Literacy Matters Vol 24 Winter 2024

Teaching Technique Project: Incorporating Intensive Vocabulary Using Read Alouds

by Meaghan Hoffman and Andrea Crenshaw

Framework for Incorporating Intensive Vocabulary Using Read Alouds For students to understand the content being presented, students should not only be aware of but come to understand the meaning of crucial vocabulary within a unit. Teachers must have purposeful and planned read alouds in many early childhood classrooms. To increase the vocabulary of such young learners, certain words should be targeted for understanding and use in verbal conversation in the classroom. This approach requires an intensive tiered approach to develop vocabulary while implementing shared reading with students. This tiered approach helps determine the priority and importance of vocabulary words (Goldstein et al., 2017).

ABSTRACT —Children enter school with varied differences in vocabulary understanding (Coyne et al., 2009), and these differences growmore significant in the early grades (Biemiller & Boote, 2006). As such, vocabulary understanding directly impacts reading and writing comprehension (McGregor et al., 2021). On a larger scale, this challenges educators not to limit the usage of vocabulary words in a small group setting but to use them in conversation throughout the school day and“push in” these words in relevant contexts to support literacy development. This paper outlines how to implement intensive vocabulary instruction using the shared read aloud strategy in an early childhood classroom to develop vocabulary understanding and usage. Implications are further discussed after concluding the discussion on implementing intensive vocabulary instruction. Background Reading aloud to children is recommended in early childhood and primary-grade classrooms that promote enhanced vocabulary growth (Kindle, 2010). Some students come to school with advanced levels of vocabulary acquisition, while others do not. This places some students at an advantage over others. Gibbs and Reed (2021) suggest, “Many students enter school exhibiting a risk for reading difficulties because they lack the oral language development of peers who have had more exposure to rich vocabulary” (p. 287). As such, teachers must recognize that students vary in the type of literacy experiences they receive outside of schools and differentiate literacy practices to support their students’ diversity of literacy experiences to ensure literacy instruction is responsive. Read alouds also serve an important role in the literacy development of culturally and linguistically diverse children. As teachers read engaging texts, they serve as “literate role models,” sharing their love of books and reading with their students (Au, 1998, p. 21). For some students, such role models may not be available outside of school (Toppel, 2015). Students’ cultural backgrounds should be considered when selecting literature for the classroom. Our cultures comprise a large part of who we are as people and classroommembers. “Teachers should select literature that resonates with students’ identities as members of a specific cultural group and promotes the use of students’ background knowledge to assist vocabulary development and reading comprehension” (Gibbs & Reed, 2021, pp. 282-283). To help students with vocabulary, the stories should be relatable, exciting, and have something new to teach students.

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In particular, Tier 2 words are commonly used during read alouds and direct instruction since they focus on words used in many different content areas. In contrast, Tier 1 words are prevalent, high-frequency words that require little or no explicit instruction (Kelley et al., 2018). These strategies can be effectively incorporated before or after reading and embedded during the reading of the text. Below, we outline how to implement intensive vocabulary using read alouds to support diverse learners during literacy instruction. Before Reading Incorporating intensive vocabulary during read alouds requires teachers to select a text intentionally. Before beginning a read aloud, teachers can activate prior knowledge by facilitating discussions about what students already know about the topic (Hickman & Pollard-Durodola, 2009). Engaging with the text can include writing notes or bullet points of essential terms and incorporating visuals or pictures in the story. After Figure 1 Tiered Vocabulary Note . Word levels among the Tiers are based on frequency, complexity, and meaning.

Literacy Matters | Volume 24 • Winter 2024 | 31 |


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