13. Vocabulary Strategies and Tools


vocab books

Blog Post Agenda:

In a hurry? Grab this pdf file VOCAB STRATEGIES and TOOLS 🙂
4. END OF BLOG POST BONUS (Primary Wall) 🙂


Adequate vocabulary development is extremely important. Vocabulary is a vital factor in the development of reading skills and research shows that it is a good predictor of school achievement, as well (Beck, MsKeown, & Kucan, 2002). According to vocabulary experts, a person can comprehend a text if 90 to 95 percent of the words in a text are known (Hirsch, 2003).

Experts indicated that children from privileged families have receptive vocabularies that are 5 times larger than children who come from disadvantaged homes. However, children from families of lower socio-economic status whose parents talked around 30,000 words showed the same results as their wealthier peers. Parents who use a lot of short imperative commands when talking to their children (Come here! Go outside!) contribute to a weak vocabulary development for their pre school-age children as opposed to parents who adopt a narrative approach and have expansive conversations with them. Also, Dr. Hart and Dr. Risley undertook a study in 1995 and showed that the average word count heard by children per day is correlated with IQ at age 3 and up.

7,430= 79 IQ
12,810= 107 IQ
21,105=117+ IQ

Not all students come to school with an adequate level of vocabulary to ensure academic success, and not all of them acquire an adequate amount of vocabulary each year. Literature has shown that students need to know 90 to 95 percent of the words in a text in order to comprehend it. On average, students must use a word 12 times before it is mastered (Calderon, 2006).

In 1st grade students have a vocabulary of about 10, 000 words, and they learn about 3,000-5,000 more words a year reaching about 60,000 when graduating from high school (high performing high school students in the US).

It definitely seems a daunting task.

words to know!

Taking into account the enormous amount of vocabulary that needs to be retained by students in order for them to achieve academic success, teachers need to find strategic ways to guide their instruction not overlooking vocabulary which is a vital aspect for academic success. Because focusing teaching on vocabulary students need to posses would definitely seem an impossible task, teachers need to embed strategic vocabulary instruction into their curriculum focusing on meaningful words and teaching students word learning strategies. Repeated exposure to new vocabulary words is very important, alongside with intensive and extensive reading. Nothing helps reading more than reading. The same applies to vocabulary development.

Some vocabulary experts recommended teachers to focus on tier 2 vocabulary words since they appear with much higher frequency than tier three words, and are used across domains (Beck, 2002).

Beck’s suggested ranking the words in three tiers:

Tier One: Basic words that rarely require instructional focus (book, dog, run).

Tier Two: Words that appear with high frequency, across a variety of domains, and are crucial when using mature, academic language (polysemous words like power, trunk, run; transition words like therefore, moreover, over the course of, etc).

Tier Three: Frequency of these words is quite low and often limited to specific fields of study (isotope, summoned, quotient).

Teachers should increase the classroom use of academic vocabulary while designing authentic and meaningful activities.


For a better view or to access the hyperlinks, download this pdf VOCAB STRATEGIES and TOOLS, or otherwise you can just view them below:



common core

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
4. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
5. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
6. Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.

4. END-OF-BLOG-POST BONUS (Primary Wall)


PrimaryWall is a web-based sticky note tool which allows students and teachers to work together in real-time by adding sticky notes to a group wall. The message typed by users appears on the online collaborative wall instantly for everyone else online to read.

It is extremely easy to use and very kid-friendly. You need to sign up for an account, and all your walls will be saved in your account. After you created a wall, all students need to do is give a title to their note, write some content, and type in their name at the bottom of the note. Users can use different backgrounds for their wall papers.

Going to security you can allow others to have free access to the wall or only using a specific password. After creating your wall you can do 4 things: you can share a read only link, a link that allows other users to contribute to your wall, you can also get an embed code, and you can also export your wall as a list. TRICK: Don’t forget to go to Security, and select “everyone” or “everyone with a password,” so that all students who will collaborate will have access to that wall, not just the person who created it. Afterwards, just share the link with all students who will be collaborating, and all they have to do is type that URL in.

I have used it for vocabulary practice with my students. For the title of the note, they typed in the word they wanted to use in a sentence, and for the content of the note, they typed in their sentence. Consequently, we had a collection of sentences using the new words. This tool can easily be used as an entry or exit ticket. Students can reflect on their learning, list important things they have learned, or questions they might have labeling their notes with appropriate titles. You can check out a sample here. 🙂

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! :)

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Echevarria, M. (2008). 99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Language Learners. Boston, Pearson Allyn and Bacon.

Roger, Spence. (2011). Teaching for Excellence. Essential Concepts, Strategies, Techniques, and Processes for Ensuring Performance Excellence for All Kids (3rd ed.) Peak Learning Systems.

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This entry was posted in 21st century skills, Communication tools, Educational Technology, Instructional Strategies, iPad, Second Language Learners. Bookmark the permalink.

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