Vocabulary Instruction is “Not One-Size Fits All”


Dependence on a single vocabulary instruction method will not result in optimal learning.” – 2000 National Reading Panel

One method of teaching vocabulary won’t achieve optimal learning. We need a variety of tools in our vocabulary tool boxes to improve vocabulary scores. 65% of 4th and 8th grade students are below proficient in reading comprehension (National Center for Education Statistics). Vocabulary is a major building block for reading comprehension, so to improve reading comprehension we need to improve vocabulary scores.

Best practices for vocabulary instruction include:(Beck & McKeown)

  1. active engagement
  2. multiple contexts
  3. using visuals
  4. repetition
  5. morphology
  6. semantics
  7. kinesthetics (drama)

Looking up a definition in a dictionary is no longer the only way we need to be attacking vocabulary. Teaching use of context clues, using drama to act out words, drawing on personal experiences with words, using graphic organizers, creating visuals, etc. are just some of the tools that need to be used in vocabulary instruction.

We love it when teachers assign homework for InferCabulary. It meets the requirements for active engagement, multiple contexts, use of visuals and repetition of words. Teachers can check that their students have done the homework by accessing the student’s report which is printable and gives them information on words the student has learned, words they have struggled with and words that he is progressing on. It also tells them when the student accessed the program and what “climbs” or quiz modes were achieved.

Add new research-based tools to your vocabulary tool box, so your students can achieve optimal learning, increase vocabulary knowledge and improve reading comprehension.

  1. Beck & McKeown, Bringing Words to Life, 2nd Edition.