Increasing Students’ Vocabulary: Word Study in Action

Do you remember studying for the ACT or GRE? Did you buy the vocabulary flashcards or make your own? I remember the summer of 2009 as “The One With the GRE Flashcards” because I took them everywhere and reviewed them in every spare moment. Whether it was by the pool, in the DMV, at the doctor’s office, or at my kitchen table, my anxiety about memorizing the vocabulary words continued to increase. I remember wishing I had received better vocabulary instruction in school. The reality is, in many places, we still aren’t YET teaching vocabulary, or word study, well. The key word here is: YET.

Why 3rd Grade Literacy Is Pivotal

In my recent post about the current status of the academic gap, I stated that many agree that the academic gap is a literacy gap. As a result, many states and agencies have placed significant emphasis on literacy, focusing particularly on reading proficiency by 3rd grade. Why literacy and why this age? Well, the Anne E. Casey Foundation says 3rd grade reading has big implications, so let’s unpack that. 

The Truth Behind the Academic Gap

Education is meant to be the great equalizer for society, but reality shows continued disparity in terms of educational outcomes along the lines of race and income. The achievement gap, the opportunity gap, the academic gap—these all refer to a systemic difference in educational performance for students of color compared to their white peers or for students in poverty compared to students in more affluent communities. There is something wrong with a system that continues to replicate an outcome of inequity.

The Top TED Talks for Educators

Teaching is hard! As teachers we work with young people whose bodies are changing and causing them feelings that are difficult to understand. 

Their minds are curious and questioning, including questions like, “Why is this important to learn? Will I use this? Why do I have to come to school?” Teachers are constantly juggling investing students in the learning, managing classroom behavior, creating a positive classroom culture, and teaching the content to kids with different abilities.

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