Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Maybe it’s all about vocabulary?

Vacca & Vacca (2005) in their book, Reading in the Content Areas, state, “There is a strong connection between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension. So when students are reading text with no understanding of the concepts they will not be able to fully understand what they are reading.

This chapter in the book focused on how teachers can use concept mapping, OPIN, magic squares, word exploration, brainstorming, list-group-label, word sorts, concept circle and modified cloze passages to help with the concepts. Teaching vocabulary words also helps students to make connections to what they already know to what they will encounter as they read/research.

Reflection: This was like a light bulb moment for me! How often do we give students a research project to which they really know nothing or very little about? Perhaps we need to give some basic vocabulary first so that as they encounter these new words they will be able to make better sense of what they are reading. The other thing that comes to mind is when they are internet searching how many times are they reading articles way above their reading level (especially if the content is new to them!) This I have known for a long time and this is a frequent complaint by students! If it is too hard they just keep moving from one article to the next. When I start off an Internet Project with students I tell them they should start off in the databases available to them. We have Destiny Online Library Catalog that has a WebExpress feature. So if students are searching for sharks they will only get the ones swimming in the ocean and not the loan sharks. The websites are all looked at by educators and have either K-5, 6-9 or 10-12 grade level next to the article so students can make sure they will be able to read the article. Some databases such as INFOhio allow students to search by grade level and some are even lexiled.
So vocabulary is important---for many reasons but especially when students are reading digitally!

Vacca, R. & Vacca, J. (2005). Content area
reading: Literacy and learning across the curriculum.
New York, NY:
Prentice Hall.

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