RM Winter 2016 FLIP

They’re Not Too Young: Unpacking Vocabulary Strategies for Use with K-2 Students

Koti L. Hubbard, Clemson University, Rachael L. Huber, Clemson University and Leslie A. Salley, Clemson University

Reading Matters Teaching Matters

ABSTRACT —This article highlights, through examples from classrooms, the possibilities of modifying vocabulary strategies intended for use in upper and secondary grades to use with young learners. The authors introduce three strategies, Preview-Predict- Confirm (PPC), Listen Sketch Label, and the Frayer Model, and provide examples of their use in primary classrooms. These instructional strategies were used during read-alouds of informational texts with the purpose of expanding students’ content specific vocabulary. Read-alouds are established as a widely accepted instructional method for teaching vocabulary in the primary grades. As Miss Brown prepared to teach a thematic unit on pumpkins with her kindergarten students in late October, she knew she wanted them to internalize the vocabulary introduced during the three-week unit. Miss Brown planned to read informational texts aloud as a primary source of science content during the unit. She carefully combed through texts to determine the important terms her students would need to grasp in order to comprehend the material. Although these texts provide an introduction to new and interesting words, she knew this one- time exposure during read-alouds would not be enough for her students to understand the vocabulary introduced. She began to seek out vocabulary strategies to use in her classroom. Miss Brown found several vocabulary strategies that were well suited for the upper grade levels, but what could she use for kindergartners? There were not many options. She knew that she would have to modify and scaffold the vocabulary strategies created for the upper grades to meet the distinct needs of her young learners. Vocabulary and Read-Alouds Read-alouds provide a venue for rich and diverse language (Kindle, 2009), which does not typically occur in our everyday conversation. On their own, read-alouds are considered an instructional approach for implicitly teaching new and interesting words within a context (Nagy, Herman, & Anderson, 1985; Newton, Padak, & Rasinski, 2008). While reading aloud a text, students incidentally learn vocabulary through exposure (Carey, 1978), and teachers have opportunities to explicitly teach vocabulary words (Antonacci & O’Callaghan, 2012). Repeated readings of these texts, and therefore repeated exposure to the vocabulary, provide students with a deeper understanding of new words (Biemiller & Boote, 2006; Carey, 1978; Dale, 1965). Vocabulary Strategies Many existing vocabulary instructional strategies are geared

towards working with upper elementary and adolescent students. We found that we were able to modify these strategies to work for younger children, particularly those strategies requiring a higher level of independence and writing skills than many young children are capable of demonstrating in the early grades. While working with students to encourage greater skill and independence, each strategy allows a gradual release of responsibility. For example, teachers working with pre-writers would need to complete all of the writing tasks; however, students in the invented spelling stage may have the ability to take on more writing responsibility. With a host of preexisting vocabulary strategies, early childhood educators should take advantage of the opportunity to modify and scaffold these strategies to meet the needs of their students. Below are a few examples of how this has been done in the classroom. Preview-Predict-Confirm According to the work of Yopp and Yopp (2004), Preview- Predict-Confirm (PPC) is an instructional strategy that encourages students to think about vocabulary relevant to the informational text prior to being read aloud. By encouraging students to activate prior knowledge and predict vocabulary before reading a text, students’ comprehension during the read-aloud should improve (Alvermann, Smith, Readence, 1985; Bransford & Johnson, 1972). Critical to PPC is the opportunity for students to engage with each other and share their vocabulary knowledge related to the topic, while expanding on what they already know. Preview-Predict-Confirm in the classroom. Miss Brown used PPC in the classroom with her kindergarteners during her thematic unit on pumpkins. Using The Pumpkin Book , by Gail Gibbons, Miss Brown sat in front of her class, flipped through the pages of the text, and discussed some of the pictures before she turns the page. Following the preview of the book, Miss Brown asked for volunteers to share their predictions of any words they think the author might have used. Miss Brown modeled this procedure with the students by saying, “I think the author might use the word ‘gardener’ because I saw several pictures of people working in a garden, and I know pumpkins can grow in a garden.” Students then moved to literacy centers while Miss Brown worked with small groups. Miss Brown realized her students were not ready to work without guidance in small groups on the next task, so she modified this instructional approach to support students through the process. In small groups, Miss Brown wrote down other predictions students shared on blank cards and then instructed them to find words that can be grouped together in a meaningful way. Miss Brown modeled this process for her

| 48 | Reading Matters | Volume 16 • Winter 2016 | scira.org


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