web analytics
March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Literacy Illuminated (Conclusion


Schonfeld-012712

In the previous two columns, we focused on phonics, sight-reading, comprehension and fluency. While phonics and sight-reading are different approaches to reading instruction, comprehension and fluency measure the level at which a student reads.  This column is focused on two of the building blocks of reading: vocabulary and spelling. Often, vocabulary and spelling are seen as divorced from successful reading, but in reality, they go hand in hand with proficient reading.

Consider for example, the difference between a fifth grader and an twelfth grader reading from the first few lines of the Declaration of Independence:

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

You can imagine that the fifth grader might only stumble over the pronunciation of two or three words, such as “impel” and “unalienable.” However, if you asked that fifth grader what the passage meant without giving any definitions, she would probably look at you with a blank stare, not having comprehended more than a few words. She might say something like, “Um, something about nature. And people all being equal.” In contrast, though the twelfth grader might not use words like “self-evident” or “dissolve” on a daily basis, she would almost certainly be able to give you a working definition of the passage. This difference illustrates the importance of reading. Yes, a child could learn to read without understanding any of the words she is reading, but then, she might as well be reading a foreign language. So, why is vocabulary so important?

 

Vocabulary Matters

Scholastic’s Reading Research Network explains the crucial importance of vocabulary:

As seen with the fifth grader and the twelfth grader, comprehension improves when you know what words mean (after all, knowing what things mean is the definition of comprehension). Since fluent comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading, understanding what words mean cannot be emphasized enough.

Words are the currency of communication. The more words you know, the more you are able to communicate in all forms of interactions: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Parents often admonish their children, “Use your words. I can’t understand you if you don’t explain yourself to me.”  When children and adolescents improve their vocabulary, their social competence and confidence grows.

 

Improving Vocabulary

There are lots of different ways to improve vocabulary knowledge. The method that most indirectly, yet most efficiently improves vocabulary is reading. Read to your children from a young age, and once they are old enough encourage them to read on their own.  Try to be available to answer their questions while they are reading – and if you don’t know the word – pull out a dictionary and learn something new together!

Andrew Biemiller, the former director of the master’s program in child study and education at the University of Toronto, recently spoke at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education about the importance of teaching vocabulary in the classroom. His solution to solving what he believes to be a vocabulary gap: “by teaching vocabulary–10 and 12 word meanings a week in the primary grades—children will be able to identify more words and meanings as they get older.” His research indicates that with 30 minutes of instruction a day, a child can begin to fill the vocabulary gap that currently exists.

At home, children can play “matching” games with vocabulary. Older children can create their own versions of the game, using pairs of cards with words and their definitions. This way, they choose which words they want to learn and are interesting to them. Then, together with friends or siblings who are similar ages, they can turn learning vocabulary into a game. Younger children can do this with pictures and words, setting the stage for reading and vocabulary usage.

 

In the Era of Computers, Who Needs to Spell?

J. Richard Gentry, an expert on spelling education, explains why spelling is so important even in the age of computers and software that automatically checks our spelling. If you ask a reading specialist what children need in order to read successfully, his or her answer would be knowledge of the alphabet and phonemic awareness (the ability to identify that certain letters correspond to certain sounds). In other words, kindergarten and first grade spelling! Obviously, teaching spelling is only a small part of literacy instruction. However, in past years, spelling instruction has fallen out of favor.

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net. Visit her on the web at rifkaschonfeldsos.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Literacy Illuminated (Conclusion”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility.
US Secy of State Kerry Says ‘Demanding Iran Capitulate is Not a Plan’
Latest Sections Stories
Yarden Merlot

Bottles of wine accompany the Pesach storytelling – each glass of wine represents the four expressions used by G-d in describing the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt.

Schonfeld-logo1

There is a point that many parenting books miss: children do more for us than we do for them.

Brigitte was a nine-year-old girl when Islamic militants launched an assault on a Lebanese military base and destroyed her home.

The husband needs to make some changes!

Purim is a fantastic time for fantasies, so I hope you won’t mind my fantasizing about how easy life would be if kids would prefer healthy cuisine over sweets. Imagine waking up to the call of “Mommy, when will my oatmeal be ready?”… As you rush to ladle out the hot unsweetened cereal, you rub […]

‘Double Gold’ awarded to 2012 Yarden Heights wine & 2011 Yarden Merlot Kela Single Vineyard.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.

Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.

The lessons conform to the sensitivities and needs of the Orthodox community…

The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.

It was only in the reign of George III (1760-1820) that Jews became socially acceptable in Britain, and Nathan became music master to Princess Charlotte and musical librarian to King George IV.

More Articles from Rifka Schonfeld
Schonfeld-logo1

There is a point that many parenting books miss: children do more for us than we do for them.

Schonfeld-logo1

Tutor. Counselor. The doctor too,
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with you.

Pioneering authors Peg Dawson and Richard Guare, in their book Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, outline the ways that we employ executive skills regularly.

Because I get phone calls about this all the time, I have put together a quick “cheat sheet” with milestones for reading, writing, and math from first grade through high school.

The reason behind this is that when we ask our brains and bodies to make drastic changes, our fight or flight response kicks in and we become paralyzed.

Why is there such a steep learning curve for teachers? And what can we, as educators and community activists, do better in the educational system and keep first-year teachers in the job?

With so many new cases of ADHD reported each year, it is important to help children learn how to sit still.

While encouraging your child to take responsibility for bed-wetting (like asking him to change the sheets), remember that it is important not to get angry or make him feel guilty.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/literacy-illuminated-conclusion/2012/01/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: