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TressaRDG544 Wiki

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3 Recommendations on Critical Issues Concerning Individual Differences in Literacy Acquisition     

 1. Develop vocabulary via direct instruction.



2. Instruct using small group instruction and differentiate instruction. 



3. Implement a State approved Reading Intervention Program.



 It is important for teachers of early readers to identify critical issues in literacy in order to respond to individual differences in literacy acquisition. According to research, no single theory or approach can thoroughly explain the reading process for all readers." Therefore, the more perspective a teacher can bring to the "teaching table", the more tools that teacher can utilize; thus, giving the teacher a better chance of assisting learners in being successful readers (Cobb and Kallus).


As teachers, it is imperative that we not only “teach vocabulary”, but that “we also teach how we integrate the ways we use what we know to figure things out as we read.” It is believed that when we model our thinking (think aloud strategy/process), and ask students to explain their thinking process, we build habits that extend beyond a single lesson.


The first period of the twenty-first century is no longer upon us, and it has been characterized by better attention to student achievement due to the No Child Left Behind legislative act of 2001 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV7od-RU1Jw and a tenacious achievement gap for children of color, for children from families with low socioeconomic status (SES), and for children who are English Language Learners (ELLs). During this time there has been widespread acknowledgement that literacy development does continue beyond elementary school, and results in more attention to adolescents’ reading comprehension and their literacy demands within content areas. Two of the most important contributors to students’ reading comprehension and academic success are the bulk of their vocabulary upon entering school and their ability to learn new vocabulary, and with that learning continuing over time. A rareness of vocabulary knowledge in their first language (L1) and their second language (L2) is predominantly problematic for ELLs. Members of the Massachusetts Reading Association Studies and Research

Committee set out to determine what research from 2000 to 2010 had to say about vocabulary instruction. “The review revealed several categories of best practices for teaching all students, and specific considerations for working with special populations, including at risk learners, ELLs, and students with learning disabilities, as well as recommendations for content-area vocabulary instruction. The review also prompted a suggestion of what not to do, specifically, to avoid drill and practice! The commonly held understanding that wide reading and independent reading help build students’ vocabulary knowledge still holds, but it is now understood that struggling readers and students with poor vocabulary skills do not read enough and do not have a sufficient vocabulary foundation to independently learn enough vocabulary on their own to catch up to their peers.” Therefore, it means that vocabulary instruction must be deliberate; it should include direct instruction, and, in some instances, it should involve small group intervention in order to adequately support and accelerate students’ vocabulary development.

            According to Blachowicz, Ogle & Watts-Taffe, 2006; Vitale & Romance, 2008; Wood, Harmon & Hedrick, 2004, schools should be language-rich atmospheres where teachers and students attend to and celebrate linguistics in all forms and contexts, including orally, in writing, while reading, and in specific content areas. The following sections will attempt to synthesize the research findings, it will offer specific suggestions that teachers can use in their classrooms, it will offer recommendations for supporting the vocabulary development of the special needs students as well as the English Language Learners; it will offer suggestions for content area vocabulary instruction and it will offer school-level considerations.  


Vocabulary InstructionFrontPage

“Effective vocabulary instruction is multidimensional and deliberate. It is most effective when addressed on a school-wide basis and then implemented with consistent intensity across grades or subjects and within grade level classrooms. A school-wide or district-wide commitment to research-based vocabulary instruction can guarantee that there are consistent practices in all classrooms and that there is a communal effect on the development of students’ vocabulary across subjects and over the years. By creating language-rich learning environments where interesting, unusual, useful, emotional, controversial, and difficult words are noticed and celebrated, students become more attuned to language and accustomed to using sophisticated and academic language. A well-conceived plan for effective vocabulary instruction should include teacher input and

will require training for all teachers. Professional development that informs teachers about research-based alternatives to the traditional 20-word vocabulary test will help ensure that all teachers are equipped with the knowledge to make word-learning meaningful” (Baumann, Ware, & Edwards, 2007; Graves, 2009; VanDeWeghe, 2007). The two biggest considerations when planning effective vocabulary instruction are the selection of words to teach and the instructional practices used to help students learn.


