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Fostering vocabulary growth during interactive read-alouds in the grade one classroom Harkley, Sharon Winifred 2010-11

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FOSTERING VOCABULARY GROWTH DURING INTERACTIVE READ-ALOUDSIN THE GRADE ONE CLASSROOMBySHARON WINIFRED HARKLEYB.Ed (Elem.) The University o f British Columbia ' A GRADUATING PAPER SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTERS OF EDUCATION inTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of Language and Literacy EducationWe accept this major paper as conforming(Graduate Advisor)Dr. Marilyn Chapman THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA November 2010© S. W. HARKLEY, 2010Growing Vocabulary 1AbstractDuring a six-week instructional unit in a Grade One class, I investigated students’ abilities to learn specific target vocabulary during interactive read-alouds. Reading aloud to children provides a powerful context for word learning (Biemiller & Boote, 2006). Language and, specifically, vocabulary development play critical roles in early literacy development (Wasik, 2010, p. 621). During interactive read-alouds, teachers can focus their students’ attention to Tier 2 words -  “words that are of a high frequency for mature language users and are found across a variety of domains” (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002, p. 8). Knowing that active participation during interactive read- alouds is more conducive to vocabulary learning than passive listening to a dramatic reading o f a story, I posed this question: Would the implementation o f specific vocabulary teaching strategies in the context o f interactive read-alouds improve Grade One students’ vocabulary?During the read-alouds, I used various teaching strategies to teach the students 24 vocabulary words selected from 12 specific stories. Data consisted o f pre and post-instructional vocabulary assessments, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test Fourth Edition, student journals, observational notes about the students’ usage o f the target words, and my researcher’s log. After analyzing the data I found that the students’ vocabulary did improve. On average, students knew nine of the 24 words at the onset o f the instructional unit and demonstrated an understanding of 18 of the 24 target words at the end o f the unit. Overall, there was evidence o f oral comprehension of the target words but limited expressive use of the vocabulary. It is also important to note that because this study did not use an experimental design, I cannot prove that improvements were a result of the intervention. The students’ basic understanding o f the target words, however, is a foundation upon which they will continue to build an increased fluency, flexibility, and knowledge of the specific vocabulary taught during the interactive read-alouds.Growing Vocabulary 11ContentsAbstract..................................................................................................................................................... iList of Figures and Appendixes..............................................................................................................  iiiPurpose of Study and Research Question.............................................................................................  1Review of the Literature...........................................................................................................................3Methodology..............................................................................................................................................11Research Design...................................................................................................................................  11Research s ite ......................................................................................................................................  12Participants........................................................................................................................................  12Data Sources and Data Collection.......................................................................................................  13Survey...............................................................................   13Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Fourth Edition (Fall)............................................................... 14Vocabulary Pre-Instructional Assessment.........................   14Implementation......................................................................................................................................  15Checklist, Log..................................................................................................................................... 16Student Journals, Vocabulary Post-Instructional Assessment, PPVT-4 (Spring)......................... 17Data Analysis.......................................................................................................................................... 17Findings........................................................................................................................................................ 19Discussion..................................................................................................................................................23Summary of Key Points............................................................................................................................ 29Limitations................................................................................................................................................. 29Future Research........................................................................................................................................  30Significance............................................................................................................................................... 31References................................................................................................................................................. 34Growing Vocabulary 111FiguresFigure 1: Wonderful Words! Display........................................................................................................ 16Figure 2: Fall and Spring PPVT-4 Student Percentiles........................................................................ 19Figure 3: Pre and Post Vocabulary Instructional Assessment Results...............................................  21Figure 4: Average Number of Target Words Known by Students.................................................... 21Figure 5: Vocabulary Post-Instructional Assessment Compared to Spring PPVT-4 Results  28AppendixesAppendix A: Garfield Survey...................................................................................................................37Appendix B: Vocabulary Assessment Tool (Oral sentence context assessment method).................39Appendix C: Checklist of Children’s Word U sage.............................................................................  41Appendix D: Garfield Survey Results...................................................................................................  42Appendix E: Book Selection for the Read-Alouds.............................................................................  43Appendix F: Vocabulary Teaching Strategies Checklist.......................................................................44Growing Vocabulary IVAcknowledgementsI am grateful to many people for the part they played in supporting me during this learning journey. My heartfelt thanks goes to Dr. Theresa Rogers, my graduate supervisor, who was integral in guiding me throughout the program. I would also like to extend my appreciation to all of the professors from whom I had the pleasure to learn. The passion, intelligence, and dedication they displayed regarding their work were truly inspirational. I am also indebted to my cohort colleagues whose unwavering dedication to our program greatly motivated me. Lastly, I owe my deepest gratitude to my family and friends. The completion o f this paper would not have been possible without their unyielding support and encouragement.Growing Vocabulary 1Fostering Vocabulary Growth During Interactive Read-Alouds In The Grade One ClassroomI have been teaching for over twenty years, the majority o f which has been at the upper intermediate level. For the last seven years, however, I have been teaching Grade One. This rather radical shift in teaching assignments has been both challenging and rewarding. Because the students are beginning to read, Grade One is an exciting year. The children are immersed in print and this grade, in particular, lends itself to sharing many fabulous books with the children. Much of my teaching enjoyment comes from reading stories and other texts aloud. I also derive much satisfaction from engaging in whole group and small group discussions about the books we’ve read together.During our discussions about the books we read, I have noticed a significant difference in the oral abilities of my students in terms of their vocabulary. I understand that vocabulary is not so easily or readily acquired by all young children and that language abilities differ greatly between children in the same grade. However, I am continually reminded of the wide range o f abilities of my students when my class discusses a book together, when I share a story with a small group during our guided reading time, or when I converse individually with a student about a book that he or she is reading during independent reading time practice. Some students easily articulate their thoughts while others struggle to find