"It has been our experience that students become interested
and enthusiastic about words when instruction is rich and lively."
Isabel Beck, Margaret McKeown, and
Linda Kucan, 2002
Maine Reading First Events
June 23 and 24~
Maine Reading First
Level II Summer Institute at the Sunday
June 27 and 28~
Maine Reading First Level I Summer Institute at the University of Maine at Presque Isle
June 30 and July 1~
Maine Reading First Level I Summer Institute at the
July 15~Maine Reading First Seminar for School Leaders at the Augusta Civic Center
"Teachers can make vocabulary meaningful and memorable for
students by anchoring new words in multiple contexts."
Connie Juel and
Rebecca Deffes, 2004
This is the second newsletter which is being devoted to one
of the five essential elements of reading instruction. The May edition of Literacy Links provided
an in-depth look at reading fluency.
If you did not receive a copy of the May edition, it can be accessed
This month's edition
of Literacy Links will focus on vocabulary.
There are four types of vocabulary: reading, writing,
speaking, and listening. These four vocabulary
types can be divided into two primary categories:
Receptive vocabulary refers to the words which are
recognized and understood through listening and reading.
Expressive vocabulary refers to the words which are
used to communicate ideas through speaking and writing.
size of each of the four vocabulary types increases as children develop into
adults. The size of each vocabulary
type in relation to the other types also changes over time. Young children have a large listening
vocabulary and a small reading vocabulary.
Adults, on the other hand, have a large reading vocabulary.
Students learn many vocabulary words indirectly through
engagement in conversations, listening to someone read to them, or reading
extensively on their own. However,
direct instruction is also a critical component of vocabulary
instruction. Direct instruction in
vocabulary includes instruction on the meanings of specific words as well as
instruction on the strategies needed for students to become independent word
Rich vocabulary instruction is characterized by
student's active engagement with new words both within and beyond the
classroom. Students need multiple and repeated exposures to new words in
order to increase the depth of their word knowledge. The level at which a student knows a word
progresses from unknown to acquainted to established. A student who has established knowledge of
a word is able to demonstrate the understanding and ability to use the word
within different contexts and across many situations. (Please see "Description of Instructional
Idea: Tier Two Words" for additional details about direct vocabulary
Summary of Professional Literacy Text.
to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction
Two of the leading researchers in the area of vocabulary,
Isabel Beck and Margaret McKeown, collaborated with a colleague, Linda Kucan,
to author Bringing Words to Life:
Robust Vocabulary Instruction. The
content of this book is based on the discoveries made from several research
studies conducted by Ms. Beck and Ms. McKeown. The authors begin the book by sharing the
definition, characteristics, and theory behind 'robust' vocabulary
instruction. They suggest that
vocabulary instruction should provide students with rich information about
new words, and experiences with new words should occur multiple times across
different situations. Ideas for
meaningful learning activities for both younger and older students are shared
in separate chapters of the book. Bringing Words to Life also shares
information and a list of books the authors have identified for use in Text
Talk, a research project aimed to enhance vocabulary and comprehension
development through expanding read alouds.
More information about Bringing
Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction can be obtained at http://www.guilford.com
Description of Instructional Idea.
Tier Two Words
The number of vocabulary words
which students need to learn is immense and it is impossible to teach all of
these words directly. It is critical
to recognize that not all words need the same attention. Isabel Beck and Margaret McKeown have
proposed the idea that vocabulary is comprised of three tiers.
Tier 1: Basic words that are learned
without direct attention or instruction.
Examples of Tier 1 words are clock,
baby, happy, and walk.
Tier 2: Words that are frequently and
commonly used across many contexts or domains. Examples of Tier 2 words are fortunate, absurd, coincidence, and industrious.
Tier 3: Words that are not frequently
used except in specific contexts or domains.
Examples of Tier 3 words are isotope,
peninsula, lathe, and refinery.
tier which should receive the greatest focus for direct instruction is Tier
2. Some questions to consider when
selecting Tier 2 words for instruction include:
How important and useful is the word?
What is the instructional potential of the word?
What role does the word play in communicating the meaning of the
context in which it is used?
begin selecting Tier 2 words for instruction from a text, list all of the
words that are likely to be unfamiliar to students. Analyze the list of words and identify
which words can be categorized as Tier 2 words. Further analyze the list by indicating
which of these Tier 2 words are most necessary for comprehension of the
text. Also consider which of these
Tier 2 words students already have ways with which to express the concepts
associated with the words. The final
determination is which words will receive brief attention and which words
will require more elaborate attention.
News from Maine
NOW for one of the
four Maine Reading First summer institutes.
Spaces are still available for the following events:
Maine Reading First Level I Summer
Institutes at either the University
of Maine at Presque
Isle or the Samoset Resort
Reading First Level II Summer Institute at the Sunday River
Maine Reading First Seminar for School
Leaders at the Augusta
and registration forms for all of these events can be accessed at