Friday, February 20, 2015

Importance of Vocabulary in the Literacy Instructional Block

Last week I attended the Literacy Partnership meeting focused on the importance of vocabulary instruction. My colleague, Tracey Martineau presented on the importance of vocabulary instruction as part of the core literacy instructional block. This week I wanted to highlight some research on vocabulary instruction and ways to increase the knowledge of words in the classroom.

Hart & Risley published a research study on students' early childhood language experiences. When you look at the graph below, it is shocking and worrisome to see how quickly a word deficit grows across socioeconomic groups.

There are two important articles worth taking the time to read; Four Practical Principles for Enhancing Vocabulary Instruction and Interrupting the Cycle of Word Poverty. These two publications discuss the value of deliberate vocabulary instruction as part of the literacy instructional block. In addition to the research, they offer instructional ideas and resources to bring back to the classroom.

As teachers, you play a crucial role in your students vocabulary development. My colleague Tracey Martineau would challenge us to think about the language we use with our students. Are we increasing our language and setting a high standard? Are we using those tier 2 words actively? It is food for thought.

Another way to increase vocabulary, could be a minor tweak by using synonyms for common phrases and throughout the day. For example, for the elementary and middle school teachers, how many times do you say, "Come to the rug."? What about instead using the phrase, "Congregate on the rug.", or "Assemble on the rug." There are creative ways we can increase the vocabulary heard throughout the school day. And, always remember one of the best ways to expose students to words is to read aloud, and have them read, read, read.

Monday, February 9, 2015

End of Year PARCC Practice Test has Arrived!

It has taken some time, but the End of Year (EOY) PARCC Practice Assessment has arrived. Currently, we are all focused on the Performance Based Assessment  (PBA), which will be administered in less than a month. However, when perusing the PARCC website, or unsure of how to spend another snow day, it is worth your time to try a End of the Year Assessment. To try one of these tests, click here.

As a reminder the End of the Year Assessment (EOY) consists of multiple choice type questions. In addition to your traditional multiple choice, this test includes drop and drag, sequencing and multiple select answers. Unlike the PBA assessment administered in March, the EOY will not require student to provide written responses.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Need Classroom Resources?!

Last week I sat with a literacy specialist who was worried about providing her teachers with the resources needed for an upcoming author study. Together we created a Donor's Choose Project and within a week, her wish list was fully funded by donor's. If you are not familiar with Donor's Choose, it is a wonderful site built for teachers to post projects that outline resources that would be used in the classroom. Teachers can post projects that request resources such as books, classroom technology, field trips, and speakers, to just name a few!

To sign up is easy, all you have to do is create a free account on Once you have your account, you can create a new project. Your project will outline a little bit about the classroom and student population, shop for the resources you desire, describe the project and how it will impact the students in your classroom. It is easy, and it works! I personally, have had three projects funded, and know countless others who rely on this resource to build classroom libraries and student sets of books.

Or if you are feeling philanthropic, you could look on this site and fund other projects that are posted! So, check it out. It is a great site, which respects and helps teachers from around the country.