Posted in Professional Development, Summer Reading, Teaching

Thoughts on Summer Reading Part 3

Is Three Blog Updates in one day too many?  Did I do too much reading and thinking today?  Am I obsessed with learning and teaching?  I’ve often heard too much of anything is bad?  Am I headed down the rabbit hole with no possibility of escape?  Am I going to be too prepared for September?

Of course not silly head, you can never be too prepared for a new school year.  Preparation is the key to success. 

So, I read another chapter of the text Questions from the Classroom and was a little dissapointed that there were no standout ideas or activities for me to take away.  The chapter was answering the question, How can you integrate vocabulary instruction across disciplines?  Great question.  I have often wondered that.  I’ve tried different activities over the years to try and help my students build upon their vocabulary base, but were they effective?  Did my students effectively learn new words that will help them in their journey towards knowledge?  So, I was hoping to find a new strategy or activity I could use to better support my students as they learn new concepts and vocabulary words.  However, I came up empty handed.  

But alas, this chapter and reading time was not a complete waste.  It did validate my hypothesis on effective vocabulary instruction.  Teaching students vocabulary terms through definitions and a test is not an effective method of teaching vocabulary.  Students need to be engaged with the vocabulary terms, fully understand and comprehend them in meaningful ways, and be able to use them in other contexts.  The way most teachers approach vocabulary instruction is ineffective and useless.  Once students pass the vocabulary test, they forget the words because they never see them again, and if they do encounter the words again, they often don’t recall what they mean if used out of the context in which they were tested.  So, what’s the point?  I’ve always thought about vocabulary instruction as an aspect of teaching in general.  All concepts and ideas have associated vocabulary terms, which means that all teachers are vocabulary teachers.  We need to help students learn to decipher, decode, and comprehend unknown words in various contexts.  This book verified everything I been propsoing and suggesting for the past few years about vocabulary instruction: It can’t be a standalone entity.  Vocabulary instruction is not a strategy, but the key to unlocking content, concepts, and ideas and needs to be addressed accordingly.

So, in retrospect, I guess I did learn something from this chapter: I was right.  It feels good to be right every once in a while.  Now I need to go and tell my wife as this may be the first time I’ve been right all week.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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