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Vocabulary Instruction in the Elementary Classroom*
 
Course Description
    

In this workshop, participants will examine best practices for building the breadth and depth of vocabulary for both comprehension and written expression in grades three through five.  Participants will learn the importance of creating a word-conscious learning environment that encourages motivation and interest in learning new words.  They will learn how to model and to encourage independent word-learning strategies that their students can apply while engaging in wide and varied reading. They will also explore the value of instructing students in grades 3-5 how to infer the meaning of words from context and word parts.  For their final project, participants will incorporate components of a balanced vocabulary program by designing a vocabulary lesson based on a classroom text—either fiction or non-fiction.

*This course was designed for participants who are currently teaching in an elementary school or who have previous experience teaching in and elementary school.

 
Course Syllabus
    

In this workshop, participants will examine best practices for building the breadth and depth of vocabulary for both comprehension and written expression in grades three through five.  Participants will learn the importance of creating a word-conscious learning environment that encourages motivation and interest in learning new words.  They will learn how to model and to encourage independent word-learning strategies that their students can apply while engaging in wide and varied reading. They will also explore the value of instructing students in grades 3-5 how to infer the meaning of words from context and word parts.  For their final project, participants will incorporate components of a balanced vocabulary program by designing a vocabulary lesson based on a classroom text—either fiction or non-fiction.

 

Prerequisites

This is an introductory workshop for teachers, technology specialists, curriculum specialists, professional development specialists, or other school personnel. Participants are expected to have regular access to computers, and proficiency with email and current web-browsers.

Goals 

This workshop will enable participants to explore best practices for engaging and motivating students in grades three through five to build vocabulary.  Participants will examine teaching strategies for building both the breadth and depth of students’ vocabulary for comprehension and written expression.

This workshop will enable participants to:

  • Create a learning environment that encourages motivation and interest in learning new words—word-consciousness
  • Encourage independent word-learning strategies while engaging in wide and varied reading
  • Design explicit instruction in the definitional and contextual meanings of words
  • Evaluate text and select words to study that are critical to comprehension and frequently appear in a wide variety of texts
  • Design vocabulary instruction to teach concepts central to content area studies
  • Implement instruction that addresses how to infer meaning through structural analysis, including inferring meaning from common Greek and Latin roots
  • Informally assess students’ vocabulary knowledge to inform further classroom instruction
  • Incorporate a balanced vocabulary program into their language arts and content area curriculum

Assessment and Course Requirements 

Each session includes readings, an activity, and a discussion assignment, which participants are required to complete.  Participants are expected to be engaged in course activities for approximately 30 hours during the six- session course.

Course Products

As a final project, participants will design a vocabulary lesson based on a classroom text that is either fiction or non-fiction.  Participants will select words by using the criteria presented in the workshop and plan for explicit instruction in both the definitional and contextual meaning of the words. Finally, participants will devise an informal assessment to determine students' understanding of word meanings.

Discussion Participation

Participants will be evaluated on the frequency and quality of their discussion board participation.  Participants are required to post a minimum of two substantial postings each session, including one that begins a new thread and one that responds to an existing thread. Postings that begin new threads will be reviewed based on their relevance, demonstrated understanding of course concepts, examples cited, and overall quality.  Postings that respond to other participants will be evaluated on relevance, degree to which they extend the discussion, and tone.

Workshop Sessions

Session One: Challenges and Solutions of Effective Vocabulary Instruction

In this session, participants will:

  • Learn how to promote word-learning behaviors during read-alouds and classroom discussions about interesting and unfamiliar words
  • Learn how to promote word consciousness in a rich verbal environment
  • Discuss strategies for encouraging students to apply word consciousness to their own independent reading

Session Two: Selecting Words to Teach

In this session, participants will:

  • Learn how to select Tier Two words that are most necessary for comprehension and have the highest utility
  • Begin the final project by selecting Tier Two words from a text that they can use in their classroom
  • Discuss the utility, as well as the challenges, of using the Tier Two criteria for selecting words for rich instruction

 Session Three: Providing Explicit Instruction for Specific Words

In this session, participants will:

  • Learn how to provide vocabulary instruction in both definitional and contextual information in order to improve comprehension
  • Read about strategies for teaching the core meanings of words such as generating synonyms and examples
  • Read about strategies for teaching for contextual knowledge such as exploring how a word functions in different contexts
  • View how a teacher draws on students’ background knowledge to build word meaning and discuss what participants could bring back to their own classroom
  • Select activities that address the definitional and contextual information about the words for their final project

