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Teaching Words and How They Work

Small Changes for Big Vocabulary Results

Elfrieda H. Hiebert

168 pages
Teachers College Press

Research shows that vocabulary is the best support for students’ comprehension of narrative and information texts. Often, vocabulary instruction focuses on a few target words in specific texts. However, to understand the many new words in complex texts students need to know how words work. This book, written by an award-winning authority on reading instruction, shows teachers how to make small changes to teach more words and also how words work. Many of these small changes involve enrichments to existing vocabulary practices, such as word walls and conversations with students. Each chapter includes descriptions of teachers’ implementation of small changes to support big gains in students’ vocabulary. This book, which has sufficient depth in research and theory for graduate and undergraduate courses in vocabulary instruction, also offers practical steps that K–8 teachers can use in any reading program to help all students grow their vocabulary.

Teaching Words and How They Work shows teachers how to:

  • Identify the most important word families to teach.
  • Teach students to use opening text as background knowledge for comprehending the rest of the text.
  • Use word walls with more purpose and greater student engagement.
  • Select the right words to teach from new information texts.
  • Better understand limitations of leveled texts and how to adjust.
  • Use assets and address challenges to support English learners.
  • Access free mentor and teacher resources online at textproject.org.
Author Bio

Elfrieda H. Hiebert is president and CEO of TextProject, Inc., recipient of Literacy Research Association’s Oscar S. Causey Award for outstanding contributions to reading research, and coauthor (with P. David Pearson) of Research-Based Practices for Teaching Common Core Literacy.