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TextProject president and CEO Elfrieda H. (Freddy) Hiebert blogs about important issues in reading research and practice.
Emphasizing vocabulary as a first step of a lesson makes sense in that different languages use different words to represent the same concepts. Students may already have the concept in their native language or at least some relevant background knowledge to the concept.
School texts, especially those in content areas, have a special register called academic language. Within the academic language of content area textbooks, distinctions can be made in vocabulary.
If educators are to make a dent in the vocabulary gap that currently exists between low- and high-achieving students, disciplined ways of selecting words for instruction—and assessments—are needed.
In many schools and for the many topics that are part of a school curriculum, field trips aren’t possible. A Vocabulary Visit serves as a viable alternative, providing students with a multitude of experiences with the core words related to a topic.
Learning the stories behind words can be intriguing. The creation of Word Stories can be a way to involve students in the adventure of language.
As students move through the grades, morphological awareness increasingly predicts students’ reading.
How can we scaffold or support the development of proficient self-selected reading? The answer is not to put students into contexts without any guidance. That is, students shouldn’t spend instructional time with text that they have self-selected when they have not been taught how to select books.
The proficiency levels of primary-level students can be improved through hard work by teachers and their educational leaders. The next challenge is to build on this proficiency and support high levels of thinking with text.
Educators at one school had decided that, because the NRP concluded that “No research evidence is available currently to confirm that instructional time spent on silent, independent reading with minimal guidance and feedback improves reading fluency or overall reading achievement,” there should be no silent reading during the Reading First block. For all intents and purposes, silent reading had been eliminated from the primary grades in this school.
E.D. Hirsch has described the dilemma in depth; David Pearson has described the same dilemma succinctly. The bottom line is that reading/language arts instruction needs to be centered on content. We agree on that. But what content? I reviewed the standards documents of the nation’s two largest states and the national standards document. I found little that could guide state and district leaders or publishers in designing the content-rich curricula that Hirsch and Pearson are describing.