Home › Forums › Linguistics for Teachers of Emergent Bilinguals Course Forum › Session 3 Developing Oral Language – Background Knowledge & Vocabulary – Unit Planning › Developing Oral Language – Unit Planning
Tagged: Edison Burgos
March 31, 2021 at 3:14 pm #1837
This weeks’ articles discuss the roles of phonological and morphological awareness, background knowledge and vocabulary in oral language development and reading comprehension. At both the elementary level and secondary level, teachers mostly work with published curricula that they are required to follow, and if not, then teaching to the advanced reading skills is still the requirement. As a result, not enough time is spent at the beginning of a unit building understanding of the Big Picture concepts.
Given the information in the articles, how do you believe you might be able to adapt your units to make room for developing phonological and/or morphological awareness and vocabulary to build and activate background knowledge?
June 8, 2021 at 4:18 pm #1958Savannah McEntireParticipant
Phonological and morphological awareness as they pertain to oral language development also play a huge role in preparing students for decoding in reading, while typically we think of background knowledge and vocabulary as preparing students for comprehension. The two go hand in hand because without knowledge of vocabulary and background information, students will struggle to use meaning to help them decode tricky words. While reading in the articles and listening to the lecture, I thought about what I see a great deal in the kindergarteners in my class who are emergent bilingual learners. Many of them have developed strong decoding skills relying on the visual components of the word in isolation, but when they lack the vocabulary to make meaning from the word, this can trip them up in decoding as well as in comprehension. For example, on a recent reading assessment that I conducted, one page of the book uses the word “chimps.” Many of my emergent bilingual learners (and even some of my students who’s first language is English) want to use meaning to help decode the word, and want to say “monkeys” because that’s what they see in the picture. Meanwhile, they recognize the sounds of the word from our phonics instruction, so they know the word isn’t monkeys, but they don’t know what “chimps” are so they have trouble believing that that is correct even if they accurately sound it out. Some will even stick with the guess of “monkeys” even though they know it doesn’t look right, because it is a word that makes sense. Another example is a text where a key turning point in the plot has to do with understanding what a skunk is (when the skunk enters the house, all the other animals run away) many of my EBL students will say squirrel, instead of skunk, and because of that do not make the connection that the other animals are leaving because of his smell. Introducing those vocabulary words ahead of time and building that background knowledge would go far in increasing both the accuracy and comprehension of emergent bilingual learners on many texts such as these.
Even though those examples are from assessments, I think the same is true for many reading and writing units where there is such a heavy emphasis on discourse and deep understanding of meaning, that there leaves little time to launch a book and adequately pre-teach important vocabulary words that build background knowledge. When teaching guided reading lessons, I usually spend time on vocabulary when launching the book, but as our book launches are expected to be less than 5 minutes and include an active engagement, unfamiliar sight word introduction, decoding strategy, and thinking job, sometimes vocabulary gets pushed to the side, or is only emphasized for about 1 minute or less (barely time to introduce the word and show a picture). One way I could adapt this is by thinking bigger than each individual lesson or book, to the broader spectrum of the overall unit. Finding a block to pre-teach important content based vocabulary words that will be seen across texts could alleviate those precious few minutes during each lesson to be more of a review, while a heavier emphasis on actually teaching those words would come in an introductory lesson to the unit. As mentioned in the article The Magic of Words, that quick exposure one time before reading is not enough for the child to really acquire the new vocabulary. They might remember it for the length of the lesson to read this particular text (or not) but are unlikely to be able to apply it in the future to other texts when they come across the same word, because they haven’t had enough exposure. I think that having a vocabulary introduction lesson at the beginning of the unit, and then reviewing important vocabulary during each individual lesson prior to reading a text will create that repeated exposure over a longer period of time that allows students to really learn the words.
