Saturday, March 27, 2010

Scaffolding Vocabulary Learning

The article by Lapp starts out by saying, "The proportion of difficult words found in a text and a reader's general vocabulary knowledge predict how well a reader can understand a text. Research also indicates that early differences in vocabulary knowledge affect reading achievement scores in later grades" (pg. 276). Having students focus on vocabulary development is only going to help them later on down the road when they are needing to read more complicated text and derive tougher meanings. Also, it is vital that students have exposure to vocabulary when they are young because the achievement gap is likely to be closer than farther apart. This article discusses the achievement gap in low income areas, because often times children are one or two grades behind reading achievement and word recognition than what they are supposed to be. Effective instruction needs to be administered to students all throughout their literacy learning because having early exposure will help them as they move on in their literacy development.

"Differences in the type of language structures, interaction styles, and vocabulary found in many homes means that the language of schooling is significantly different from the language many students encounter prior to entering school" (pg. 276). While it is important that students have exposure to language no matter where they are; in school or at home, we as teachers have to understand that the type of language being used at home may be very different than they type of language that is being presented in instruction time at school. Conversations between children and adults can be beneficial to their literacy learning and development of vocabulary. This type of conversation can come from simply communicating with children about their day or random small talk, but one of the most effective processes is to read aloud to children. "Findings from several studies indicate that reading aloud to students can contribute to vocabulary growth" (pg. 277). It is important for students to find strategies that can help them increase their exposure to vocabulary as well as their understanding of new words, and how those can be used in real life readings and writings.

Word learning and vocabulary development takes place over time and is not something that happens right away. It is a process and continues to develop even into adulthood. Although children have vocabulary explosions early on, they still learn vocabulary as they continue on in school, just not at such a rapid rate. Along with that, there are various different types of instruction that is to be implemented when teaching different types of words. Some words that are specific to a subject require conceptual learning/instruction because that way they can see how the word pertains to certain real life examples. The overall goal of vocabulary is to derive meaning from words and apply that in a bigger scheme of things that allows us to understand an overall meaning of the text. Developing word consciousness is important in creating an environment where students can understand words and the meanings of texts. Exposing low income students to vocabulary and increasing the amount of language they are familiar with, will close the vocabulary gap that has become ever so prevalent in our schools that are lacking resources and effective teachers who can deliver instruction.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's great that you incorporated the idea of language use at home versus language use at school. It's really easy to think that every child has the same experiences when they leave the classroom; i.e., that they all read with their parents and have lengthy conversations with their parents that relate to their school day, their developing understandings and experiences, etc. When in reality, the majority of students go home to an empty house, to their siblings whom ignore him/her, or to parents that while they may talk to their children, those conversations could be either highly innapropriate and unacceptable, etc. As teachers we have to fulfill more than one role in helping our students develop literacy and its very important that we don't forget that.