I was very interested in the different approaches taken to pre-reading and post-reading vocabulary instruction. Pre-reading vocabulary should, of course, be limited to a few words that are most relevant to the content being taught and help ensure comprehension of the reading. Post-reading vocabulary is at least partly driven by words that are of interest to students, and I find this to be an extremely exciting idea.
The old-school method of memorizing word lists, which was how I learned vocabulary words in high school, is proven to be ineffective for many students. It worked okay for me, I suppose, because I have a very good memory, and I have always been interested in words. I recall in 11th grade being given a list of ten words and definitions every Monday and being tested on them every Friday. I almost always got a perfect score on those. However, when I began to prepare for the AP English exam, it was overwhelming to study much longer lists of words without any context. Teaching vocabulary in the context of subject content makes a lot more sense.
Social interactions are also a crucial component of learning vocabulary. I can remember my group of friends becoming infatuated with a particular word and using it all the time, similar to the story Ruddell tells about her students and the word “behoove.” In fact, I think “behoove” was one of those words we were obsessed with for a time.
I will most definitely use several of Ruddell’s vocabulary-building strategies with my tutoring student. As we were reading through the first chapter of The Hunger Games yesterday, I noted a dozen or so words that he stumbled over or did not know. There were several that we looked up. I suppose we were using a version of CSSR, but it would behoove us to formalize it so he can start to develop a functional system of his own.
With those words in mind, I plan to prepare a Cloze Reading activity for our next meeting on Thursday to help reinforce these new words. I also plan to enact a VSS strategy with this student so he can keep up with all the words he is learning and continue to revisit it. I will ask him to suggest some words of his own for the list from the reading he will do independently.
Chapter 6, on ELL students ,mostly covered much of what I have read about ELL elsewhere. I don’t know that I found anything surprising about it. Meeting the diverse cultural and linguistic needs of ELL learners and bilingual students is the reality of today’s classrooms. I did appreciate the way Ruddell adapts some of the teaching strategies previously discussed in the context of these exceptional learners, and I think that part of the chapter could be a useful reference for me in my teaching.
Ruddell, M. (2008). In Teaching Content Reading and Writing (5th Ed). (pp.146-231). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.