For a long time now I have been reading about vocabulary development. After teaching English Language and English Literature for over a decade and a half (including child language acquisition), I came to the stark realisation that I didn’t know enough about how children not only learnt to read, but went on to read to learn.
Vocabulary – a vital strand of reading and understanding – well, that was a problem, but I simply didn’t recognise it. In my classrooms, like most others, it was hidden in plain sight.
Over the last two years, since the new curriculum has crashed headlong into our schools, I have seen in classrooms the issues posed by increased reading comprehension demands, at primary and secondary school. I have been reading and researching, in making my book, ‘Closing the Vocabulary Gap‘, and I thought it would be useful to share that reading and offer really valuable links:
- ‘The Reading Mind’, by Dan Willingham. This is a general book on the science of reading, but it puts vocabulary in context as an important strand in the reading process.
- ‘Reading at the Speed of Sight’, by Mark Seidenberg. This is a broad-ranging synthesis of the science of reading.
- ‘Exploring Vocabulary’, by Dee Gardner. This is a readable primer on the research evidence that relates to vocabulary.
- ‘Understanding & Teaching Reading Comprehension’, by Oakhill et al. This is a highly readable insight into reading comprehension (including the role of vocabulary).
- ‘Reading in a Second Language’, by William Grabe. This is a comprehensive research summary of everything you needed to know about reading in a second language (not EAL – but MFL).
- ‘Don’t Call it Literacy’, by Geoff Barton. This hugely popular book on literacy gives an accessible introduction into broaching literacy, reading, and more in schools.
- ‘Bringing Words to Life’ and ‘Creating Robust Vocabulary‘ by Beck et al. For many, ‘Bringing Words to Life’ is the seminal book for teachers on vocabulary development.
- ‘Reading Reconsidered’, by Doug Lemov et al. This popular US read scrutinizes the evidence on reading, but with lots of practical strategies to enact in the classroom.
- ‘Adolescent Literacy in the Academic Disciplines’, by Shanahan & Jetton. This book is great to get a broad understanding of ‘disciplinary literacy‘.
- ‘Literacy in the Disciplines’, Wolsey & Lapp. Once more, this book gives an emphasis on ‘disciplinary literacy‘, with some practical strategies for the classroom.
- ‘Academic Vocabulary in Middle & High School’, by Ogle et al. Another readable book with an emphasis on ‘disciplinary literacy’.
Online articles (FREE) and extended writing:
- The Magic of Words. This American Educator article by Susan B. Neuman and Tanya S. Wright, is a readable synthesis of vocabulary development.
- Promoting Vocabulary Development: Components of Effective Vocabulary Instruction. This Texas Reading Initiative guide is a brilliantly helpful guide to vocabulary instruction.
- A Wealth of Words. This CJ article, by E. D. Hirsch, outlines the importance of vocabulary in correlating with school success and social mobility.
- What Reading Does for the Mind. This article by Anne E. Cunningham and Keith Stanovich is a short reading on the transformative power of reading.
- What reading teachers say about vocabulary instruction: Voices from the classroom. This excellent research article from Jennifer I. Berne and Camille L.Z. Blachowicz summarises some really important insights into vocabulary teaching – including the real issues and barriers to good practice.
- Reading comprehension and vocabulary: what’s the connection? This online article from Read Oxford is a long read packed full of research on the role of vocabulary in reading comprehension.
- Improving Literacy in KS2 – Education Endowment Foundation Guidance Report. This Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) report is a concise, clear synthesis on literacy, with a helpful distillation of research evidence.
- Kelly Ashley is a primary English specialist whose blog sequence on ‘word power‘ is excellent and offers some robust evidence and great teaching ideas.
- Anne’s Angle – Reflections on learning. Australian teacher, Anne van der Graff has written a series of blogs on vocabulary development.
- Tom Needham explores some interesting strategies on explicit vocabulary teaching in a series of blogs – HERE.
- Marcus Jones, a much valued colleague (& voracious free food eater) from Huntington Research School, has written a range of blogs on vocabulary HERE.
- Primary school teacher Mr P Phillips‘ ‘verbivore‘ blog offers great vocabulary insights and a lovely batch of free resources.
- Secondary English Head of Faculty Kate McCabe has written a comprehensive blog ‘Towards a Vocabulary Rich KS3‘.
- Bedrock Learning hosts a blog on their website with lots of useful guest posts HERE.
- Helen Ralston has written a really thorough blog on her approach to vocabulary teaching HERE.
- David Didau has written an excellent blog on ‘building vocabulary’ HERE.
- @PositiveTeacha has written a great blog on their school approach to teaching vocabulary – ‘Vocabulary: How we Undulate’.
- Jen Willis has written a really accessible blog on how to undertake explicit vocabulary instruction HERE.
- Esteemed edu-writer, Andy Tharby, has written a typically brilliant blog, entitled ‘A Masterplan for Vocabulary in the English Curriculum that is hugely useful.
- Vocabulary Ninja offers a wealth of very popular vocabulary resources in his dojo HERE.
- Doug Lemov‘s ‘Teach Like A Champion‘ website is a tour de force and vocabulary blogs like ‘Active Practice: The Key to Vocabulary‘ prove an essential read.
People to follow on Twitter:
There are a wealth of experts, commentators and researchers on vocabulary, reading, language development and literacy on Twitter to follow that aren’t mentioned above. Just a sample would include: Kate Nation, Emma James, Stephen Parsons, Tim Shanahan, Jessie Ricketts, Megan Dixon, Laura Shapiro, Bob Cox, Rob Smith, Teresa Cremin, Sarah McGeown, Geraldine Carter, Anne Castles, Tom Martell, Dianne Murphy, Pie Corbett, Pamela Snow, Simon Smith, Kathy Rastle, Barbara Bleiman, Aidan Severs, Martin Galway, Victoria Murphy, and many, many more.