My Topic and Purpose
My topic focuses on teaching pre-K students vocabulary words within their classroom setting.
Teachers are given specific unit topics and standards to teach their students in Pre-K. Within these units are an extensive amount of vocabulary words that must be introduced and explained to the students. This course will analyze the standards and expectations that the state holds on teachers and students as well as effective strategies and resources to use in order to successfully teach vocabulary within a Pre-K classroom.
Learners will be able to:
- Examine New York State's Pre-K curriculum in regards to vocabulary standards and expectations
- Identify effective strategies that will assist in teaching Pre-K students vocabulary words
Instructional Problems: The environment within a Pre-K classroom includes an abundance of literacy which not only flows through the air, but can be found on all walls, doors, and windows. This literate filled classroom is the center, and beginning, of authentic learning found in school. Vocabulary development has a strong influence on literacy skills found within students’, seen within the later grades, as well as academic success, seen across academic disciplines. Mayer (2007) suggests that “if building a vocabulary is a prerequisite for learning to read, it is useful to ask where children’s vocabularies come from and how best to foster this vocabulary growth” (p. 63).
Teaching vocabulary is supposed to be less "drill" and more learning through reading and exploring environments. In the younger grades specifically, it is important to introduce many vocabulary words, but teachers are left wondering how to do so when provided with minimal resources. The intent of this course is to help teachers, specifically special educators or pre-k teachers, learn strategies in teaching vocabulary to their students. Vocabulary instruction cannot rely solely on children's books recommended by the curriculum. Teachers will have to introduce and engage students in vocabulary learning using different approaches. The intent of this course is to help assist teachers in teaching specific vocabulary words to their students. The benefits of teaching vocabulary as well as language development benefits will also be reviewed.
What is to be Learned: Learners will become informed on how to teach effective vocabulary instruction within their classroom using beneficial, and research approved strategies. Participants will engage their students in hands-on learning environments that will inevitably assist them in learning new vocabulary words while expanding their language. A unit within the pre-k curriculum regarding Transportation will be used as an example for demonstrating activities that correlate with vocabulary learning. The intent of this course is to examine the amount of vocabulary that is displayed in given resources and how to extend learning using teacher creativity.
Gathering Information & Results: In order to better understand the need for this course, I assessed the curriculums recommendations for books regarding specific themes. For this specific example, I used the Transportation theme (i.e., one out of the nine units provided in the pre-k curriculum) in order to demonstrate that vocabulary instruction cannot be relied on with read alouds. Four foundational texts were examined and analyzed in order to see how much vocabulary is being portrayed in children's books. As stated earlier, this course is using the unit "Transportation" as an example. Within this unit, 74 vocabulary words are included in the curriculum. The following results show how many vocabulary words are within the following foundational texts for this unit:
Book 1: Go! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper = 3 vocabulary words found within the text + 8 vocabulary words found within illustrations
Book 2: The Bus For Us by Suzanne Bloom = 5 vocabulary words found within the text + 3 vocabulary words found within illustrations
Book 3: Whose Vehicle is This? by Sharon Katz Cooper = 19 vocabulary words found within the text + 1 vocabulary word found within illustrations
Book 4: What Do Wheels Do All Day? = 1 vocabulary word found within the text + 15 vocabulary words found within illustration
By analyzing children's books individually, it can be shown that all vocabulary words within the unit are not being covered solely through books. Other strategies and techniques will need to be used in order for vocabulary exposure and instruction.
Analysis of the Learner and Context
Learner Analysis: In general, this course will be used for educators and other professionals in the education field seeking knowledge about how to effectively teach vocabulary specifically in the Pre-K classroom. An example unit from this age group will be analyzed and assessed. Participants will become knowledgeable in teaching their students vocabulary within their classroom setting.
Context for Instruction: Participants will learn content within this mini-course online, in the location of his or her choosing. Delivery of the content will require the use of a computer and a stable Internet connection.
Participants will be able to:
- Identify the curriculum standards of vocabulary related to Pre-K by matching them to classroom based activities.
- Structure activities and chunk these tasks to guide student learning regarding vocabulary development with the assistance of a rubric.
- Reflect on and compare the strategies used for vocabulary development as well as the impact it takes on student learning.
Unit 1: What are the vocabulary words and standards in a given Pre-K unit, and how can I collect data for a pre-assessment regarding these words?
- Learners will identify the standards based in Pre-K regarding vocabulary.
- Learners will identify the vocabulary words in a given unit of their choice.
- Learners will observe ways to collect data and form their own version with their particular vocabulary words for the unit they are teaching.
Unit 2: How can you provide opportunities for more vocabulary based learning within your classroom setting?
- Learners will compile the resources they have within a classroom and analyze the benefits of vocabulary instruction within these resources.
- Learners will identify important strategies for teaching vocabulary.
- Learners will create ways to implement vocabulary instruction throughout hands-on activities during their center time.
Unit 3: How can you gather post-assessment data and what were these findings?
- Learners will reflect in a journal entry discussing the progression that the individual students made.
- Learners will gather information regarding post-assessment data after observing ways to compile information
Mayer, Richard E. (2007). Learning and Instruction, Second edition. Merrill Prentice Hall. ISBN: 9780131707719.
New York State Prekindergarten Foundation for the Common Core. (2011). Retrieved from http://p12.nysed.gov/earlylearning/standards/documents/PrekindergartenFoundationfortheCommonCore.pdf.