the words that will enable them to express what they are thinking. Some children will know and use words that others have not been exposed to or heard.I am concerned about the gap in the language abilities o f my students and I’ve pondered the ways in which I can help my students improve their communication skills by increasing their vocabularies. Because reading aloud is such a positive, engaging, learning time for my students, I began focusing on my whole class read-aloud time. How could I use this time more effectively and purposefully? Thinking of ways in which to enhance my students’ oral language abilities and toGrowing Vocabulary Iexpand their vocabularies during our daily read-alouds led me to formulate my research question: Will the implementation o f  specific vocabulary teaching strategies in the context o f  read-alouds improve my Grade One students ’ vocabulary growth?Growing Vocabulary 3Review of the LiteratureIn the primary years, most children’s oral vocabularies are much greater than their reading vocabularies. Hence, when children are learning to read, the books with which they are engaged do not contain an abundance of new and novel words. Most Grade One children first learn how to decode simple, phonetic words. They are not exposed to rich vocabulary through the simple, short books they read and practice independently. For this reason, youngsters “will learn vocabulary from being read to, and from having their attention directly focused on words” (Graves, p.60, as cited in Farstrup & Samuels, 2008). “Reading aloud to students has been examined as an important curricular practice that positively affects concept and vocabulary learning” (Blachowicz & Fisher, p.34, as cited in Farstrup & Samuels, 2008 ). Beck, McKeown, and Kucan (2002) strongly believe that reading aloud to children can increase their vocabulary. Reading aloud not only provides a powerful context for vocabulary acquisition but also, “reading aloud to children increases their ability to recognize words” (Lane & Wright, 2007, p. 669). Research by Santoro, Chard, Howard, and Baker (2008) suggests that read-alouds can promote vocabulary even as students are learning to read. Clearly, engaging young children in daily read-alouds is one method to boost their vocabulary development. But is it sufficient to just read a book aloud or is there more to the act of engaging students in a read-aloud experience?The Case for Explicit Vocabulary InstructionIt is true that children can acquire vocabulary incidentally from a variety of sources such as the people in their family and community, the media, technology, and first hand and vicarious experiences. However, achievement gaps exist between learners in the same grade (Biemiller,2003). Hart and Risley (2003) found a huge discrepancy between pre-school children with regard to their vocabulary growth. According to Biemiller and Slonim (as reported in Biemiller, 2003) most individual differences in vocabulary knowledge develop before grade three. “By the end ofGrowing Vocabulary 4grade two, children in the highest and lowest vocabulary quartiles differ by an average o f 4,000 root words” (Biemiller, 2003, p.328). Cunningham and Stanovich (1997) have linked vocabulary size of first graders to their reading comprehension ability levels in eleventh grade.Unfortunately, these differences in vocabulary knowledge are difficult to ameliorate (Biemiller, 2003; Hart & Risley, 2003). Clearly, early intervention into a child’s developing language is paramount. Even though incidental word learning can occur by having children just listen to a story, research has proven that conducting daily read-alouds that emphasize explicit instruction of specific words can help children acquire more vocabulary than merely having them be passive listeners during read-alouds. Many studies (Baker, Kame’enui, & Simmons, 1995; Beck, Mckeown, & Kucan, 2002; Biemiller, 2004) support the positive effects o f direct, explicit vocabulary instruction on both immediate vocabulary acquisition and longer-term reading comprehension. Students learn more words through targeted instruction and come to have a deeper and broader understanding of word meanings. Furthermore, “reading aloud and facilitating text- based discussions about words provides contexts and opportunities for children to learn new words before they have the reading skills necessary to acquire vocabulary independently” (Biemiller,2001, as cited in Santoro et al., 2008, p.398).Along with general discussions about vocabulary within the context of a read-aloud, specific vocabulary must be taught directly. Stahl (1999) stresses that efficient and effective vocabulary instruction demands informed, intentional planning. This includes paying careful attention to the activity of the learners during the read-aloud. Active participation during read-alouds is more conducive to vocabulary learning than passive listening to even the most dramatic reading o f a story. In order to attempt to narrow the vocabulary gap that is prevalent among primary students, it behooves teachers to capitalize upon the daily story-time experience and select specific words toGrowing Vocabulary 5highlight during the interactive read-aloud. However, the following questions arise: What books should be read aloud? What words should be taught?Books to readMany factors should be considered when selecting a book for an engaging read-aloud: the book’s topic, length, availability, vocabulary, genre, relevance to curricula, and potential for connections between other books to which the children have already been exposed. Of particular importance, however, is the audience’s interest. Because class read-alouds expose all students to the same book at the same time, careful consideration must be paid to the interests o f the majority of the students. Having students complete a quick survey of the kinds of books they enjoy listening to will elicit interesting and surprising insights. Assumptions can mistakenly be made about a group’s overall interests and then books may be selected based upon these faulty presumptions. I have found that most young children enjoy listening to humourous, silly stories. They also like listening to stories about children their own age solving problems. Books about animals and stories depicting fantastical adventures are popular. Read-alouds should not be limited to fictitious texts. Many non­fiction books and informational texts greatly appeal to all children. They love learning about real events, actual people and places, and the animal kingdom. Lane and Wright (2007) suggest that read-alouds, when possible, should be integrated throughout the curriculum and teachers should consider how the book fits into particular units being studied.When selecting books for a study on making the most o f classroom read-alouds, Santoro et al. (2008) avoided overly simplistic books and chose books that were rich in context for vocabulary and comprehension. “Children can understand much more sophisticated content presented in oral language than they can read independently. . .  we need to take advantage o f their listening and speaking competencies to enhance their vocabulary development” (Beck et al., 2002). Furthermore, Santoro et al. (2008) sought to select books that included diverse settings and characters but did notGrowing Vocabulary bcontain multiple plots and confusing story structures. Engaging, creative illustrations also help bring a story to life. Wonderful visuals aid in ‘helping words stick’.Words to TeachOnce a book is selected for a potential read-aloud, the vocabulary o f the text should be carefully considered. Selecting words to teach students can be a daunting task. Which words should be selected? Will the words be too difficult, too easy? How useful are the words? How do the words relate to other words or ideas? Are the words captivating and interesting? Will the students be able to incorporate the words into their everyday lives? Would the words be important to know because they appear frequently in other texts that the students have read or have heard? To begin looking at words, Beck et al. (2002) suggest considering that words have different levels of utility. Given this notion, they suggest dividing vocabulary into three tiers. Tier One consists of basic, high-frequency words such as talk, happy, baby, mum. These words do not require much instruction for most students. Tier Two consists o f words that are high frequency words for more mature language users. Words such as reluctant, absurd, greedy, and fortunate fit into this category. Beck et al. contend that rich knowledge of words from this tier greatly impacts verbal functioning. Tier Three words are words which are used infrequently. These words are usually specific to particular units o f study such as photosynthesis, peninsula, canopy, and metamorphosis. Tier Three word meanings are best learned in context, for example, when studying Science or Social Studies. There are many excellent non-fiction trade books that contain words o f this kind. Of course, informational books can be read aloud with important Tier Three content words being highlighted.The majority o f words that should be addressed during interactive read-alouds are words from the second tier. These words, often verbs and adjectives, are likely to appear in a wide variety of texts. The categorization o f words into specific tiers is not an exact science. But generally,Growing Vocabulary /according to Beck et al. identifying tier two words should follow these criteria: select words that appear frequently across varying domains; words that can be worked within a variety of ways and children can connect the words to other words and ideas; and words for which the general concept is understood, but provide a specific description o f the