Teaching Vocabulary Syllabus
Spring 2022 Semester
February 7 – May 27, 2022
At present, 25% of New York City public school students have IEP’s and 61% of long-term English Language Learners were born and raised in the USA. With explicit instruction and sufficient correct practice, language and literacy can be taught. It is time to stop waiting for students to discover how to read and write on their own. In The Simple View of Reading, 1986, Gough and Turner posit that good reading requires proficiency in both reading and language comprehension. This workshop will address this simple view of reading, by providing instructional strategies in three of the five pillars of reading: phonological awareness, phonics and vocabulary, because mastery of those pillars leads to proficiency in fluency and comprehension as well. It will concentrate on building a foundation of word recognition skills and enabling teachers and students to build a large and varied working vocabulary and strategies for acquiring new words.
It will specifically address the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students, whose language comprehension may not match the demands of the school system. Those needs include activities that include and validate the students’ language and experience, as English is constantly being enriched by language and experiences that are not “standard.” Participants will embrace the idea of expanding vocabulary, not substituting one word for another. They will discuss and practice strategies for using students’ vocabulary to enhance their own.
Participants will learn a variety of quick and easy activities and drills to teach phonological awareness and phonics effectively and efficiently. They will also learn to teach vocabulary formally and informally, using morphology, syntax and context clues, explicit instruction and correct practice in targeted words, and by embedding vocabulary development into every activity during the school day.
Participants will also practice designing quick and effective assessments which, instead of diagnosing students’ deficiencies, will reinforce skills taught and measure impact the impact of that instruction on students.
Target Grade Levels
Integration of Danielson Framework for Teaching Components
1a: Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy. Generations of literacy experts, such as Catherine Snow, Stephen Krashen, Marianne Wolf and Timothy Rasinski, have written on the importance of oral and written vocabulary development as the basis for fluency and comprehension. Participants will have an overview of that research as it applies to the five pillars of reading, the differences between social and academic language, and, especially when working with culturally and linguistically diverse students, the difference between labels and concept. As every subject area has a distinct vocabulary and a distinct approach to learning, the first step in (1a) is for teachers themselves to be conversant in that vocabulary and approach. The second step to impart that knowledge in meaningful, engaging, and constructive ways. In all cases, teachers must teach explicitly and provide opportunities for correct practice of both key vocabulary and content knowledge. In all cases, teachers must elicit and include students’ prior knowledge and experience to amplify learning and fill in the gaps. Through participatory exploration of the five pillars of reading, emphasizing oral and written vocabulary development participants will expand their own vocabulary and teaching methodology. They will also learn formal drills, exercises and games for teaching and reinforcing vocabulary and concepts, as well as ways to embed these quick and engaging activities into the regular school day – at lineup, as lesson starters, transition exercises and word wall activities, as well as part of complete content lessons.
3c –Engaging Students in Learning: In her book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students, Zaretta Hammond posits that humans learn best through games, social interaction and storytelling. Reuven Feuerstein posits the same in his call for “mediated experience.” Participants will learn strategies for embedding games, social interaction and stories for maximizing oral language development as a prelude to literacy and content knowledge, and as an end in itself. On Day 1, participants will learn a repertoire of simple activities involving the four modalities of language (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and five aspects of linguistics (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics), which can be embedded in all lessons to extend and reinforce oral language proficiency and vocabulary development. To model the impact of engagement, participants will experience a variety of activities that will make the content fun and memorable to learn. Instructors will model these activities and break down the key components so that teachers will be able to design and implement similar learning experiences in their classrooms. Throughout the course, participants will be required to take an active role in their learning, such as participating oral language games, choosing and reading picture books aloud, devising “what if…?”
Participants will engage in two hands-on lessons, one in art and one in science to demonstrate the power of mediated experience and hands-on reinforcement of vocabulary and content. They will participate in following instructions, developing strategies, debriefing and presenting their work. They will discuss the difference between concepts and labels as they apply to their students. (An English Language Learner who lived where it rained probably knows what an umbrella is although s/he might have a different label for it. A student who came from a desert environment might have never seen an umbrella but might be familiar with what we call a parasol.)
Participants will be grouped in breakout sessions throughout the course, with pairings and small group work allowing teachers of similar grades to work together on appropriate activities, vocabulary and lesson planning. In making their presentations and writing their lessons, participants will be mindful of Expectations for Learning, Directions and Procedures, Explanations of Content, and Use of Oral and Written Language.
Different learning styles will be addressed, as well as the respect due to students who prefer to work alone.