Extensive research shows the positive correlation between a student's vocabulary and student achievement. The size of a student's vocabulary in kindergarten is actually a predictor of their ability to learn to read. A robust vocabulary gives students the ability to express themselves and comprehend complex material. It impacts reading, writing, comprehension, listening, and speaking. Research also shows that teaching vocabulary in isolation (ie. teacher gives students a list of words, students define or match words with definitions, student writes a sentence using the word) does not produce a robust vocabulary.
North Smithfield Schools has been implementing the generative vocabulary strategy. “Generative refers to the ability to apply knowledge of how words work when encountering new words. Generative instruction aims to make visible to students critical features and functions of words and connections among words. This knowledge is intended to support students in generating meanings of unknown words in texts.” (Hiebert, Elfrieda. “Generative Vocabulary Instruction.” Heibert-Pearson-Generative-vocabulary-instruction.pdf.)
All elementary teachers have received professional development to implement this strategy seamlessly into their language arts instruction. More recently, North Smithfield Middle School ELA teachers participated in a professional development series including a full day workshop on “MORPHOLOGY: GREEK AND LATIN ROOTS” through the Brainispring Educator Academy.
Using the generative vocabulary strategy, teachers develop a graphic organizer and use it daily to define the word, identify multiple meanings for the word, discuss the root word as well as the prefixes, suffixes, synonyms and antonyms. In the upper grades teachers also teach Greek and Latin root morphology.
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Mark Twain
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Clare Arnold, Assistant Superintendent