concept.Biemiller (2010) has taken the Tier system of words a bit further. He feels that it is important to distinguish each tier as it applies to the primary grades and to the upper-elementary grades. “Primary Tier Two words, words worth teaching, are the meanings that advanced students know by the end of grade two and disadvantaged or at-risk second grade students often lack” (Biemiller, 2010, p. 12). Furthermore, Biemiller suggests that Primary Tier Two words are the words that provide the necessary foundation for acquiring more advanced word meanings. Graves (2008, as cited in Farstrup & Samuels, 2008) agrees with Biemiller and Beck et al. that because there is not enough time to teach all the words children need to know, there is a need for rich, deep, instruction on some words and less extended instruction on others.Biemiller’s Direct and Systematic Instruction program (2004,2006) suggests selecting 30 books during the year, engaging in repeated readings of the book, and selecting about 24 words from each book. Students won’t remember all the words taught, but if  24 words were taught each week over the course o f the year, students might learn 400 words. However, reading the same book for the entire week would not be very exciting. Also, the many and varied trade books I have read to my primary students do not contain 24 tier two words per book. At times, I am hard-pressed to find half that many tier two words in a read-aloud. In Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction, Beck et al. suggest selecting four to six words for each book. Even though they advocate for repeated readings of a text so the words can become more familiar to the students, they are proponents o f engaging in far more readings o f different texts and not limiting the read-alouds to just one story a week. It makes much more sense to reread a book once, not multiple timesGrowing Vocabulary 8throughout the week. Even though students are willing to listening to a rereading of a book, they are generally more eager and excited to engage with new stories that could be related to the stories they’ve already experienced. Once the book and the words are selected for instruction, the read- aloud can begin.Engaging in the Read-AloudAll children love to listen to a story and they will be excited to actively engage in the reading of it. Before reading, it may be important to explain the meaning of only one or two words that are crucial to the understanding o f the story. “Introducing more than three words at this time is counterproductive as students find it too hard to hold that many meanings in memory as the story is read” (Biemiller, 2010, p. 18). After explaining a couple o f crucial words, if  need be, read the book. In the case where a word might be needed for story comprehension, the teacher can briefly stop and explain the word during reading. During certain parts o f the story, most children will be eager to make a comment regarding a certain part o f the book. This is natural and I find that it is important to mediate the number and length of the comments. Also, there may be sections o f the read-aloud that lend themselves to whole group responses. This can be very engaging and interactive for the children. Posing a question about a part o f the book that the students can quickly respond to a classmate about is an effective way to ensure that everyone gets a chance to express their thoughts aloud. Too much discussion during the initial reading o f the book, however, is disruptive and hinders the flow and enjoyment of the story. During the reading o f the book, it is important not to interrupt the reading with vocabulary instruction. “Experience has shown that children may object to interrupting the first reading of the book with vocabulary instruction” (Graves, p.65, as cited in Farstrup & Samuels, 2008). Once the book is finished and children have been given opportunities to comment on it, introduce the selected vocabulary. Beck et al. (2002) suggest that vocabulary instruction should always begin with the context from the story because it provides a situationGrowing Vocabulary yalready familiar to the children and it provides a rich example of the word’s use. It is important to move beyond this context because multiple contexts are necessary for students to develop a meaningful and memorable representation of a word. Young children, in particular, tend to limit a word’s meaning to the context in which the word was originally presented. It is important to keep the definitions of the target words child-friendly, simple, direct, and focused on the meanings as they were used in the story. Show any pictures related to the target word. Then, have children engage in activities to help them solidify their understanding o f the word. The following examples encourage children to interact with words:For the word cautiously, ask questions: If you are walking around a dark room, you need to do it cautiously. Why? What are some things that need to be done cautiously?For the word impress, ask the students to give reasons: What is something you could do to impress your teacher? Why?For the word extraordinary, ask the students for examples: Which o f these things might be extraordinary? Why or why not?- a shirt that was comfortable, or a shirt that washed itself?- a person who has a library card, or a person who has read all the books in the library? Students can also make choices when learning about a target word:I’ll say some things, if  they sound leisurely, say “Leisurely”. If you need to be in a hurry, say “Hurry”.- taking a walk in the park- firefighters getting to a fire- runners in a race- sitting a talking with your friends- a dog lying in the sun (Beck et al., 2002, p. 56-57).Growing Vocabulary 1UMost children also enjoy dramatizing a word. For example, they could act out the word ferocious, they could move their hands swiftly, or they could demonstrate what it means to pounce. Singing, creating artwork, role-playing, and engaging in short dramatizations are valuable activities that assist the students in understanding and making connections with the vocabulary being learned. After the target words have been presented and discussed, the words may be posted for all to see on a special ‘wonderful words’ wall. Posting a picture beside each target word will help trigger the children’s memories as to what words they have been exposed to and are learning. Encouraging and modeling the oral and written use o f the words throughout the day, weeks, and year is recommended.Before reading another book aloud, teachers may want to consider the following sequence for reflecting upon and reviewing the previous day’s target words. Review each word in a new sentence not taken from the story that was read. Then, review again the explanation of each word meaning. I have done this during my read-alouds and it does not take very much time. But it is an important part o f the children experiencing repeated exposures to the target words. It is these repeated exposures to words that will hopefully enable children to eventually have a “rich, decontextualized knowledge o f a word’s meaning, its relationship to other words, and its extension to metaphorical uses, such as understanding what someone is doing when they are devouring a book” (Beck et al., 2002, p. 10).SummaryKnowledge o f new words enables a learner to build upon prior knowledge. Connections are more easily made if a reader isn’t struggling to comprehend a myriad of unknown vocabulary. Vocabulary acquisition cannot be left to incidental factors such as oral language, chance, television, technology, and music. We have to understand that oral language can be taught, just like the skills acquired in reading, writing, and math. Many researchers have devoted untold hours in the hopes ofGrowing Vocabulary 11enlightening educators how to handle the issue o f narrowing the language gap. Engaging children in interactive read-alouds which focus upon carefully selected books and specific target vocabulary is one way to increase the vocabulary bank of primary children. Given that there are excellent resources that teachers can access in order to effectively teach and foster vocabulary acquisition, the commitment to implement robust vocabulary programs in our classrooms should be a priority. With this in mind, I was eager and keen to engage in my teacher research in the hopes o f answering my research question: Will the implementation o f  specific vocabulary teaching strategies in the context o f interactive read-alouds improve my Grade One students ’ vocabulary growth?Methodology Research DesignIn thinking about the ways in which to investigate my research question I decided that teacher research would best enable me to engage in systematic inquiry. Teacher research draws on perspectives from action research, which includes “a cycle of posing questions, gathering data, reflection, and deciding on a course o f action” (Ferrance, 2000, p. 2). Teacher research must enable us to maintain the flow of our classroom and continue to focus on the needs o f our students. It is also important to note that “action research takes place in real-world situations, and aims to solve real problems” (O’Brien, 1998, p. 3). The real-world situation in this case is the vocabulary abilities of my Grade One classroom. I employ both qualitative and quantitative methods in order to investigate potential answers to my research question and critically reflect upon each cycle o f my inquiry. Because action research is a holistic approach to problem solving, it allows for various research tools to be used as the study is conducted. In the methodology section I describe the different data collection methods used throughout my research. One of the goals o f action research is to enable teachers to demonstrate to