Not This But That: Vocabulary Instruction

Have you checked out any of the titles from Heinemann's Not This But That book series?  They're bite size literacy versions of awesome.  They're small and each book is under 100 pages from start to finish.  The books in this series are divided into three sections:

Not This: This section is an overview of a common instruction practice.

Why Not? What Works?: The second section of the book focuses on what we know about best practice for the topic.

But That: And the final section focuses on implementation of these ideas in our classrooms.

Here are a some of the titles available:
This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links and allows me feed my book habit!

You can see a full list from Heinemann here and here's an Amazon list if you like getting books in 2 days.  #primespoiledmeforlife

This month I read No More "Look Up the List" Vocabulary Instruction.  It was a huge eye opener.
Know your vocabulary instruction is lacking but not sure how to make the change?  This book is a perfect (and fast) overview of what works in vocabulary instruction as well as what doesn't.

Vocabulary is the red headed step child of literacy instruction and one I don't feel I have a strong understanding of.  I loved this book and think it's amazing resource for getting a quick but deep understanding of the challenges of vocabulary instruction as well as strategies that work.

Why?

Because authentically teaching vocabuary is hard.  Why is it so hard to move beyond look up the list instruction?  "Yet we continue to teach this way.  Why? Like most of us, we default to teaching the way we were taught." Unlike guided reading, conferring, and book clubs, there just isn't a ton out there for teachers on how to teach vocabulary.

Aha Moment

I love this quote.  "You'll learn ways to help students realize that words are something they can acquire and that by learning the right strategies they can be successful, independent word learners."
Teaching kids to be independent words learners > trying to teaching students individual words.  Duh.  How did I never think of that????

I Wish

There was a greater awareness of thinking of teaching vocabulary as multi-faceted.  This book breaks it down into four components:

•Foster word consciousness
•Provide rich and varied language experiences
•Teach individual words (even this is broken into three levels)
•Teach word learning strategies

Reading about the multiple components of teaching vocabulary instruction only confirms even more so that looking up words in the dictionary or using vocabulary workbooks helps us check off the vocabulary box in our lesson plans but misses the mark with our students.

Surprise

The power of self-selection.  In a study on fourth grade students, researchers found that self-selection did not water down vocabulary.  Instead students chose words of greater difficulty, and they learned the words they selected.
Let's be honest, we can sometimes sell our students short.  However, "Choice has been identified as a powerful force that allows students to take ownership and responsibility for their learning.  Studies indicate that motivation increases when students have opportunities to make choices about what they learn and when they believe they have autonomy or control over their learning." (Gambrell, 2011)  It only makes sense that this would be true within vocabulary instruction.

Good For . . .

An language arts or content area teacher.  This book does a good job of addressing the varying vocabulary needs across the curriculum.  Whether you have a language arts focus or are a content area teacher, this book speaks to the vocabulary needs in your classroom.

Wise Words

Know your vocabulary instruction is lacking but not sure how to make the change?  This book is a perfect (and fast) overview of what works in vocabulary instruction as well as what doesn't.

Know your vocabulary instruction is lacking but not sure how to make the change?  This book is a perfect (and fast) overview of what works in vocabulary instruction as well as what doesn't.

Know your vocabulary instruction is lacking but not sure how to make the change?  This book is a perfect (and fast) overview of what works in vocabulary instruction as well as what doesn't.

Know your vocabulary instruction is lacking but not sure how to make the change?  This book is a perfect (and fast) overview of what works in vocabulary instruction as well as what doesn't.
I hope you'll dive deep into vocabulary instruction with No More "Look Up the List" Vocabulary Instruction.  I love the format of this series with and plan to read more.  Any other vocabulary must reads I need to add to my list?

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