Friday, April 17, 2009

Topic: Teaching Vocabulary in the Early Years

10-second review: Selecting and teaching words to be learned by the children.

Title: “Missing in Action: Vocabulary Instruction in Pre-K.” SB Neuman and J Dwyer. Reading Teacher (February 2009), pp. 384-392. A publication of the International Reading Association (IRA).

Summary: A key to vocabulary instruction at any level is to pre-teach unfamiliar words the students will encounter in their reading. The authors reviewed pre-K commercial texts to determine if they anticipated words children might not know in what they were about to read. “In teaching vocabulary words to be learned, did the curriculum explicitly identify words to be introduced to children prior to the instructional sequence, whether it be a story, poem or song?”

The authors found that most texts did identify words to teach. But—no rhyme or reason for selecting the words and very few imaginative techniques for pre-teaching them.

All in all, the authors concluded: “…our findings offer a rather stark portrait of vocabulary instruction in the early years.”

Some suggested techniques were teaching the words through actions; definitions; choral responses, i.e., repeating words; brainstorming words about a topic; picture cards and “manipulatives(?).” The authors suggest that “clearly, strategies that introduce children to new words and entice them to engage in meaningful contexts through semantically related activities are very much needed.” (?)

Comment: “Semantically” refers to word meanings. RayS.

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