educators, parents, students, and to themselves that a particular teaching practice has merit. “Action research is a way for you to continue to grow andGrowing Vocabulary 12learn by making use o f your own experiences” (Rust and Clark, 2007). As a constructivist view of learning asserts, every experience is a learning experience and as I engage actively in teacher research, I hope to learn more about my teaching practices and shed some light on my proposed research question.Research Site. The study took place at a school located in a town near a major city in southwestern British Columbia. This suburban community is home to 21 000 residents. Because I work at this school, and I wanted to conduct research in my own classroom, this school was the obvious site for implementing my study. The school’s neighbourhood is predominantly comprised of single-family homes and the children who attend the school are primarily middle-class. The school has an active and supportive parent group dedicated to fund raising and creating school spirit. The school currently enrolls 341 students, the majority o f whom live within walking distance to the school. There are 14 divisions ranging from Kindergarten to Grade Seven. The staff is comprised of 20 teachers, five teaching assistants, two learning assistant/mainstream support teachers, and various support teachers involved with counseling, psychology, speech/language, and ESL. The average student-to-teacher ratio in the primary grades is 22 to 1, while the average student to teacher ratio in the intermediate grades is 29 to 1. Many students at this school benefit from the aid of a teaching assistant, assigned to classes based upon the varying needs of the pupils enrolled in particular classrooms. Students interested in Late French Immersion in grades six and seven have the option o f enrolling in these French programs at the end of grade five.Participants. Of my 23 grade one students, 19 children consented to participate in the study. Eight students were boys and eleven students were girls. One of the students received weekly support from the ESL teacher, as this student’s first language was not English. At the beginning of this study, the mean age of the children was 6 years; 3 months, with a range from 5 years; 10 months, to 6 years; 9 months. At the completion of the study, the students ranged in ageGrowing Vocabulary 13from 6 years; 5 months, to 7 years; 4 months. Because my instructional unit was designed to involve the whole class, every student participated in the lessons associated with my research study. Student assent and parent consent letters went home with the children at the beginning of January 2010 and the students brought these forms back to the school’s secretary over the course o f the month. The return rate was 82%. In addition, full project approval was granted through the University o f British Columbia’s Behavioural Research Ethics Board and through the school district before commencing the instructional unit.Data Sources and CollectionI used a variety o f data sources and collection processes in my study. I began with a survey, administered the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test Fourth Edition, and conducted pre- and post vocabulary assessments o f the target vocabulary in order to determine the students’ understanding of the specific words. I also maintained a checklist, kept a researcher’s log, and read student journals.Survey. My study began mid-October, 2009. Because I wanted to select target vocabulary from books read during our afternoon read-aloud time. I met with each student and helped him or her complete a survey (Appendix A) regarding the types o f stories he or she likes to listen to. This information would allow me to choose appropriate genres and topics from which the target vocabulary for instruction would be selected. During our individual conferences, I asked each child to respond to 11 questions by circling one o f four Garfields for each question. This four-point scale, adapted from Measuring attitude toward reading: A new tool for teachers, by McKenna and Kear (1990), shows all Garfields looking exactly alike except for their facial expressions. All survey questions begin in the same manner. For example,When I  listen to a story about animals I  f e e l . . .When I  listen to a story about kids who are about the same age as me I  f e e l . . .Growing Vocabulary 14When I listen to a story about sports I  fe e l. . .I chose to use a four-point scale because I wanted each child to make a choice about the kinds of stories he or she likes to listen to. Since a middle option of "Neither agree nor disagree" is unavailable, it would be more evident which kinds of books to select for the story time.Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Fourth Edition. Also in mid-October 2009,1 administered the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Fourth Edition, (PPVT-4) to each child. I wanted to determine each child’s understanding and use of general vocabulary knowledge and collecting this document data in the form of a standardized test would enable me to do so.Vocabulary pre-instructional assessment. The next step was to select 24 target words from the 12 stories I selected based upon the results of the Garfield survey. I felt that teaching two vocabulary words per story was enough due to the time constraints of our afternoon read-aloud time and the age of the students. Attempting to teach more words at that time would take time away from other subject areas and may have overloaded the students with too much information.Because these read-aloud sessions took place immediately after lunch, it was important to create an atmosphere of relaxed engagement. I wanted this read-aloud experience to serve as a highly enjoyable and meaningful transition time, as well as providing an opportunity for the children to be enthused about learning and acquiring new vocabulary from the stories.In order to select 24 words that would be appropriate for Grace One students, I consulted the books Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction by Beck, McKeown, & Kucan,2002; and Words Worth Teaching: Closing the Vocabulary Gap, by Biemiller, 2010. Once I selected the 24 target words for teaching, I used the oral sentence context assessment method as outlined by Biemiller (2010) and designed a vocabulary assessment tool (Appendix B) to determine the extent to which my students understood the selected target words. By assessing each student, I would get a baseline o f the students’ knowledge o f the vocabulary.Growing VocabularyI met with the each student individually and administered half the vocabulary pre- instructional assessment. Expecting each child to define 24 words during one conference would have been overwhelming - for both teacher and student. I completed the pre-instructional vocabulary assessment during individual conferences the following day. Once the pre-assessments were completed, I could ascertain if  there was any vocabulary I should omit -  in other words, if  any of the vocabulary was understood by more than 80% of the students.ImplementationThe six-week instructional unit commenced January 2010. I scheduled my lessons to take place every Thursday and Friday, the two days I taught each week. The lessons began at 1:00, our usual read-aloud time, and typically lasted 25 to 35 minutes. The pupils and I engaged in an interactive reading (Brabham & Lynch-Brown, 2002; Barrentine 1996; Fisher, Flood, Lapp & Frey,2004) of the selected story. Then, I introduced a target word. Depending upon the nature of the word, the students engaged in a discussion about the word, participated in a kinesthetic activity involving the word, illustrated and/or wrote about the word, or used the word in a short dramatic activity. These strategies were conducted for the purpose o f reinforcing the meaning of the target word. The class was then introduced to the second target word from the story and engaged in an activity to reinforce meaning. After the lesson the words and a picture o f the cover o f the book from which the words were selected were posted on our Wonderful Words! bulletin board. The teaching of the words continued for six weeks -  with four words being targeted each week through the reading of two stories. By the end of the unit, our word wall was covered with 24 vocabulary words and 12 book covers.Growing Vocabulary 16Figure 1. Wonderful Words! DisplayChecklist. Throughout the course o f the six-week instructional unit, I maintained and compiled a checklist o f the children’s word usage (Appendix C). I modified the checklist slightly from a checklist Peg Schippert (2005) designed and utilized with her Grade One students in the article Read Alouds and Vocabulary: A New Way o f  Teaching. I was interested in whether the children would assimilate the words into their conversations and whether they would utilize the words in their writing. I was also curious if  the children noticed the words embedded in other texts they read, and if they recognized the words being read aloud by me as we encountered them in subsequent read-alouds. As well, I recorded if  the children noticed when I used the target words in conversation. Finally, I sought to record students’ recognition o f the target words being used in the media. In Schippert’s (2005) article, she reports, “The results o f my data collection indicated that most students were learning these new words, and the words were becoming part of their vocabulary” (p. 14). I, too, hoped to see evidence of my students’ acquisition o f the target vocabulary during my teaching days. I reviewed the checklist at the end o f each week and analyzed it at the completion of the instructional unit.Log. Each evening, after the lesson, I recorded my thoughts and feelings about how the unit was progressing in my researcher’s log. I also recorded details o f the teaching strategies I employedGrowing Vocabulary 17and the comments and responses elicited from the children during the day. I reviewed my researcher’s log at the end of each week.Student journals. I collected the students’ journals to gather evidence of the occurrence of unprompted usage of the target vocabulary words in their weekly writing.Vocabulary post-instructional assessment. By mid-February, the six-week instructional unit was complete and it was time to meet individually with each child to administer the vocabulary post-instructional assessment.Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Fourth Edition. To complete my data collection efforts, I administered the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Fourth Edition (PPVT-4), in mid-May 2010, seven months after initially administering it to each student.Data AnalysisAfter administering the Garfield survey, I calculated how many students out of 19 selected the extremely happy and excited Garfield when answering each question on the survey (the most favourable response). Tabulating the scores using the Excel program in Microsoft Office enabled me to ascertain which genres received the ‘highest scores’, in other words, which genres the children enjoyed listening to the most (Appendix D). I was then able to determine which books I would select for the read-alouds. Appendix E outlines the book titles, authors, and genres, and the order in which they were read throughout the instructional unit.In order to analyze the PPVT4,1 followed the specific scoring guide as outlined by this standardized test. Each student’s score was converted into an age and grade equivalent, and a percentile. This data gave me a sense o f each student’s general, vocabulary knowledge in regards to oral comprehension. I compared the results of the Fall and Spring administration of the test by focusing on the percentile scores and the age equivalent scores for each student.Growing Vocabulary 18To score the vocabulary pre-instructional vocabulary assessment, I referred to Biemiller’s book, Words Worth Teaching: Closing the Vocabulary Gap (2010). Outlined in this book are the methods of testing and rating word meanings after administering the test. After reading each sentence to a student, and asking for a definition or explanation of the target word, I wrote the child’s response. Later, I was able to assign a score for each sentence. A score o f 1 was given when the student understood the target word. A score o f 0.5 was given if  I wasn’t sure whether or not the child knew the word. A score of .01 was given for wrong answers, and a score o f 0 was given for no response or “don’t know”. The post-instructional vocabulary assessment was scored in the same manner. Below is a sample o f scoring a child’s word meaning from Words Worth Teaching (Biemiller, 2010).Cups, saucers, and spoons went flying.Full score (1.0) “plate you put a cup on,” “plate under a teacup”Half score (0.5) “plate”Wrong response score (0.01) “cups and saucers” (repeats what was supplied)No answer score (0.0) “don’t know,” “pass”For both the pretest and the post-test, I was curious how each child performed. I was also curious what the average scores were for the whole class. Again, I used Excel to create a spreadsheet of the results from the two tests.I analyzed observational data, (student checklist, students’ journals, researcher’s log) to see how often the students engaged in using the target words expressively and/or demonstrated an understanding o f the selected vocabulary.FindingsThe results of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Fourth Edition are shown in the bar graph below. The graph indicates the students’ scores as a percentile in October, 2009 and in May,Growing Vocabulary 192010. According to the PPVT-4 scoring manual, if  a student’s percentile increases, then the student has improved faster than average and is now performing better relative to his or her age peers. If the percentile remains the same, the student’s vocabulary has grown at an average rate, and if the percentile declines, the student’s vocabulary has not improved at the rate that is typical for that particular age.Fall & Spring PPVT-4 Percentiles100 90  80  70q> 605 50u41a~ 40  30  20 10 01 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19Students! Fa ll P e rc e n t ile  s Sp r in g  P e rc e n t ileFigure 2. Fall and Spring PPVT-4 Student PercentilesPercentiles increased for 11 of the 19 students, indicating that their “receptive vocabulary” growth improved faster than average. One student’s percentile remained unchanged, indicating that her vocabulary grew at an average rate. Seven students’ percentiles declined. However, of those seven, two scores were very close to being unchanged (students 10 and 19) and were above the 85th percentile. Also, when looking at their age and grade equivalent scores, these particular students scored above their age and grade. So, upon analyzing this data, I would be inclined to focus on students 8, 9, 11, 14, and 15 to ascertain why their growth in oral comprehension of vocabulary did not improve at a typical rate. Because I administered the PPVT-4 in October and then just sevenGrowing Vocabulary 2Umonths later, the short time span between administrations may be too soon to allow some children to expand their vocabulary. Looking for trends over a year or more may produce a more significant and helpful picture o f a student’s abilities.The results of the pre-instructional vocabulary assessment indicated that on average, the students knew nine words out o f a possible 24 target words, or 37% o f the words. When I assessed the students at the end of the six-week instructional unit using the same assessment measure, the students, on average, knew 18 out o f the 24 words, or 75% of the target vocabulary. Each student improved in his or her understanding of the words. Some students made quite significant gains by initially only understanding five of the words and then demonstrating knowledge of 18 words. This increase o f 13 words was impressive. The following graphs illustrate the findings.Growing Vocabulary 21Pre & Post Vocabulary Instructional Assessment ResultsN1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 190r S t u d e n t sd■ Pre-lnstructional Assessment ■ Post-Instructional AssessmentFigure 3. Pre and Post Vocabulary Instructional Assessment ResultsAverage Number Of Words Known24232221201918171615141312111098765432109.118.9Pro-Instructional Assessment Average Post-Instructional Assessment AverageFigure 4. Average Number of Target Words Known by StudentsGrowing Vocabulary 22When I reviewed my checklist at the end of the instructional unit, it was apparent that students’ expressive usage of the target vocabulary was very infrequent. Also, there was no evidence indicating that any of the students ‘found’ any of the vocabulary words in other texts that they read. Not one student reported recognizing any of the vocabulary words being used in the media. There was limited evidence o f students recognizing the words when they heard them in various texts being read aloud. Many students, however, demonstrated that they were aware o f my expressive use of the target vocabulary. I would deliberately integrate the target vocabulary words into daily discussions, directions, and conversations. The students enjoyed indicating that they recognized the words by telling me so, or pointing to our Wonderful Words wall, which displayed the vocabulary words and pictures of the books from which the vocabulary words were chosen. Many students, upon hearing my usage o f the word, which I did not deliberately emphasize, would say, “She used the purple word ’ (the words on our Wonderful Words wall were printed on different coloured sentence strips, so as to better delineate the words from one another). Some students would comment, “She used the wordfrom the penguin story’'. The children were more apt to recognize my usage of the words as opposed to hearing the words embedded in the stories we read.There was no evidence o f any student independently using the target words in his or her journal writing. When specifically asked at the end of the instructional unit, however, to use any of the vocabulary words in sentences, 13 out o f 19 students could easily accomplish the task. Below are some sample sentences that the children came up with on their own when asked to write (boldface words indicate target vocabulary):1. Wen I  wus at hokey i wus exostd beks i had 4 brakuwas.(When I was at hockey I was exhausted because I had four breakaways.)2. I  wus imvressd bcus wen we woch tv we woch Canidu ugenz U.S.A we wund the gamGrowing Vocabulary 23(I was impressed because when we watched tv we watched Canada against the U.S.A. We won the game.)3. I  wus Shocked that a Sled Zoomd Past Me (I was shocked that a sled zoomed past me.)4. I  was wociinn my dog and sudlee a car kame and i sed halt to my dog.