What does the research tell us about vocabulary instruction?
• Frequent exposure to targeted vocabulary words. Biemiller and Boote (2006) found that repeated reading of a storybook resulted in greater average gains in word knowledge for young children.
• Explicit instruction of targeted vocabulary words. Biemiller and Boote (2006) also found that word explanations taught directly during the reading of a storybook enhanced children’s understanding of word meanings. Nash and Snowling (2006) found that using a contextual approach to instruction produced greater vocabulary gains than lessons that emphasized learning word definitions.
• Questioning and language engagement. Scaffolding questions, that is, moving from low-demand questions to high-demand questions, promotes greater gains in word learning (Blewitt, Rump, Shealy, & Cook, 2009). Vocabulary instruction should include teacher-student activities and interactive activities that target new words (Coyne, McCoach & Kapp, 2007).
In summary, active vocabulary instruction should permeate a classroom and contain rich and interesting information. Vocabulary instruction should cover many words that have been skillfully and carefully chosen to reduce vocabulary gaps and improve students’ abilities to apply word knowledge to the task of comprehension.
Text Talk is an approach to read alouds that is designed to enhance young children’s ability to construct meaning from decontextualized language. (Beck & McKeown, 2001; Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002).
Utah Reading First educators created a collection of Text Talk lessons sparked from the work of Beck and McKeown’s research and findings.
These lessons provide educators with a resource to accomplish the complex and demanding task of developing children’s literacy using read-alouds. The ultimate goal of a Text Talk lesson is twofold:
1.) Getting children to talk about the text, considering
ideas using decontextualized language to improve comprehension, and
2.) the acquisition of vocabulary.
In order to increase comprehension, teachers are reading while adding interspersed discussion to focus, monitor, and scaffold learning; helping the children to respond to the text rather than the illustrations. Discussions are based on the actual text instead of permitting students’ responses to rely strictly on their background knowledge.
The lessons are non-graded for K-6. Click on this link to see sample Text Talk lessons created by Utah Reading First Educators! There are 101 different lessons.