Most of the words in texts come from a core group of about 5,500 words--up to 90% of the total words in texts for elementary students. This group of core words is the same, whether the text tells a story or conveys information. The other 10% of vocabulary comes from a vast store of English words (300,000 to 600,000 words, depending on whether archaic, derivational, and dialect words are included).
The extended vocabulary of stories is quite different from the extended vocabulary of informational texts. Unique words often occur a single time in a story but the ideas that the words represent are similar across stories such as ways of feeling (e.g., exasperated, astonished, dismayed). The unique words of informational texts are usually repeated in a text but they are often conceptually complex and specific to the theme or topic (e.g., canal, waterways, navigation).
These differences in the extended vocabularies of stories and informational texts mean substantial differences for instruction. TextProject provides a wealth of resources on selecting and instructing the extended vocabularies of stories and informational texts.
Originally designed to supplement QuickReads print edition, TextProject: Word Pictures helps English Language Learners connect key words to concepts they may already know.
E4 is a series of 32 flexible vocabulary development lessons each focusing on an everyday concept and brainstorming other words that describe the concept.
The typical approach to teaching vocabulary in English/Language Arts programs has been to focus on six to eight words per text. Even though these words may add meaning to a particular story, the target words are often rare and their generalizability is limited. The Vocabulary Megaclusters provides a framework for selecting and teaching words according to their shared meaning and function in stories.
Hiebert, E.H. (2011). Growing Capacity with the Vocabulary of English Language Arts Programs: Vocabulary Megaclusters (Reading Research Report 11.02). Santa Cruz, CA: TextProject, Inc.
This report compares features of the words in fourth grade ELA and science texts and suggests instructional methods suitable to the vocabulary in each type of text.
Hiebert, E.H. & Cervetti, G.N. (2011). What Differences in Narrative and Informational Texts Mean for the Learning and Instruction of Vocabulary (Reading Research Report 11.01). Santa Cruz, CA: TextProject, Inc.
27 March 2007
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.
30 August 2007
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.
5 November 2007
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.
17 April 2007
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.
20 March 2007
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.
19 December 2007
Beyond the primary grades, the language of written texts becomes more sophisticated than the language of oral language. This doesn’t mean, however, that students don’t need numerous opportunities to hear and express sophisticated vocabulary in oral language.
7 March 2008
Word consciousness is much more than knowing about words or even knowing many words. Word consciousness is also a disposition—an appreciation of words and an interest in them.
14 November 2009
ELLs may have the concepts of a topic but simply give the concepts different labels than the English ones. In a unit on the human body, native Spanish speakers know about a skeleton.
9 September 2009
Vocabulary is one of the topics that Cassidy and Cassidy listed as hot in Reading Today. Vocabulary should always be a hot topic in that it forms the foundation of knowing and learning anything. A typical direction that educators take when a topic is hot is to think of lessons and materials and curriculum. These things are part of the solution but an additional resource lies in the everyday talk of classrooms. Language is the medium of human interaction and, like any human context, language fills classroom life.
8 May 2011
Presentation slides for the Vocabulary Filters: A Framework for Choosing Which Words to Teach in Stories session at IRA, 2011.
Presented at the Vocabulary Filters: A Framework for Choosing Which Words to Teach in Stories session at IRA, 2011. Orlando, Florida. May 8, 2011.
18 March 2009
Presentation slides for the West Virginia 2009 Spring Reading Symposium.
1 February 2011
Presentation slides for California Reading & Literature Project's Saturday Speaker Series on Jan 23, 2011.
28 April 2008
Archived webinar presentation available at SchoolsMovingUp.
Webinar of Critical Science Vocabulary presented on April 30, 2008. Hosted by SchoolsMovingUp.
24 May 2007
Archived webinar presentation available at SchoolsMovingUp.
Webinar presented on May 24, 2007. Hosted by SchoolsMovingUp.
23 August 2008
Presentation slides and handouts for the New Jersey 2008 Summer Literacy Institute.
10 April 2007
Pearson, P.D., Hiebert, E.H., & Kamil, M.L. (2007). Vocabulary assessment: What we know and what we need to know. Reading Research Quarterly, 42(2), pp. 282-296.
24 April 2007
Cervetti, G.N., Pearson, P. D., Barber, J., Hiebert, E.H., & Bravo, M.A. (2007). Integrating literacy and science: The research we have, the research we need. In M. Pressley, A. K. Billman, K. Perry, K. Refitt & J. Reynolds (Eds.), Shaping literacy achievement (pp. 157-174). New York: Guilford.