(I was walking my dog and suddenly a car came and I said halt to my dog.)5. It Wus dreadful that My Dog DiDe (It was dreadful that my dog died.)Discussion The Literature Used in the Instructional UnitAt the start of my teacher research, I decided to survey my students about which books they enjoy listening to during a read aloud. It was important for me to carefully consider the results of the Garfield survey and select the books I would read to the children based upon the findings. The fact that almost 80% of the children want to listen to funny stories is not surprising. It simply reaffirms children (and adults, too, I hope) enjoy laughing. Children, undoubtedly, delight in experiencing some levity and silliness during the day. The other point that came to light was that almost 70% of the children wanted to hear stories about animals. We cannot overlook the importance o f sharing read-alouds about the creatures with whom we share this earth. Most children show a great affinity towards animals of all kinds and I enjoy using texts about animals to teach all manner of concepts. In addition, 63% of the students were keen to listen to non-fiction stories being read aloud. Integrating the curriculum with informational texts is essential. Children are extremely curious and love not only learning new things about the world around them, but also revel in sharing their own background knowledge about the world. Having gathered this information about the books my students favoured gave me necessary insights into the genres andGrowing Vocabulary 24topics from which to select the target vocabulary. It made sense that if  the children were listening to books that interested them, they would be more apt to focus their attention on the story and then on the target vocabulary. The children appeared to thoroughly enjoy the books. Their actions, responses, concentration, and focus indicated that they were very much engaged in the read-aloud experiences.General Vocabulary AbilityAfter administering the PPVT4 for the first time in the fall, I noted that 15 out o f 19 students recieved age equivalent scores that were the same or higher than their actual age. In four o f those cases, the children scored two years above their actual age, and in two cases, the children scored three years above their actual age. I was most concerned, however, with the four children whose age equivalent scores on the test were below their actual ages. Having this information at the beginning of the school year regarding the students’ general oral comprehensive (referred to by the PPVT-4 as “receptive vocabulary” enabled me to address their particular needs more closely. When I tested all the students seven months later, of the four students with whom I was initially concerned, three of them had made gains by scoring either just below, the same as, or higher than their actual age. The remaining student in that group of four again scored well below their actual age. I expected the 15 students whose age equivalent scores that in the Fall were the same as or greater than their actual age to progress and make gains accordingly. Thirteen o f those 15 students did. Two students’ age equivalent scores were slightly below their actual age. In fact, their age equivalent scores remained unchanged from the Fall assessment to the Spring assessment even though they had aged seven months and been exposed to a rich and varied Grade One program. Targeted Vocabulary GrowthGiven that the average number o f words known by the students before the commencement of the instructional unit was nine, or 37%, I felt confident that the words I had chosen wereGrowing Vocabularyappropriately challenging. The target vocabulary consisted o f Tier Two words, according to the definition suggested by Beck et al. (2002). The majority o f the words were also words that Biemiller (2010) suggests primary children should know before entering the intermediate grades. After engaging interactively in the reading aloud of the selected books, and then focusing on the target vocabulary for six weeks, the children, on average, knew 18 o f the 24 words, or 75%. In what way did the students really ‘know’ these words? This was the intriguing question to me. At the start of my study, I hypothesized that the children would not only acquire an understanding of the words and expressively define the word during my assessments, but also they would demonstrate expressive use of the vocabulary throughout the study.Expressive Use of Targeted VocabularyUpon reviewing my various checklists and researcher’s log, it was apparent that the children demonstrated an understanding of the targeted vocabulary. More specifically, they could recognize when the target words were being spoken by me or being read aloud to them from various books (not just from my selected read-alouds). Furthermore, they could define the words by explaining what the words meant or by acting out the meaning of the word. The evidence o f expressive use of the words, however, was extremely limited. In the six-week study, I recorded only eight instances of various students using the target vocabulary expressively. For example, upon coming back from a bake sale in the gym, one student remarked, “There was a big commotion at the bake sale?' (commotion being one o f the target words). Another example is a student’s use of the target word contribute: “/  am going to contribute some coins tomorrow" (in referring to a fundraiser that was taking place at the school). This sentence exemplifies a student’s expressive use o f the target word reluctant: “I  was reluctant to come to school today because o f my wii?' I liken the fact that the children demonstrated limited unprompted expressive use the target words to learning a new language. Our understanding is almost always initially greater than our expressive usage o f newGrowing Vocabulary 26words and phrases. Why should learning a new word in the same language be any different, especially for young children? Furthermore, the children’s limited expressive use o f the vocabulary could be attributed to the fact that I taught the class two days a week. Had I been teaching my students full time, I may have evidenced more expressive use o f the targeted words. The children would have been exposed to the words more frequently through my conversations with them and by me drawing their attention to the printed words more often during subsequent read-alouds.I thought that I would witness independent usage o f the target words in their journal writing. Only when prompted and encouraged did the students demonstrate that they could use the target words when writing sentences. In reflecting again about the students’ lack of spontaneous expressive usage o f the words, I was reminded of a quote from an article written by Neuman and Dwyer (2009, p. 384) entitled Missing in Action: Vocabulary Instruction in Pre-K: “To know a word’s meaning is to know what a word represents and to begin to understand the network of concepts that goes with it”. Until my students repeatedly see the target words in texts, hear the words being used, and practice using the words themselves both in their writing and in their oral language, they will not have full and flexible knowledge of the words. Vocabulary knowledge appears to grow gradually and this notion is supported by the fact that my students demonstrated a very good understanding o f the target words by the end o f my instructional unit.Further review and examination of my checklist and researcher’s log regarding the usage of the target words enabled me to ponder the kinds o f teaching strategies that I employed in order for the students to learn the specific vocabulary. In teaching each word, for example, the students and I engaged in role playing/dramatizing; action/movement; writing; drawing; and discussions. Reflecting upon this chart (Appendix F) and comparing it to the data pertaining to the students’ scores on the post-instructional vocabulary assessment enabled me to see patterns and make connections between vocabulary teaching strategies and word understanding. The key vocabularyGrowing Vocabulary 27words were always discussed after reading the text. It was important to relate the target word to the students’ experiences and background knowledge and engage in a sharing o f what the word meant to students. Decontextualizing the target words was important, too, as was analyzing the words, and paying attention to the words’ sounds and their letters. Through use of these contextual, analytical, and anchored instructional strategies (Juel & Deffes, 2004), I felt that the children would be able to better retain the target words’ meanings. Many times, however, the target words would lend themselves to being dramatized, used in a role-play, or being associated with a particular action or movement. Other times, the words would lend themselves to being written or illustrated. It appeared that when learning the words involved a kinesthetic component, the children were able to make those words ‘stick’ particularly well. When individually asked to define the words during the post-instructional assessment, it was fascinating to see how many children accompanied their oral explanation of the word meaning with the action or movement that we discussed as a whole group. Remembering to acknowledge and provide for many learning styles is paramount. I am sure that if  the class only participated in an oral discussion o f the target vocabulary’s meaning, and there were no other varied opportunities for the students to find ways in which to connect to the meanings of the words, the children would not have remembered as many word meanings at the end o f the instructional unit.During my post-instructional assessment of each student, it was evident to me how proud the children were of their word knowledge. Many children made comments such as, “I  am really good at this, aren’t /?” or “/  know a lot o f  these words.” One student was able to use the target word impressed during the post-instructional assessment by asking me, “Aren’t you impressed, Mrs. Harkley!?” Obviously, this student was very pleased with her word knowledge, as was I! These comments made me feel that teaching the words to the students was worthwhile and was a step in the direction of increasing their vocabulary and promoting their word consciousness -  theirGrowing Vocabulary 28awareness and interest in words. The ability to have fun with words and enjoy learning new words is integral to fostering word consciousness.Correlation Between General and Targeted Vocabulary KnowledgeAfter scoring