2. Instructors can insure comprehension of written text and vocabulary growth to occur via direct instruction; they also serve to reinforce the importance of learning word meanings from encountering words in different contexts during free reading (Nagy & Anderson, 1984). Research supports that early identification of at-risk students is crucial, as is research-based small group instruction that supplements the whole class instruction. The goal of this type instruction is to get these at-risk learners caught up to their peers, which means their learning has to be accelerated. “Failure to identify these students at an early age and to provide targeted, robust instruction may result in the students getting further and further behind as the years progress - this is known as the Matthew Effects” (Stanovich, 1986). The RTI model’s format and terminology allowed, researchers to determine that whole group/class “(Tier 1) instruction alone is not enough to help at-risk students develop and accelerate their vocabulary development.” Primary grade students need vigorous Tier 1 general class instruction along with Tier 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9DPKgBrJQEs small group intervention instruction over a continuous period of time in order to see gains in vocabulary learning that is maintained over time. This instruction must be carefully planned and executed for a long enough period (more than 4-6 weeks) in order to achieve positive achievement results for at-risk students. Vocabulary instruction that includes the following four components has been shown to be effective with all students, but can help accelerate vocabulary growth for students who are below average in vocabulary knowledge on pre-tests: provide rich, varied language experiences teach individual words teach word-learning strategies and foster word consciousness. Loftus, Coyne, McCoach, Zipoli & Pullen, 2010; Pullen, Tuckwiller, Konold, Maynard & Coyne, 2010.) Just as with any student, the ELL student can learn at the same rate as their English-only peers when provided with instruction that has breadth and depth, instruction which includes direct instruction, and instruction which uses a multimodal approach, including songs, games and visual supports, to provide many avenues for student success. Many of the elements of vocabulary instruction that are recommended for all students are important to include when teaching ELLs, especially frequently used words and cognates. “Read Alouds of both fiction and nonfiction are beneficial in supporting ELL’s vocabulary acquisition, since receptive language develops prior to expressive language.”Effective vocabulary instruction for ELL students includes the following characteristics (Silverman, 2007):  introduction of words through the rich context of authentic children’s literature, provide clear, child-friendly definitions and explanations of target words, initiate questions and prompts to help children think critically about the meaning of words, examples of how words are used in other contexts, provide opportunities for children to act out the meaning of words when applicable,  provide visual aids illustrating the meaning of words in authentic contexts other than the book in which the word was introduced, provide  encouragement for children to pronounce words, provide guidance for children to notice the spelling of target words, allow opportunities for children to compare and contrast words, and repetition and reinforcement of the target word.


3. Since early readers may have some difficulty with phonemic awareness, as well as passage comprehension, I-Ready http://www.curriculumassociates.com/products/iready/diagnostic-instruction.aspx is recommended to address those needs for struggling readers or students who are faced with additional academic challenges. Instructors can ensure there struggling students' needs are being met by incorporating an intensive reading intervention program. I strongly recommend the diagnostic reading intervention program, I-Ready. I-Ready is a state approved program which can meet the needs of diverse learners while addressing Common Core State Standards https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IGD9oLofks I-Ready diagnostic and instruction is used in large public schools, as well as in small charter schools, and is found in all 50 states. Research shows that I-Ready has been shown to increase student outcomes. It is an online student assessment program that develops an action plan for the success of the student. The I-Ready program allows teachers to plan instruction based on individual student needs, therefore differentiating instruction.




Cobb, J. B., & Kallus, M. K. (2011). Historical, theoretical, and sociological foundations of reading in the United States. Boston, MA: Pearson Education


Baumann, J. F., Ware, D., & Edwards, E. C. (2007). "Bumping into spicy, tasty words that catch your tongue": A formative experiment on vocabulary instruction.Reading Teacher, 61(2), 108-122.


Blachowicz, C. L. Z., Fisher, P. J. L., Ogle, D., & Watts-Taffe, S. (2006). Vocabulary: Questions from the classroom. Reading Research Quarterly, 41(4), 524-539.


Graves, M. F. (2009). Teaching individual words. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


Loftus, S. M., Coyne, M. D., McCoach, D. B., Zipoli, R., & Pullen, P, C. (2010). Effects of a supplemental vocabulary intervention on the word knowledge of kindergarten students at risk for language and literacy difficulties. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 25(3), 124-136.


Nagy, W.E., Herman, P.A., & Anderson, R. C. (1984). How many words are there in printed school English? Reading Quarterly, 20, 233-253.



Silverman, R. (2007). Vocabulary development of English-language and English-only learners in kindergarten. The Elementary School Journal, 107(4), 365-383.


Stanovich, K. (1986). Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 21(4), 360-407.


VanDeWeghe, R. (2007). What about vocabulary instruction? English Journal, 97(1), 101-104.




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