Abraham Lincoln said, “A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.” I strive each day to develop meaningful lessons which allow students the capacity to understand what they read.
The Key is Vocabulary
There are five core components of reading instruction that are essential to building successful readers. As a primary teacher, I work to develop balanced lessons in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Through the core reading series, I work to teach my second graders how to understanding themes, authors’ purpose, text interpretations, and connections. With all my efforts to teach comprehension strategies, I’ve found kids continue to struggle to understand the text. An inch deep and mile wide just won’t do! I need to help my students to develop a deeper understanding of vocabulary to enhance our reading success!
The Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. Although there isn’t definitive answers to how many words are in the English language, I do know that an ordinary person only learns a small fraction of the words. Building vocabulary is a lifelong process and important component to activating schema, expressing our ideas, and opening the doors to new concepts.
Understanding vocabulary is crucial to reading comprehension. As a school wide initiative, I’m working with students to expose a variety of words through meaningful text. Each month teachers in my school introduce a new book of the month. This book becomes a foundation to new word exposure. These words are introduced through semantic word maps, word wizards, and the Frayer Model.
Semantic word maps allow students to explore their knowledge of a new word by categorizing its meaning. This allows students to connect several words together and provide a clear understanding based on the relationship between word groupings.
Word wizards promote students’ word consciousness. The goal of this chart is to help students notice words read in context and develop an understanding of the word through context clues.
The Frayer Model is a concept map that includes the definition and characteristics of the word. This map reiterates the vocabulary word through examples or synonyms and non examples or antonyms. The goal of this chart is to develop a deeper understanding of a word and its relationship to our own lives.
Comprehension improves when students understand the meaning of the word. Although there are many beloved touchstone texts that generate a passion for vocabulary instruction, I’ve never had as much fun as when my class studied Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster by Debra Frasier. This interactive story promotes vocabulary awareness and provides a concrete understanding of why it’s important to understand the meaning of a word.
About the Author
Cheryl Saoud is a second grade teacher from Jacksonville, Florida. Cheryl is an author for both Primary Graffiti and Teaching Blog Addicts. She would like to invite you to visit for many creative teaching ideas.