the results of the Spring PPVT-4 and my post-instructional vocabulary assessment, I was curious whether there were any similarities between the children’s general, “receptive vocabulary” on the PPVT-4 and their understanding o f the words I taught them. Interestingly, there did appear to be a connection. Generally, if a student scored well on the Spring PPVT-4, they did well on my vocabulary post-instructional assessment tool. Conversely, if  a student’s score was low on the PPVT-4, their vocabulary score reflected this result too. Figure 5 illustrates the results o f the Spring PPVT-4 and the post-instructional vocabulary assessment.Vocabulary Post Instructional Assessment Compared To Spring PPVT4I  I  I  I  I  I  I  I  I  I  I  I  I  I  I  I  I  I■ Vocabulary Post Instructional Assessment Results■  Post Instructional PPVT4 ResultsFigure 5. Vocabulary Post-Instructional Assessment Compared to Spring PPVT-4 ResultsThere were five instances, however, where the students performed significantly better on my vocabulary assessment than on the PPVT-4 (students 9, 11, 13, and to a lesser extent, students 15 and 17). In thinking about these five particular students, I know that they struggle with the skillsGrowing Vocabulary 29associated with oral language, reading, and writing. However, during the reading of the books and the teaching of the specific vocabulary, they were some of the most enthusiastic participants when the learning of the words involved kinesthetic and oral activities. The ‘talks’ about the words, for the most part, did not seem to excite these students as much as the ‘doing.’Summary of Key Points Overall, the students’ general oral comprehension of vocabulary was linked to their understanding of the target vocabulary I taught during the read-alouds. Conducting a quick survey to ascertain which kinds of books a class enjoys listening to during story time is helpful. It is also advisable to select two Tier Two words from a text that will be used for story time and teach the meaning of those chosen words. Carefully planning how the specific vocabulary is going to be taught during an interactive read aloud is important. Also, it is paramount that teachers ensure that the reading of the story and the teaching of the target words do not take more than 35 minutes.After being taught specific vocabulary during an interactive read aloud, the students, on average, will have a good understanding of the target words. And, when prompted, they will be able to demonstrate expressive use the target words. However, the children will likely display very limited spontaneous expressive use of the target words. When the children are learning the meanings o f the selected vocabulary it aids their understanding of the words if  a kinesthetic component is incorporated into the teaching strategies.Limitations of the StudyThere are a number o f limitations to my teacher research. The study’s sample size of 19 students is small and this particular group of students is relatively homogeneous. Thus, it is difficult to extrapolate the findings o f this study to other more heterogeneous groups of Grade One children. It would be difficult for another teacher to exactly replicate my study without having explicit lesson plans that accompany each read-aloud. Including details about how each o f the 24Growing Vocabulary 30target words was taught during the six-week instructional unit is beyond the scope o f this paper.My job-share teaching arrangement was also a limitation in this study. Teaching 40% of the time clearly reduced my instructional time with my students. Furthermore, because I conducted the research in my classroom with my students, the objectivity with which I assessed the children may be questioned. Was I objective enough? Did I unwittingly guide or lead a child’s response towards the desired outcome while I assessed their understanding of the target words? It was also difficult to accurately record all the student responses regarding their recognition of my usage of the target words. This is, perhaps, the plight o f the teacher who is conducting research alone in his or her classroom. Filming the lessons would enable me to collect and analyze more data. Administering the PPVT-4 to my students presented limitations. The issue of error of measurement needs to be taken into account when interpreting the test scores. Also, over-generalizing from a test that only measures a student’s ‘receptive’ vocabulary may pose a problem.Future ResearchUndertaking this teacher research not only enlightened my understanding o f young children’s ability to acquire new vocabulary through read-alouds, but also it encouraged me to think about related research that could be investigated. It would be interesting to assess my students in their Grade Two year to ascertain whether they retained their understanding o f the words they learned. Also, I am intrigued by what other teaching strategies could be employed to encourage and facilitate the acquisition o f new and novel words. What programs could be implemented into the classroom to effectively support word consciousness? Further research related to classroom support for students whose general, oral comprehension and expressive vocabulary is low intrigues me. What teaching strategies would significantly bolster a child’s general vocabulary over the course of  a school year? Interesting research could be done regarding the use of picture books in upper intermediate classrooms. How could these books be effectively utilized to increase the vocabulariesGrowing Vocabulary 31of older students? I wonder how parents could be more involved in their child’s learning o f specific target words. It would be interesting to investigate how specific parental involvement might impact the children’s learning of the specific target words. Lastly, I wonder about the words we teach children and the words the children learn. What makes a word easier for one child to learn but difficult for another to connect to and master? What factors are at play when one child can immediately use a new word expressively yet another child maintains only oral comprehension of the word for many, many months? Undoubtedly, these and other related questions would be intriguing to investigate.SignificanceLanguage and vocabulary development play an integral role in young children’s literacy development. Encouraging and fostering the vocabulary development of my students has been an interest of mine throughout my teaching career, whether I have been teaching upper intermediate students or early primary students. I have always been fascinated by my students’ range of abilities associated with oral language and vocabulary acquisition. Undertaking this teacher research has enabled me to learn much about language and literacy, specifically vocabulary acquisition, that will enable me to enhance, supplement, adapt, and change my current teaching practices.Addressing the significance of my research requires a revisiting o f my research question: Will the implementation o f specific vocabulary teaching strategies in the context o f  read-alouds improve my Grade One students ’ vocabulary growth? Implementing specific vocabulary strategies during our interactive read-aloud time definitely enabled my students to be exposed to new vocabulary. And, overall, my students’ understanding o f the target vocabulary improved. However, it is important to note that they demonstrated extremely limited expressive use o f the target words.A dedicated read-aloud time is essential to any language arts program. Young children, when engaging in independent reading, are sometimes limited to simple text which limits theirGrowing Vocabulary 32opportunity for being exposed to interesting and novel vocabulary. “Read-alouds fill the gap by exposing children to book language which is rich in unusual words and descriptive language” (Kindle, 2009, p. 202). Furthermore, students, who are visual learners, in particular, need opportunities to experience the beautifully and cleverly crafted illustrations in the picture books.The question I kept asking myself is, “How can I  capitalize upon this story time to foster vocabulary growth?” Of course, the teaching o f specific vocabulary would also take place during our morning guided reading time. Plus, children were going to learn some new vocabulary incidentally by the books they read during our ‘book bin’ time -  a time for children to practice reading independently at their level and then with a buddy. Specific vocabulary growth would also occur during science and social studies lessons. My goal was to use the read-aloud time to introduce two new words to the children without detracting from the enjoyment of the story or extending the story time too much. This goal can be accomplished and in this study every child demonstrated improved knowledge o f the target words over the course o f the instruction. It is important to note, however, that the teaching o f the vocabulary words does not begin and end with just the story time. The new vocabulary words need to be woven throughout the course of the day, during the study of particular units and themes, and infused over the course of the year. Teachers can also encourage children to expressively use the novel words while keeping in mind that young children may not be developmentally ready to use the words in such a way.I asked the students in this study to define a word orally and/or dramatically to show their understanding of it. Even though learning a definition o f a word is usually not enough for a student to gain and develop a broad and deep understanding of the word, I still feel it is a starting point for them to begin to increase their vocabulary. The students now have some basic knowledge o f the target words I selected for this study. Hopefully, as