Saturday, December 1, 2012

OLW: Listening to our vocabulary instruction

A few days ago during our professional development day, teachers were discussing vocabulary instruction. After reading vocabulary thoughts from Beck, the Common Core Appendix A explanation of acquistion of vocabulary, Fountas and Pinnell, Debbie Diller, and so on...I found that vocabulary instruction had around 8 common themes that were reappearing.

  • Balance of direct and indirect instruction
  • thought-provoking
  • interactive
  • encourages wide reading
  • promotes word consciousness
  • includes high quality literature
  • playful
  • balance of dictionary and context

 The teachers were asked to sort these components into three categories.  The teachers were given no headings for the sort.  They were thinking about their knowledge and their experiences to sort these components in a way that connected to their students, their teaching and teaching structures.  Some found this activity frustrating because they were not given the categories.  Some teachers were quick to sort.  Some were quick to sort two ways and spent time looking at the sort to see a third way.  Here are some of the sorts that teachers used to anchor their conversations.

Sorting by what we do, what we need, and areas to wonder about.
Sorting by teaching strategies, components for students, components for the teacher.
Sorting by what the classroom would appear to look like, the benefits, and the structures needed.

It was during these conversations that I was reminded of what I already knew...teachers need time to discuss and listen to colleagues about the WHAT and the WHY of what we do/teach so that we can make informed decisions on HOW this could occur in the structures we have developed and the needs of our students in our individual classrooms.  

PS...If you are interested in supporting the "balance of using the dictionary and using context"...check out Wonder 127- How do words get added to the dictionary?


  1. Thank you for posting your OLW with me. Your message today is one that I need to be reminded of constantly. I like how you showed just like students that all teachers think differently.

  2. Great activity Tracy! I LOVE those conversations!!! I always grow in my thinking and understanding in discussions like these.