Tag Archives: vocabulary

Language Development and the 30 million “word gap”

17 Oct

Recently in the news there has been several stories about the research of psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley about the huge discrepancies between the language and interaction experiences of children from high income families vs. low income families. The news stories reference a “30 million word gap”, which is the gap between the number of words a low income child will hear by the time he/she is 3 years old versus the number of words a high income child will hear. Follow-up studies have shown that this gap has tremendous impact on vocabulary, language development, and reading comprehension during the school age years.

I think the most important information to be gleaned from the studies is not that we need to be focusing on the amount of words a child hears before age 3 but on the quality of the interactions and conversations that parents/caregivers are having with their small children.

I recommend these two articles for reading more about how to provide the best quality interactions and language stimulation for young children:

Good Talk: Raising Smart Learners Through Rich Conversations from MindShift

Stop Talking – and Start Listening To – Your Baby from Time

Both have excellent information and sources of additional information.


Tier Two Vocabulary Activities for Second and Third Graders

8 Sep

Now that I know my caseload for this year I have discovered that I have a huge group of second through fifth graders with vocabulary and semantic goals. Many of them are English Language Learners as well! I realized I am going to need a very systematic way to address my kid’s semantic goals so that they make progress and I don’t go crazy!

To teach vocabulary this year I have decided to focus on “tier two” words. What are tier two words? Tier two vocabulary words are high-frequency words that occur throughout multiple domains and have been shown to strongly impact speaking and reading. They are crucial for reading comprehension and increasing a student’s descriptive vocabulary. Basically, they are the words that give you the biggest bang for your buck when teaching vocabulary!

Tier Two Vocabulary CurriculumI developed this Tier Two Vocabulary Curriculum and Activities Pack for second and third graders (or older kids working at that level) with an eye on identifying a set of words for each grade level and then creating activities and games that will target those words. I also focused on including activities that increase comprehension and word-learning strategies like using context clues, formulating sentences, and connecting words to the kid’s own lives.

The pack has 60 tier two words targeted (30 at each grade level). The words are broken up into 10 units with 6 words in each unit. Each unit has worksheets and game cards for all of the words. The game cards can be used with any turn-taking game or board game. They are divided into three categories – synonyms, multiple choice, and connections (open ended questions connecting the vocabulary to something they know.)

An example of one of the worksheets in the pack

An example of one of the worksheets in the pack

I want to make a word wall this year so I included all the words on word wall card cutouts in three different designs so you can either use a lot of color ink or just a little bit of black ink – your choice! I tried to keep the amount of ink used to a minimum throughout the packet because that stuff is expensive!

Chevron preview

There are also graphic organizers included so your kids can make a vocabulary notebook or keep track of the words they are learning. I think my favorite part of the pack are the “Apples to Apples” style cards included that target all 20 adjectives that are targeted in the curriculum. My kids and I never get sick of “Apples to Apples” so I can’t wait to sneak their vocabulary targets in!

I am working on finishing up a pack for my fourth and fifth graders as well. This project definitely kept growing bigger than I originally planned and there are still more things to add to it I just need to find the time!

You can find the pack on Teachers Pay Teachers here.

If you have any ideas for the types of activities you would like to see added to this kind of a packet please let me know!