Education Week - May 13, 2015 - Special Report - (Page S10)

S10 | EDUCATION WEEK MAY 13, 2015 EDUCATION WEEK MAY 13, 2015 n n Building Literacy Skills > Building Literacy Skills > A ADVERTISEMENT Washington The International Reading Association is now the International Literacy Association! ILA 2015 CONFERENCE & EXHIBITS St. Louis, Missouri | July 18-20, 2015 AS MANY EDUCATORS AND researchers will attest, there's no exact science to choosing vocabulary words-no inherent reason the word "detest" is more important to teach than "despise," or why "compassion" should be highlighted in a text before "sympathy." But some reading experts, inPRECONFERENCE INSTITUTES JULY 17 WHY ATTEND? Shaquille O'Neal Octavia Spencer 6,000+ 300+ 120+ EDUCATORS SESSIONS EXHIBITORS LEARN MORE! cluding those who helped write the Common Core State Standards, are saying what's critical about vocabulary instruction is how the words are introduced-and that context is key. "We've known for a long, long time from research that giving students a list of words and asking them to look them up in the dictionary and write a sentence is not an effective way to teach vocabulary," said Nell K. Duke, a professor of literacy, language, and culture at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. A better approach, some say, is to have students focus on a topic-anything from the musculatory system to the Great Depression to Greek myths. "It turns out that learning about the world is a great way to build your vocabulary and knowledge," said David Liben, a senior content specialist for the literacy team at the New York City-based Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit professional-development group founded by the lead writers of the common-core standards. At Center City Charter School's Brightwood campus here in the District of Columbia school system, early-elementary educators have begun moving vocabulary instruction into thematic units. On a rainy day this spring, kinderForget Word Lists: Vocabulary Lessons Start With Context Under the common core, some students learn about the world to build their vocabularies garten teacher Elizabeth Masi led her students through a picture book about colonial towns and families. The lesson was peppered with words that seemed far above 5-year-olds' heads: "miller," "sheer," "linen," "spindle," "carder." Academic Vocabulary But Ms. Masi made clear that students should focus on a single word of the day-in this case, "garment." The spinners and the weavers use materials like cotton and wool to make "garments," she pointed out. Garment, as teachers at Center City explain, is a "tier two" vocabulary word. The appendix of the common standards, based on research by Isabel L. Beck, Margaret G. McKeown, and Linda Kucan, the authors of Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction, lays out three tiers for vocabulary words. Tier-one words are the most common words used in everyday speech. On the other end of the spectrum, tier-three words are domain-specific, meaning they're uncommon and used only in particular academic or topical contexts. Tier-two words are the sweet spot for common-core instruction - they're academic but come up in a variety of contexts. They have "wide applicability," the standards say, and need to be explicitly taught. And, somewhat paradoxically, one of the best ways to learn about those transferable tier-two words, some say, is by becoming an expert in one particular topic. "People find the academic word lists and teach from them, not recognizing that what's hard about academic PAGE S12 > By Liana Heitin

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 13, 2015 - Special Report

Education Week - May 13, 2015 - Special Report
Teachers Turn to New Read-Aloud Strategies For Common-Core Era
Alabama Coaches Up Literacy Lessons
Broadening the Push for Grade-Level Reading
Forget Word Lists: Vocabulary Lessons Start With Context
Should 3rd Grade Be Pivot Point for Early Reading?
Fluency Still Seen as Neglected Skill

Education Week - May 13, 2015 - Special Report