When it comes to phonics and phonological/morphological awareness, our day includes a phonics block in the morning where more direct instruction around sounds and blending occurs. I have also added during an intervention block in my schedule a time where I focus on phonics skills in Spanish with my Spanish speaking EBLs. I have found this to be especially beneficial as (although a few sounds are different) the skills of using sounds and blending are the same, and reading books in Spanish means that they can focus more on the phonics skills and less on the vocabulary, however that vocabulary needs to be fit in more during other parts of the day.
One question I still have is around direct instruction of morphemes such as prefixes and suffixes in the early grades. I have taught chunking as a reading strategy for decoding so that students know they can break up words into parts, and have similarly taught students to look for a word they know within an unknown word as one way to find meaning. That being said, I haven’t gone so far as to teach prefixes and suffixes directly. I wonder what the most appropriate age is to do that and if at certain grade levels it overcomplicates word learning to actually make things more confusing. I definitely understand the importance of knowing those morphemes and how they can change and derive word meaning as vocabulary becomes more complex in second grade and beyond, but is this something that we should also be teaching in K-1? The article by Keiffer and Lesaux spoke specifically to doing this in fourth and fifth grade, but I’m wondering how it translates to the lower grades, and at what level and degree it should be implemented.
June 11, 2021 at 5:17 pm #1971
You make so many important points again – and I think this is the most important thing for teachers in the younger grades to understand: Yes, the students are learning to decode. For the English proficient speakers, they will connect the word, once recognized, to its meaning. MLs will also decode the word, but not necessarily know its meaning. That is how we end up with 4th or 5th graders that can decode perfectly fine, but are not accessing comprehension of the text.
Working with a TC curriculum, which is what I believe you currently have, will require some creative time strategizing on your part: I would spend time before introducing the new book on Big Picture concepts, introduce important words and ideas with pictures, possibly videos. If you don’t have time to pre-teach words before reading, then do it while reading but show a picture and practice pronouncing the word. Keep a word bank or pictionary that students can see on a chart, and use to refer back to those words and actively make then use those words when responding to text and writing.
As much autonomous adjustments to your schedule as you can make within the confines of TC try to make; if you have to explain to an administrator what you’re doing, try and advocate by saying they need more vocabulary instruction that other students and you are scaffolding for comprehension.
During phonics instruction, try and use and CVC or CVCe words from the book with pictures, and as much as possible, integrate any sentence or word reading with themes from the book. For example, if the book is about a “skunk”, use that word in phonics to practice the “unk” sound and show a picture.
I love that you’re trying to teach them to read in Spanish! That’s amazing. Use translations of important words liberally, so they can make connections between English and Spanish: for example, “skunk” in Spanish is “zorillo” – it’s also possible that they don’t know what a “zorillo” is, so that is part of the background knowledge work.
In K and 1 we can absolutely teach closed syllable prefixes un, mis, dis, ex and show how the word changes from a base: lock unlock/ take/mistake honest/dishonest Sometimes just making them aware orally is good enough – they don’t necessarily have to read the word.
TC is a very problematic curriculum – try as much as you can to adapt the pace of the lesson and advocate for more consistent vocabulary instruction Monday-Friday.
July 21, 2021 at 5:07 pm #2134Koren StanislausParticipant
To think about the adaptation of my units to make room for developing phonological and/or morphological awareness and vocabulary to build and activate background knowledge, I separated the information from the readings into three ideas, to be able to process and organize my approach in creating lessons for vocabulary enrichment in an organic way, which would serve to support students in the acquisition and building of the meaning of vocabulary words.
The first idea I kept in mind was, how phonological awareness of spoken words are related to the sound of words, while at the same time connecting these sounds to phenome awareness, which relates to the understanding that words are made up of individual phenomes, and that these phenomes can be rearranged or substituted to create different words. The second idea for me to consider, was the notion that repeated exposure to words helps to build vocabulary knowledge within students, during read alouds. Also, pointing out words and merely giving their definitions to students is not enough to build vocabulary. The third category, morphological awareness, reveals another technique which can be used to strengthen vocabulary development, as it pertains to morphemes (prefixes, roots, and suffixes) – the breaking down of words.
