One forgets words as one forgets names. One’s vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die.- Evelyn Waugh
Is it possible to overstate the value of words? Our ability to function in today’s complex world is determined by our language skills. We use expressive vocabularies to speak, receptive vocabularies to listen and comprehend, and literate vocabularies to read and write. A large vocabulary is reflective of high levels of reading achievement. Yet, often, vocabulary instruction is over-looked in schools today as other skills get pushed to the forefront.
We used the iPads last year for phonics practice as well as vocabulary acquisition. Our Tier 1 words (sight words), we practiced in several apps, most notably Spelling 1-2 and Spelling Bee. We worked on Tier 2 words (essential for understanding text, non-redundant words) in Montessori Crosswords and our Magnet board apps. Tier 3 words (infrequently used, subject specific words) can also be practiced with these apps. These apps allow for many opportunities to talk about and work with words.
Young students learn to communicate through listening and speaking. As students learn to read, they develop fluency and automaticity through rapidly using decoding strategies. A large amount of attention in the early grades is placed on high frequency words. These are very important for emerging readers. However, it can’t stop there. We must increase comprehension through the use of Tier 2 and 3 words. Research is showing that in 4,469 minutes of reading instruction, only 19 of those minutes went toward vocabulary instruction and acquisition.
The most recently released study of international reading achievement provides some strong evidence that the weakness in U.S. student performance is not the result of decoding problems or inability to comprehend narrative texts. Instead, it seems to be due to weakness in ability to comprehend. informational texts (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, 2003). 80% of text that adults read is informational.
Through the iBooks Author software, I was able to create a few high-interest non-fiction texts that were on my students individual reading levels last year. By having these texts on their iPads, they have them handy whenever they want to read. I have also downloaded the I Like Books app. It is a collection of 30 (free) non-fiction books.
Through the use of these reading apps and the apps mentioned above for practicing vocabulary, I am able to increase the rigor in vocabulary instruction.
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