Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Idea to Steal: Vocabulary

While flipping through storybooks today at the library, I found someone had left behind a sticky note on the endpaper of one. The sticky note listed five "hard" words from the book--words like impossible and spectacles. I don't know exactly what the note writer was up to, but if I were him or her, I'd be making a point to explain and define each of the hard words at appropriate moments during the read-aloud process. Maybe not the first time, or even the second time, but once the kid is comfortable with the book, you can pause and say, "Hey, do you know what spectacles are? Look, this wolf is wearing spectacles--that's another word for eyeglasses, glasses." I bring this up because one of the reaction articles in this Early Catastrophe response to the Hart-Risley research recommends "explicit vocabulary instruction." This book-based method would seem to be quite explicit, while also beautifully couched in the context of a living book. I just like the idea of being more alert, as a reader-aloud, to words that might confuse or otherwise elude a little kid, and making a point to address them specifically.

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