New this Summer! IDA’s Perspectives on Vocabulary

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June 2015

“The gap in vocabulary acquisition between those dwelling on the higher rungs of America’s economic divide and those at the bottom remains pervasive and persistently troubling,” write the editors of the next issue of Perspectives on Language and Literacy (Perspectives), IDA’s quarterly publication that translates current research in the field into practices and strategies for the classroom. The summer issue will be available in digital form at and mailed to IDA members in late July. (Click here for more information on becoming a member of IDA).

Each issue of Perspectives tackles a theme or topic of particular interest to educators in the field, and much has happened since the last time Perspectives addressed this important topic. “Vocabulary is a critical element in the development of literacy,” stress the theme editors of the issue, Michele Berg, Ph.D., and Sara Buckerfield. It “fills the textbooks, research articles, and agendas of many a school district’s professional development sessions.”

In addition to the theme editors’ introduction to this special edition, this issue includes articles from leading experts in the field:

  • “Which Words Are Worth Teaching?” by Andrew Biemiller about knowing which words to teach, which level of knowing a word is most critical, and how many words must be learned for children who are behind in reading achievement to catch up.
  • “Are You Lactating? On the Importance of Academic Language” by Timothy Shanahan presents varying views on the meaning of the term, academic vocabulary, and offers insights on how teachers can ensure a hearty dose of words that pack a powerful academic punch.
  • “Preschool Vocabulary Learning and Instruction” by Theresa A. Roberts about elements critical to vocabulary acquisition in preschool children with specific information about dual language learners and children living in low socioeconomic settings.
  • “The Power of Content-Rich Vocabulary Instruction” by Susan B. Neuman and Tanya S. Wright offers a content-rich vocabulary teaching method for elementary age students.
  • “The Fundamentals of Academic Vocabulary: Essential Concepts for Middle School Students and Their Teachers” by Jennifer Greene deepens the definition of academic vocabulary as it pertains to middle school students and provides an instructional framework to guide teachers in their planning and teaching.
  • “Evidence-based Vocabulary Instruction for English Language Learners” by Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan focuses on English learners and how to adjust instruction to ensure that vocabulary acquisition for this large swath of the student population is at its most effective.
  • “Reading with Your Ears and Other Uses of Technology to Build Vocabulary” by Alexis Filippini illuminates the ever-evolving treasure trove of technology-based software and apps designed to augment and assist educators in teaching word meanings to students with or without a diagnosed reading disorder.
  • “Applying Imagery to Vocabulary Instruction” by ARK Institute of Learning describes how to incorporate student-created visual representations of word meaning as a method of solidifying the understanding and memory of new vocabulary.
  • “A Word Selection Grid: Choosing Vocabulary to Teach” by Nancy Chapel Eberhardt and Margie Gillis to assist teachers in their selection of and cognitive preparation for teaching new vocabulary to their students.
  • “Using Assessment Data to Make a Difference in Vocabulary Outcomes” by Michael Coyne provides information on how to assess vocabulary learning and a chart that captures recent trends and future directions in vocabulary assessment.

As an added bonus the issue includes two book reviews:

  • Nancy Chapel Eberhardt reviews Academic Conversations: Classroom Talk That Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understandings by Jeff Zwiers and Marie Crawford
  • Lynn Kuhn reviews All About Words: Increasing Vocabulary in the Common Core Classroom, PreK-2 by Susan B. Neuman and Tanya S. Wright.

The multiple aspects of vocabulary development and instruction addressed by this issue will help educators understand best practices for growing students’ vocabularies and closing the vocabulary gap.

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