the children continue to develop their reading skills and through their continued engagement with interactive read-alouds, they will be able toGrowing Vocabulary 33build upon this initial, cursory word knowledge in order to develop a more thorough understanding of the chosen vocabulary. “Effective vocabulary instruction and classroom read-alouds are proven to positively impact the development o f vocabulary and comprehension skills for all students, and are particularly important for those students who enter school with a vocabulary deficit” (Moses, 2005, p. 14). Most definitely, read-aloud experiences can and should be capitalized upon to meet multi-instructional objectives.Exposing children to new vocabulary through interactive read-alouds is an activity that needs to be planned carefully. “Taking advantage of the read-aloud experience to develop children’s literacy is complex and demanding” (Beck and McKeown, 2001). However, when the story time experience is thoughtfully considered and executed, each student can begin to acquire new vocabulary that will potentially increase the level of his or her own language learning.Growing Vocabulary 34ReferencesBaker, S. K., Simmons, D. C., & Kame'enui, E. J. (1995). Vocabulary acquisition: Synthesis o f the research. National Center to Improve the Tools o f Educators, 1-30.Barrentine, S. (1996). Engaging with reading through interactive read-alouds. The Reading Teacher, 50(1), 36-43.Beck, I., L, McKeown, M., G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction The Guilford Press.Beck, I., & McKeown, M., G. (2001). Text talk: Capturing the benefits o f read-aloud experiences for young children. The Reading Teacher, 55(1), 10-20.Biemiller, A. (2004). Vocabulary instruction: Research to practice. In J. Baumann, & E. Kame'enui (Eds.), Teaching vocabulary in the primary grades: Vocabulary instruction needed (pp. 28- 40). New York: Guilford Press.Biemiller, A. (2003). Vocabulary: Needed if  more children are to read well. Reading Psychology,24, 323-335.Biemiller, A. (2010). Words worth teaching: Closing the vocabulary gap (1st ed.). USA: The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.Biemiller, A., & Boote, C. (2006). An effective method for building meaning vocabulary in primary grades. Journal o f  Educational Psychology, 98(1), 44-62.Blachowicx, C. L. Z., & Fisher, P. (2008). Attentional vocabulary instruction: Read-alouds, word play, and other motivating strategies for fostering informal word learning. In A. E. Farstrup, & S. J. Samuels (Eds.), What research has to say about vocabulary instruction (First ed., pp. 32-55) International Reading Association.Brabham, E. G., & Lynch-Brown, C. (2002). Effects o f teachers' reading-aloud styles of vocabularyGiro wing Vocabulary 35acquisition and comprehension of students in the early elementary grades. Journal o f  Educational Psychology, 94(3), 465-473.Cunningham, A. E., & Stanovich, K. E. (1997). Early reading acquisiton and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later. Developmental Psychology, 33(6), 934-945.Feldman, K., & Kinsella, K. (2005). Narrowing the language gap: The case for explicit vocabulary instruction. Scholastic Professional Paper, 1-13.Ferrance, E. (2000). Action research. Retrieved April 4,2010, from, D., Flood, J., Lapp, D., & Frey, N. (2004). Interactive read-alouds: Is there a common set of implementation practices? The Reading Teacher, 55(1), 8-25.Graves, M. F. (2008). Instruction on individual words: One size does not fit all. In A. E. Farstrup, &S. J. Samuels (Eds.), What research has to say about vocabulary instruction (First ed., pp. 56-79) International Reading Association.Hart, B., & Risley, T. R. (2003). The early catastrophe: The 30 million word gap by age 3.American Educator, 27(1), 4-9.Juel, C., & Deffes, R. (2004). Making words stick. Educational Leadership, 61(6), 30-34.Kindle, K. J. (2009). Vocabulary development during read-alouds: Primary practices. The Reading Teacher, 63(3), 202-211.Lane, H. B., & Wright, T. L. (2007). Maximizing the effectiveness o f reading aloud. International Reading Association, 668-675.McKenna, M. C., & Kear, D. J. (1990). Measuring attitude toward reading: A new tool for teachers. The Reading Teacher, 43(9), 626-639.Moses, A. (2005). Text talk: A summary o f research - promoting vocabulary and comprehension development in the primary grades. Retrieved March, 2008, fromGrowing Vocabulary Neuman, S. B., & Dwyer, J. (2009). Missing in action: Vocabulary instruction in pre-K. The Reading Teacher, 62(5), 384-392.O'Brien, R. (1998). An overview o f the methodological approach o f action research. Retrieved April 4, 2010, from Rust, F., & Clark, c. (2000). How to do action research. Retrieved February 12,2010, from Santoro, L. E., Chard, D. J., Howard, L., & Baker, S. K. (2008). Making the very most o f classroom read-alouds to promote comprehension and vocabulary. The Reading Teacher, 61(5), 396- 408.Schippert, P. (2005). Read alouds and vocabulary: A new way of teaching. Illinois Reading Council, 53(3), 11-16.Wasik, B. A. (2010). What teachers can do to promote preschoolers' vocabulary development: Strategies from an effective language and literacy professional development model. The Reading Teacher, 63(8), 621-633.Growing VocabularyAppendix AGarfield asks . . .W hat kinds o f  books do you like to listen to?Js/a m e -  ______  G r a d e ____ Sctaool -When I listen to a story about animals I feelWhen I listen to a story about kids who are about the same age as I am I feelWhen I listen to a story about outer space, aliens, and space ships I feelWhen I listen to a story that is funny I feelWhen T  listen to a story about someone's adventure I feelGrowing Vocabulary 38When I listen to a story about sports I feelWhen I listen to a story about someone solving a problem I feelWhen I listen to a story about fairies, wizards,When I listen to a story that is true I feelWhen I listen to a story that explains how something works or how something survives I feelWhen I listen to a story that rhymes I feel2 ,Growing VocabularyAppendix B TremblingAlice was so nervous that her hands were trembling.TrudgedI had just enough energy left so I trudged up the hill to my house.PleadedWhen it snowed, I pleaded for just one more sled ride before I had to go inside for the night.ZoomedWe watched the airplane zoom up into the air.MiserableWhen I was sick I was very miserable because I couldn’t go skating or sledding. GobbleIf you gobble your food, you may get a stomachache.DreadfulWhen the whales were trapped in the ice, they moaned and it was a dreadful thing to hear.ProvideMy parents will provide my team with lunch after the game.ReluctantNo one knew why the big dog was reluctant to go into the water.RareMy aunt grows several rare, unusual orchid plants.CommotionThe noisy group caused a commotion as they entered the classroom.AstonishedThe wonderful news astonished everyone.StunnedYou would be stunned if you knew how much food is wasted eveiy day.GenerousThe millionaire, who was very generous, gave money to all sorts of people. DevouredWe watched as the hungiy dog devoured the whole bowl of food.AppreciateI want you to know that I really appreciate your friendship.ExhaustedAfter I played soccer for two hours straight, I rested on my bed because I was exhausted.HaltThe police had to halt traffic until the wreck was cleared away.SpoiledThe children started fighting and soon spoiled the games.ContributedThe students in the class contributed some toys and food to the food bank at Christmas.ImmediateThe letter requires an immediate answer, so I will answer right away.ShockedThe surprise birthday party shocked and delighted the girl.ImpressHe tried to impress us by bragging about how many goals he scored during the game. DefeatThe knight decided he must defeat the terrible dragon in order to impress the princess.Growing Vocabulary 41Appendix CDateStudent Used in conver- sationFound in text/used in journalHeard in textHeard in conver­sationHeard in the mediaGrowing Vocabulary 42Appendix DGarfield Survey ResultsHumour 79%Animals 68%Non-Fiction 63%Science Fiction 53%Peers 53%Adventure 53%Sports 42%Fantasy 42%Rhyming 37%Problem Solving 32%Growing Vocabulary 43Appendix ETitle o f Book Author GenreSailor -  The Hangashore Newfoundland Dog Catherine Simpson Animal/Peer/Problem SolvingPipaluk and the Whale John Himmelman Animal/Peer/ProblemSolving/Non-FictionThe Emperor’s Egg Martin Jenkins Animal/Non-FictionAn Extraordinary Egg Leo Leonni Animal/Humour/AdventureThe Best Goalie Ever Gilles Tibo Humour/Peer/SportMice Make Trouble Becky Bloom Humour/PeerThe Mysterious Tadpole Steven Kellogg Animal/Humour/Fantasy/ProblemSolvingThe Knight Who Took All Day James Mayhew Humour/FantasySam and the Lucky Money Karen Chinn Peer/Problem SolvingThe Runaway Rice Cake Ying Chang Compestine Humour/Problem Solving/PeerHow Cold Is It? Jane Barclay Peer(Grandpa Dan’s Toboggan Ride Suzan Reid Humour/Peer/Adveriture/RhymeGrowing Vocabulary 44Appendix FSpecific vocabulary teaching strategies: Checklist#ofStudents/19whoknewwordbeforeunitWord (24 words)# ofstudents/19whoknewwordafterunitDifferencebetweenpretestandpost testDramaactivityActionormovementWritingactivityDrawingactivityDiscussion of word2 trembling 14 12 ✓ ✓1 trudged 15 14 ✓ ✓10 pleaded 18 8 ✓ ✓14 zoomed 19 5 ✓ ✓7 miserable 12 5 ✓ ✓ ✓6 gobble 15 9 V ✓3 dreadful 12 9 ✓1 provide 11 10 ✓2 reluctant 12 10 ✓8 rare 13 5 ✓12 commotion 14 2 ✓ ✓5 astonish 12 7 ✓ ✓3 stunned 11 8 ✓11 generous 16 5 ✓10 devour 18 8 ✓5 appreciate 12 7 ✓17 exhausted 19 2 ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓8 halt 18 10 ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓3 spoil 14 11 ✓12 contribute 16 4 ✓10 immediate 18 8 ✓ ✓11 shocked 17 6 ✓ ✓2 impress 6 4 ✓8 defeat 16 8 ✓


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