All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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Hot Topics in Adolescent Literacy


Vocabulary refers to the words we must know to communicate effectively. In school terms, it can be described as oral vocabulary or reading vocabulary. This section provides information about effective vocabulary instruction and the relationship between vocabulary and comprehension.


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Root Words, Roots and Affixes

Familiarity with Greek and Latin roots, as well as prefixes and suffixes, can help students understand the meaning of new words. This article includes many of the most common examples.

Developing "Student-Owned" Vocabulary

Students should learn specific vocabulary and academic language to comprehend content text, but they should also become independent in understanding and owning vocabulary. This article offers tips for developing students' "vocabulary ownership."

Teach Students How to Fluently Read Multisyllabic Content Vocabulary

Dysfluent readers are so consumed with word identification that they cannot focus on extracting or constructing meaning from the text. Here are some activities to develop students' fluency skills, so that they may move on to access content. See also Develop Fluency Using Content-Based Texts.

Teach Vocabulary by Building Background Knowledge

Students need to develop an extensive vocabulary to read with fluency. In turn, fluency in reading leads to increased comprehension. Fluency also comes from the written language of the reader since the student writes words he or she knows. Increased comprehension enhances the written language of the learner.

Key Literacy Component: Vocabulary

What’s in a word? Mastery of oral and written vocabulary promotes comprehension and communication. Find out how proper instruction can help students who struggle with vocabulary.

Explicit Vocabulary Instruction

Vocabulary instruction is an important part of reading and language arts classes, as well as content-area classes such as science and social studies. By giving students explicit instruction in vocabulary, teachers help them learn the meaning of new words and strengthen their independent skills of constructing the meaning of text.

Developing Academic Language: Got Words?

Concerns about how to build academic vocabulary and weave its instruction into curricula are common among classroom teachers. This article reviews the research and offers some practical suggestions for teachers.

Linking the Language: A Cross-Disciplinary Vocabulary Approach

A strategy for vocabulary instruction that involves introducing new vocabulary in related clusters. This approach can help diverse learners, including English-minority students, make important vocabulary connections.

Use and Teach Content Vocabulary Daily

Copying definitions from the dictionary and memorizing words for tests is not sufficient work for students to master and retain new vocabulary. This article helps teachers choose which words are most important to teach and suggests strategies to bring those words to life for students.

Teaching Word Meanings as Concepts

The most effective vocabulary instruction teaches word meanings as concepts; it connects the words being taught with their context and with the students' prior knowledge. Six techniques have proven especially effective: Concept Definition Maps, Semantic Mapping, Semantic Feature Mapping, Possible Sentences, Comparing and Contrasting, and Teaching Word Parts.

The Components of Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Effective vocabulary instruction begins with diverse opportunities for word learning: wide reading, high-quality oral language, word consciousness, explicit instruction of specific words, and independent word-learning strategies. This article explains how these opportunities can be created in the classroom.

Some Obstacles to Vocabulary Development

A strong vocabulary, both written and spoken, requires more than a dictionary. In fact, it requires an educational commitment to overcoming four obstacles: the size of the task (the number of words students need to learn is exceedingly large), the differences between spoken and written English, the limitations of information sources including dictionaries, and the complexity of word knowledge (simple memorization is not enough). Learn more about these challenges to acquiring the 2,500 words a student needs to add each year to their reading vocabulary.

The Clarifying Routine: Elaborating Vocabulary Instruction

The more a new vocabulary word is associated with ideas from students' own experience, the more likely the word will become well 'networked' and a permanent part of memory. Making these links involves elaborating definitions of new terms. This article offers teachers several ways to facilitate elaboration.

Questions About Vocabulary Instruction

This article answers four common questions teachers have about vocabulary instruction, including what words to teach and how well students should know vocabulary words.

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