the number of students reading on grade level by the end of the third grade. All schools were Title I schools. The project impacted districts, schools and teachers.

11 Impact on Districts Assistance in identifying professional development needs of individual schools. Professional development in reading (including vocabulary development) for principals, coaches and teachers.

12 Impact on Schools and Teachers
Compensation for reading endorsement classes. Professional development at the state and district levels. Participation in grade/school level study groups (Discuss students progress and instructional strategies). Coach mentoring and feedback.

13 Methods Observations of kindergarten, first, second and third grade teachers participating in school reform project. Follow-up interviews with teachers participating in the same project.

14 Observations Year 2 of the project: 111 teachers.
Total number: 337 observations of teachers. Conducted over a 3-hour literacy block. 90 minutes for reading.

15 Observation Instrument
ICE-R2 instrument Adapted from Edmonds., M. S., & Briggs, K. L. (In press). Instructional Content Emphasis instrument. In S. R. Vaughn & K. L. Briggs (Eds.) Reading in the classroom: Systems for observing teaching and learning. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes. Adapted by University of Utah Reading First evaluators.

16 ICE-R2 Observers focus on teachers’ behaviors during the 3 hour reading/language arts time block. They take extensive field notes. They then code 10 dimensions of language arts instruction. One of those dimensions is vocabulary.

17 Observation Instrument
Observed developed short summaries of teacher behavior: “T refers to vocabulary chart-asks Ss about root words, suffixes and prefixes on words, e.g. galloped, glistened.” “T and Ss read from a passage…Ss are to understand the vocabulary words off to the side of the passage by reading and deciding the meaning in context.”

18 Observation Instrument
Researchers used these summaries to develop a new coding scheme. Result was the development of the K-3 Direct Vocabulary Instruction Instrument.

19 K-3 Direct Vocabulary Instruction Instrument
1) Includes teaching: specific words: defining, examples or non-examples, explaining or elaborating, generating sentences, combinations of these. word-learning strategies: context clues, word parts, synonyms or antonyms, combinations of these. word consciousness: word play, games, figures of speech.

20 K-3 Direct Vocabulary Instruction Instrument
2) Includes explicit or implicit teaching of vocabulary: Explicit--defined as teacher-directed instruction, particularly Teacher talk (teacher alone), teacher/student interaction (teacher and student), or student practice. Implicit--defined as embedded within an activity--e.g. teacher read-aloud.

21 K-3 Direct Vocabulary Instruction Instrument
3) Includes oral and or written dimension: Was the instruction: * oral (only speaking)? * written (worksheets, writing sentences, journal entries)? * combination of both?

22 Interviews Fifteen purposefully selected teachers who had participated in the project in all of the years of the observations to date. Scripted questions designed to elicit conversation about specific areas of vocabulary instruction and their purposes for providing the instruction.

23 Results and Discussion
On average, 7.55 minutes of instruction (4.74% of the literacy block across three years). On average, 60% of the teachers provided vocabulary instruction. On average, those who taught vocabulary did so twice (2.0 times) during the literacy blocks. Kindergarten teachers provided the least vocabulary instruction; third-grade teachers the most.

24 Across 3 Years

25 Methods of Instruction
Teaching Specific Words: 90% Word-Learning Strategies: 9% Word-Consciousness: 1%

26 Teaching Specific Words
“T gives definition of words on word wall and Ss say which word wall word fits the definition. T says these are amazing words, ‘interrupt and protest.’ T asks Ss if they know meanings. They talk about the definitions. T writes definitions on board.”

27 Teaching Word-Learning Strategies
“T tells Ss they will use context clues to find meanings in words they don’t know. T begins to read passage and Ss follow along. T stops to ask vocabulary questions from words on the board. As they find meanings for the word, T writes definition on the board.”

28 Teaching Word Consciousness
“Teacher hands out little books called, Dinosaur Riddles. T has students read the riddles to themselves and then asks for students to guess the answers. Teacher explains to students why the riddles are funny. Example: What do you call a dinosaur that smashes everything in its path? Tyrannosaurus Wrecks.”

29 Methods of Instruction
Teaching specific words: Definitions of words 46% Using examples and non-ex. 10% Explaining/elaborating % Using sentences 10% Combination of approaches 22%

30 Teaching Words by Examples and Sentences
“T writes the word lonely on the easel. Ss repeat the word and T explains the definition. Ss give examples of when they were lonely.” “T and Ss have a discussion about each word on the chart (county, auctioneer, bid) and use the words in a sentence.”

31 Explicit or Implicit Instruction
Explicit across 3 years 99% Implicit across 3 years 1% Explicit Instruction Student/teacher interaction 92% Student practice % Teacher talk %

32 Oral or Written Instruction
Oral Across 3 Years: 14% Written Across 3 Years: % Oral and Written Across 3 Years: 80%

33 Teachers’ Perceptions about and Explanations for Teaching Vocabulary
1) They are purposeful in choosing words to teach: * Connected to decoding, spelling, and fluency. * Present in basals. * To achieve on standardized tests. * Words to use with Text Talk (Beck & McKeown).

34 Teachers’ Perceptions about and Explanations for Teaching Vocabulary
2) Teachers discussed the teaching of specific words, but not word-learning strategies or word consciousness. 3) Teachers described and appeared to have inert knowledge about vocabulary instruction that had not been enacted in their classroom practice.

35 Conclusions Findings related to the amount and frequency of vocabulary instruction are consistent with other observational studies. With professional development, these primary grade teachers were able to provide vocabulary instruction beyond assigning and mentioning. Such instruction is explicit in that teachers are directly working with students to understand and learn new words.

36 Conclusions On the other hand, K-3 teachers did not teach students word-learning strategies very often. Neither did teachers promote word consciousness.

37 Conclusions Thus, teachers either began with or were able to develop intermediate levels of knowledge and enacted practice of vocabulary instruction.

38 Conclusions But, K-3 teachers did not have what we would call advanced levels of knowledge and enacted practice of vocabulary instruction.

39 Conclusions Novice - Assigning and mentioning, simple worksheets, dictionary definitions only, not purposeful in choosing words. Intermediate - Student friendly definitions, using examples/nonexamples, a combination of approaches, writing and talking about words, purposeful in choosing words.

40 Conclusions Advanced - Including all 3 components of instruction, striving for deep understanding as needed through semantic approaches such as mapping and feature analysis, offering repeated exposure to the words in different contexts.

41 Implications of Research for Professional Development
It is unclear what professional development these teachers had in vocabulary instruction. We know they did learn about Beck et al.’s Three Tier Model. They also learned Text Talk (Beck et al.). We doubt, but not know, that they learned much about word learning strategies or word consciousness.

42 A Professional Development Curriculum in Vocabulary
What should it look like? Theory and research on vocabulary acquisition. How students learn new words. The achievement gap in vocabulary learning (high achievers vs. low achievers). Best teaching practices.

43 A Professional Development Curriculum in Vocabulary
Best teaching practices on: Specific words. Word-learning strategies. Word-consciousness.

44 A Professional Development Curriculum in Vocabulary
When teachers want students to learn words deeply to affect comprehension: -- Semantic maps. -- Concept maps. -- Semantic feature analysis. -- Frayer method.

45 A Professional Development Curriculum in Vocabulary
Explicit instruction in vocabulary * Modeling and explanation (I do). * Guided practice (We do). * Independent practice (You do).

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