Tuesday’s Teaching Tip – Vocabulary Ideas Pat Cunningham Style

Vocabulary….such an important thing to teach, but so easy to let it slide, isn’t it?  Why is it so important though?  Vocabulary is essential to understanding and deep thinking! Bottom line is this – students with a high level of vocabulary understand life, comprehend what they read, and learn during lessons far more than students with low levels of vocabulary.  The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, as they say, when it comes to vocabulary.  But it’s easy to think of vocabulary teaching as one more thing added to the plate, and to let it slide when the schedule gets packed.  How about some ideas for teaching it effectively within your already packed schedule?  

Pat Cunningham’s book, What Really Matters in Vocabulary: Research-Based Practices across the Curriculum, is packed full of great, best practice ideas.  Here’s just one of her great ideas she gives for teaching vocabulary well and easily through your readalouds.

1. Choose three “just right” Tier 2 words  from your story to teach, and write them on cards.
(They should be essential for comprehension of the story, likely to be encountered in other reading and lessons, and likely to be used in their lives.)

2. Read 1 – Read the text aloud and discuss it after for your teaching purposes, without referring to the words.

3. Read 2 – Show the words on cards and have students say the words aloud, but NOT define them, as it will spoil the thinking in the next part. Place the words so the students can see them. Read the text to them, but this time have them shout out stop, and say the word each time they hear you read it.  It might sound like this: “STOP! Predator!”   At that point, work together to use the pictures, context and word parts (root word, prefixes, suffixes) to explain the word.  Then have students turn and repeat to their neighbor what the word means. Each additional time the word is heard, stop and see if the students can add any new information to the understanding of the word.  Do this throughout the readaloud using all three words. 

4. When finished, have students turn to a partner and retell the story/text being sure to use the new words in their retell.  This can be done another day after a third read, if time is getting short during Read 2.

So there you go!  A super effective and easy way to teach vocabulary during your readaloud from the great reading mentor, Pat Cunningham.  Next time, we will look at another of her fabulous ideas.  

Happy Teaching!

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