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  1. Welcome!

  2. Building Vocabulary and Comprehension through Primary Read-Alouds Michael C. McKenna University of Virginia

  3. Today’s Goals • Understand why read-alouds are the best way to build vocabulary and comprehension in the primary grades • Be able to plan, conduct, and follow- up a read-aloud. • Examine differences between fiction and nonfiction read-alouds

  4. Why are read-alouds the best way to build vocabulary and comprehension?

  5. Why are read-alouds the best way to build vocabulary and comprehension? They may actually be the only way! Let’s look at some reasons.

  6. Why Read-Alouds ? • The teacher does the decoding. • Natural contexts for words are provided. • Authentic opportunities for modeling comprehension strategies occur. • Student engagement is likely. • Discussion is facilitated. • Words and strategies can be reinforced in new contexts all year long.

  7. But I can introduce vocabulary more efficiently without read-alouds.

  8. But I can introduce vocabulary more efficiently without read-alouds. Maybe, but if you did, you’d have to create an entire curriculum. That’s why so little is done.

  9. “Vocabulary levels diverge greatly during the primary years, and virtually nothing effective is done about this in schools.” (p. 29) Andy Biemiller Biemiller, A. (2004). Teaching vocabulary in the primary grades.In J.F. Baumann & E.J. Kame’enui (Eds.), Vocabulary instruction: Research to practice (pp. 28- 40). New York: Guilford.

  10. But the kids know lots of words. Why not just focus on teaching them to recognize the ones they know?

  11. But the kids know lots of words. Why not just focus on teaching them to recognize the ones they know? Why not do both? If you ignore vocabulary, the Matthew effect can be terrible.

  12. 50K 40K 30K 20K 10K 0 5,000 1,500 K 12

  13. 50K 40K 30K 20K 10K 0 45,000 17,000 5,000 1,500 K 12

  14. Oral vocabulary at the end of first grade is a significant predictor of comprehension ten years later. Cunningham, A.E., & Stanovich, K.E. (1997). Early reading acquisition and its relation to experience and ability 10 years later. Developmental Psychology, 33, 934-945.

  15. But how can a few read-alouds make a dent in that huge number of words?

  16. But how can a few read-alouds make a dent in that huge number of words? The cumulative effect might surprise you.

  17. “Adding three root words a day is the average daily number of words learned by primary age children with the largest vocabularies.” (p. 37) Andy Biemiller Biemiller, A. (2004). Teaching vocabulary in the primary grades.In J.F. Baumann & E.J. Kame’enui (Eds.), Vocabulary instruction: Research to practice (pp. 28- 40). New York: Guilford.

  18. “Adding three root words a day is the average daily number of words learned by primary age children with the largest vocabularies.” (p. 37) 3 words x 140 days  400 words per year Biemiller, A. (2004). Teaching vocabulary in the primary grades.In J.F. Baumann & E.J. Kame’enui (Eds.), Vocabulary instruction: Research to practice (pp. 28- 40). New York: Guilford.

  19. Why be so systematic? Why can’t the kids just rely on context?

  20. Why be so systematic? Why can’t the kids just rely on context? Context may not be as powerful as you think. And besides, many kids don’t use it.

  21. Four Types of Contexts Directive (provides powerful clues) “Sue was talkative but Bill was taciturn.” 2. General (helps categorize a word) “She’d had measles, mumps, and varicella.” 3. Nondirective (offers very little help) “The dress was taupe.” 4. Misdirective (can be misleading) “He was huge, muscular, and adroit.” – Beck & McKeown (2004)

  22. Teaching Students about Context • Remind them that context does not always provide strong clues. • Remember that many students may have difficulty making inferences about words from context. • Model the process when possible. – Beck & McKeown (2004)

  23. But what about comprehension? How do you teach strategies to kids who can’t read?

  24. But what about comprehension? How do you teach strategies to kids who can’t read? The alternative is to wait until they can read. If you do that, it may be too late.

  25. The Domino Theory Teach children to decode first, and put off vocabulary and comprehension instruction until later.

  26. The Domino Theory Teach children to decode first, and put off vocabulary and comprehension instruction until later.

  27. “[R]esearch has almost universally supported the idea that reading aloud to children leads to improved reading comprehension.” (p. 144) Smolkin & Donovan, 2002

  28. So which strategies do they need?

  29. So which strategies do they need? The National Reading Panel identified seven.

  30. NRP Findings on Comprehension • Many approaches have some level of research evidence. • For example, stressing mental images and mnemonics can be effective. • But seven instructional approaches have a clear scientific basis.

  31. Key Instructional Approaches Comprehension monitoring Cooperative learning Graphic and semantic organizers (esp. those stressing text structure) Question answering Question generation Summarization Combinations of 1-6

  32. Can you really plan to focus on comprehension and vocabulary in the same read-aloud?

  33. Can you really plan to focus on comprehension and vocabulary in the same read-aloud? Yes. We’re not trying to accomplish everything at once. But we can still target both areas with each read-aloud.

  34. What’s the difference between a fiction and a nonfiction read-aloud?

  35. What’s the difference between a fiction and a nonfiction read-aloud? There are differences in both vocabulary and comprehension strategy use.

  36. Let’s look at vocabulary first.

  37. Nonfiction Read-Alouds • Take advantage of clusters of related terms • Stress the connections among words • Preteach a few key terms • Use research-based methods: • Feature analysis • Other types of charts • Graphic Organizers

  38. egg adult larva pupa

  39. Insects Spiders Some can fly None can fly Some are poisonous All are poisonous 6 legs 8 legs

  40. Fiction Read-Alouds • Since the words will not be related and will not be essential to comprehending, do not preteach them. • After the read-aloud, create clusters by linking a new word to familiar words. • Use research-based methods, such as • Silly Questions • Word Wizards

  41. Even though words in a fiction read-aloud may be unrelated in meaning, you can still create meaningful clusters by using words already familiar to the children.

  42. Words Chosen From the Book fortunate scowl wary

  43. Familiar Words Words Chosen From the Book lucky chance fortunate scowl wary frown stare careful afraid

  44. Familiar Words Words Chosen From the Book lucky chance fortunate scowl wary frown stare careful afraid

  45. Familiar Words Words Chosen From the Book lucky chance fortunate scowl wary frown stare careful afraid

  46. For a fiction read-aloud, how do I know which words to teach?

  47. For a fiction read-aloud, how do I know which words to teach? Target what Beck and McKeown call Tier Two words.

  48. Two characteristics that make a word inappropriate for teaching: We can’t define it in terms that the students know. The students are not likely to find the word useful or interesting. – Beck & McKeown (2004)

  49. word family A group of words formed from a single root word history historic prehistoric historical historian

  50. Beck and McKeown’s Three Tiers Tier 3 • Rare words • 73,500 word families K-12 • Usually content-area related • Examples: isotope, estuary Tier 2 • Important to academic success • 7,000 word families • Not limited to one content area • Examples: fortunate, ridiculous Tier 1 • The most familiar words • 8,000 word families • Known by average 3rd grader • Examples: happy, go