Thursday, September 1, 2016

Reading Strategies Goal 11: Understanding Vocabulary and Figurative Language

Welcome to our book study of The Reading Strategies Book:  Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers by Jennifer Serravallo! I am joining forces with some other fabulous teacher bloggers to discuss the reading strategies we come across in this AMAZING professional text!  If you missed my first post about this book study, you can find it here, along with a suggested way to set up your book for easy reference.

You can also find my thoughts and ideas on other goals in this book below:


Goal 1: Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emergent Readers   
Goal 2: Reading Engagement   
Goal 3: Supporting Print Work  
Goal 4:  Fluency
Goal 5:   Supporting Comprehension in Fiction Main Idea and Plot
Goal 6:  Supporting Comprehension in Fiction Characters
Goal 7:  Supporting Comprehension in Fiction Theme  
Goal 8: Supporting Comprehension in Non-Fiction - Main Idea  
Goal 9: Supporting Comprehension in Non-Fiction - Key Details   
Goal 10 - Supporting Comprehension in Non-Fiction - Text Features



This goal is all about improving comprehension by helping students to understand vocabulary and figurative language.

Study after study has linked a reader's ability to understand vocabulary and language in text to their reading comprehension.  Research has shown that in order for students to truly understand what they read, they must be able to understand 95% or more of the words in the text.

Because vocabulary is so crucial, many schools and teachers have rushed to implement vocabulary programs.  However, Serravallo points out that research suggests that most vocabulary learning occurs unconsciously through normal reading, writing, speaking, and listening activities.  The best way for teachers to support vocabulary growth is "by creating a classroom in which children read  a lot are encouraged to notice when words are news, learn strategies for figuring out what those words may mean, and are encouraged to use those words when they write and speak.




There are several ways to determine if this goal is right for your students.  One way is to use a standardized grade level vocabulary assessment. Flocabulary has grade level lists here.   

You could also ask about unknown words in linger passages to see if students have the ability to read for clues and details to infer the meaning of the word.  Students who don't know a lot of words, or don't have the skills to figure out meaning will benefit from this strategy.




Focus Strategy 1: Retire Overworked Words

We have probably all noticed the words that our students tend to use over and over again.  When they describe their characters as "nice", or how they had "fun" over the summer.  You may have wondered how to break your students of this habit, and if you have, this strategy is for you!


I love that this strategy not only benefits their reading skills, but also their writing skills as well.  

Using this strategy, you tell the student that they need to notice when they choose these overworked words, and then stop and say, " What do I really mean here?"  They should then revise their language to be more specific.  Instead of saying a character is nice, they might ask themselves what things the character does that makes them nice.  Perhaps they go share their toys, or go out of their way to make a new student feel welcome.  In these situations, the character might be better described as generous or compassionate.

When I use this strategy, I try to have a character trait list available to help students pick better word choices.


Mrs. R has a free one available here.





Focus Strategy 2: Insert a Synonym

This strategy asks students to insert a word that they know would fit the sentence when they come to an unfamiliar word.


For example, if a student encountered the word furious in a sentence, but didn't know the meaning, they could replace that word with a word that might make sense.

"When her best friend grabbed her toy, she was furious with him."

The student would ask themselves what word might make sense.  How would they feel if their friend grabbed their toy? Mad? Angry?




Focus Strategy 3: Word Part Clues - Prefixes and Suffixes

This is a strategy that we use often in third and fourth grade because we study prefixes and suffixes.  In this strategy, students use word parts they may already know to determine the meaning of an unknown word.  I have a word wall for upper elementary kids that focuses just on these word parts.






Remember, we are only picking and choosing some of the strategies to share with you - there are so many more great ones in this section as well as the rest of the book!



If you would like to purchase the book mentioned above, you can find it here.



Other books by this author that I LOVE!






This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase using one of my links, which helps to support the blog.  All opinions are my own and I only promote brands and products that I have used myself and truly love. 

If you would like to link up your own blog posts about this book, feel free to do so in the linky below!

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