Session Four: Teaching Concepts for Content Area Vocabulary Development

In this session, participants will:

  • Understand that word meanings are effectively learned in relation to other word meanings
  • Identify key concepts in non-fiction necessary for understanding text
  • Understand that word discussions around graphic organizers are an effective instructional strategy to teach key concepts in content areas
  • Explore examples of graphic organizers and choose one that participants can use for their final project
  • View a video of a teacher using a graphic organizer to focus discussion about the meaning of a concept and explain how this teaching tool helped students better understand the concept

 Session Five: Teaching Word Learning Strategies

In this session, participants will:

  • Understand that structural analysis—understanding word roots and affixes—provides information for inferring the meaning of words
  • Learn how to teach common Greek or Latin roots, especially as they appear in content-area words and concepts that are part of the curriculum
  • Explore an online dictionary to better understand the value of using one in their classroom
  • Reflect on how the teacher’s breaking the concept into roots contributed to student understanding in the video

Session Six: Assessing Vocabulary Knowledge

In this session, participants will:

  • Learn ways to assess vocabulary knowledge informally in the context of curriculum to inform instruction
  • Modify an informal assessment, the knowledge-rating checklist, for the final project
  • Complete the final project

Final Project

For the final project, participants will select a text (fiction or non-fiction) used in their classroom curriculum and design a lesson to provide direct instruction for the vocabulary words they identify in that text. Participants will begin their final projects as early as Session 2, completing the parts of the project that are identified in the individual sessions. They will use the template and rubric provided to guide the lesson plan.

Assignments and Discussions

Readings and Activities: Participants are expected to complete the required course readings and activities as posted in each of the session assignment pages. Optional readings may also be completed, but are not mandatory. There is a required orientation quiz and both pre-course and post-course surveys.

Orientation Quiz & Workshop Surveys: Participants must complete an Orientation Quiz with a score of 90% or higher.  In addition, participants are expected to complete both a pre-course and a post-course surveys. The Orientation Survey is to be completed by Sunday during the Orientation Session and the Final Survey is to be completed by Sunday during Session Six.

Discussion Participation: Participants will be evaluated weekly on the frequency and quality of their participation in the discussion forum.  Participants are required to post a minimum of one substantial original posting each session in response to the discussion prompt for that session by Sunday evening. Participants are to respond thoughtfully to a minimum of two colleagues' original postings each session by Monday evening. They are to read all original messages by course participants and enough additional responses to make a total of 50% of the messages posted for that session by Tuesday evening. Postings will be evaluated on their relevance, demonstrated understanding of course concepts, examples cited and overall quality.  

Copyright and Plagiarism

All resources referenced during the course will be properly documented. Copyright guidelines are to be observed throughout the course project and all course activities.  All work associated with course projects, course assignments and course discussions will be original to each course participant. Fair use does not apply to the course project. 

Plagiarism, the reproduction of all or any part of another individual’s or organization’s work, by a course participant of work associated with the course project or other course assignments at any point during the course will result in no credit being awarded for the course.

Grades

All grades in the course gradebook must be a "C" for successful course completion.  A grade of "C" indicates that all work has been completed and the work meets the expectations for that assignment.

The grade scheme for this course will be:
C = all work meets the guidelines provided
I = the work submitted is incomplete and/or does not meet the guidelines provided
N = no work has been submitted 

 

Upon successful completion of this course, Rubrics Used for Student Assessment, participants will receive a Certificate of Completion documenting successful completion of the course requirements. Certificates are distributed by attachment to the final course project dropbox shortly after the completion of the course.Graduate Credit Information

Non-Degree Graduate Credit

Participants in this course are eligible to receive non-degree graduate credits from either West Virginia University, Marshall University, West Virginia State University or Concord University. Credits will be awarded at the end of the semester in which the course occurs. Additional information is available on the course News/Welcome Page.

 

This workshop was developed by EdTech Leaders Online (http://edtechleaders.org) at Education Development Center, in partnership with Alabama Public Television (http://www.aptv.org/), and the e-Learning for Educators project, funded by a US Department of Education Ready to Teach grant. EdTech Leaders Online provides capacity-building training and online courses for school districts, state departments of education, and colleges and universities. Alabama Public Television is the nation's first educational television network and is the lead agency coordinating the eight state E-Learning for Educators collaboration, comprised of state departments of education and public television stations in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.