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Title:                                                      Passage to Liberty
Primary Subject Area/Grade Level:   Language Arts and Social Studies (5th - 8th Grade)
Author:                                                   Kirsten Baesler and Donna Nestoss


As children approach the middle grades and become more proficient in decoding and recognizing known words, vocabulary acquisition focuses more on meaning than recognition (Chall 1987). Direct instruction is an important aspect of vocabulary acquisition, and relates to reading comprehension in that children integrate new words with their prior knowledge.

An important component of vocabulary development is social interactions and interventions in the classroom. Conversations (Peterson & Eeds, 1990) about shared readings of literature can include rich discussions about new words and their meanings. Students can find it motivating to work collaboratively to define new words using creative means, such as context clues or drama, and traditional methods, such as a dictionary or other media sources.

Vocabulary is essential to the understanding of the written and spoken word. Increasing students’ vocabulary will lead to an increased understanding in all subject areas. The BPS MAP Assessment results for Grade Six indicate word meaning is an area falling below the average mean RIT.

Chall, J. (1987). Two vocabularies for reading: Recognition and meaning. In M.G. McKeown, & M.E. Curtis (Eds). The nature of vocabulary acquisition (pp. 7-17). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Peterson, R., & Eeds, M. (1990). Grand conversations: Literature groups in action. New York: Scholastic.


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Updated: June 24, 2004 9:44 AM
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