UBC Graduate Research

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


During 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.28). Knowing that active participation during interactive read-alouds is more conducive to vocabulary learning than passive listening to a dramatic reading of a story, I posed this question: Would the implementation of specific vocabulary teaching strategies in the context of interactive read-alouds improve Grade One students's vocabulary? During the read-alouds, I used various teaching strategies to teach the students 24 vocabulary words selected from 12 specific stories. Data consisted of pre and post-instructional observational notes about the students' usage of 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 of the instructional unit and demonstrated an understanding of 18 of the 24 target words at the end of the unit. Overall, there was evidence of 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 of 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.

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