I was back in Walled Lake, Michigan again today. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for Spring. I can hear the birds and I am ready for the warmth. I asked the kids in Walled Lake, MI today what they like best about the Spring. Their answers included taking walks, riding bikes, and longer days. I even had a little boy who goes fishing. Some of the students live right on a lake.
The reason why we were talking about Spring was because we read the book Everything Spring by Jill Esbaum. This is a National Geographic book that has some pretty amazing pictures in it. It describes the weather, the outdoors, and baby animals. What really brings my attention to this book is the ability to increase tier 2 vocabulary. Beck and McKeown described three tiers of vocabulary back in 1988. They described tier 1 words as words that everyone knows. Tier two words are words that are what I like to call, juicy words. Tier 3 words are content specific.
Some of the words in this book that I love are slumbering, tiptoes, nudges, unfurl, silken, and rippling. These are what I like to call juicy words. They are not words that we use in our everyday language and they are often the kinds of words that trip us up when we are reading. They can confuse or they can clarify.
One of the strategies that I use when I am reading a book to a group of kids is to provide them with additional information about the words when I am reading them. I finish the sentence and then I talk about the word to make it come alive. In essence I am giving them more background information for them to understand the word.
Just by talking about words you can increase a child’s vocabulary. However, a child needs to actually use a word 7 to 11 times on their own before it becomes a part of their vocabulary. Therefore, it is important to get a child to use the word in their own contexts.
Currently I am tutoring a boy in Seattle whose main focus is on increasing his receptive and expressive vocabulary. When we come across words that he does not know the meaning of we learn more about that word. We go to dictionary.com for the definition, the synonym, and the antonym. Then, we think of an example of when it would be appropriate to use this word. We save these words on a PowerPoint and review them. Then, I try to embed the vocabulary words into our conversations. When a character is acting like one of the vocabulary words, I use complete sentences to explain that.
Take a listen to my skyping session with Ms. Bonds class to hear how I expanded on the vocabulary in the book.