Through the years as an ELA teacher, I have certainly “touched on” or have done some of the work outlined in my categories, but in a disjointed manner for several reasons. I honestly think there is a time factor too, which drives sometimes teaching – not to mention the other responsibilities for teachers in the classroom. However, after watching the video and reading the articles, I slowly began to see how the connection of phonemes, repetition, and morphemes could assist me in strengthening vocabulary acquisition in students, including ELLS, which could be accomplished with read alouds or when working with a small group. My take away from this session is, if vocabulary is seen as building blocks for comprehension, more emphasis might be placed on vocabulary development for students, regardless of subject area.
July 27, 2021 at 6:13 pm #2154
For your grade level and student population (Special Ed), I think you could integrate this in a couple of ways: 1. Say words out loud and have students match the word to a picture; 2. clap out syllables and go over any difficult spellings like Vowel Teams; 3. If the word is morphologically complex, take it apart by prefix, root/base word or suffix. For more phonological awareness, you can have students underline or copy target words as you read aloud. Finally, they should be using the words orally, reading the words from a list and in written sentences. As you go through your unit, you can keep words in a word bank to help them retrieve and review words. If you make this a regular vocabulary routine and break it up over the course of the week/unit, you can have a very effective vocabulary instructional method.
August 26, 2021 at 10:21 pm #2240Victor BarrientosParticipant
I believe in order to be able to adapt my units to make room for developing phonological and/or morphological awareness and vocabulary to build and activate background knowledge, First I think that I need to understand that there are many students including the emergency English learner as well as students with disability that they have many problems in reading comprehension . I will need to start for adjusting the curriculum that we follows in our school.Phonological and Morphological awareness are very important in learning to read, because many children who have learning disabilities (LDs) have difficulty in reading. By building and activating background knowledge I will use vocabulary in the classroom where the students will be able to know the roots, prefix, suffix of the words to be learning on that specific topic of the day.
By making room to develop phonological and morphological awareness in my unit I will start by making that the students knows that in English, although we have 26 letters in our alphabet, and that we have 44 phonemes (sounds) because some letters have more than one sound. For example, the letter ‘a’ represents one sound or phoneme in the word bat and a different phoneme in the word baby; similarly, the letter ‘c’ represents one sound in the word cup and a different sound in the word city. Additionally, some letters form a completely new sound when they are put together, such as ‘th’ in the word the or ‘ch’ in the word chat.Even though those are simple examples . I think this strategy will help students in building background knowledge about phoneme and how the combination of the letters form the sound.
Understanding that Phonological awareness includes the ability to identify and manipulate sounds in oral language, from parts of words to syllables and phrases. Phonological awareness thus refers to a wide range of skills, as a teacher of high school I will try to help my students ( ELLs, MLls) an understanding that all students needs to develop language in writing speaking to succeed in this society. Teachers need to create many strategies that help student to develop skills in language development and reading comprehension, by focusing just on the smallest units of sound in human speech.
As a high school teacher we are required to teach advance reading skills to our students , because they soon will be in college, but teacher preparation skills need to be in place too, because the success of the students in most part depend on teacher ability an preparation therefore all teachers should have knowledge about that Phonological awareness is thought to be related to children’s success in learning to read because it indicates an awareness of the internal structure of words. and that the Morphological awareness, which has been found to be related to reading achievement for older students, may offer a more comprehensive measure of linguistic sensitivity because it entails not only phonological awareness, but also other aspects of linguistic knowledge.
By creating a work bank and having students underline unfamiliar words vocabulary and reading out loud will be one of the strategies that I always be using in class this way the students learn better the sound of the word as well as the writing part of the unfamiliar words.
August 31, 2021 at 10:58 am #2260
Victor, phonological awareness in your math classroom will consist of having students (or you) read word problems aloud, then take them apart for comprehension and vocabulary. Also, students should be connecting important vocabulary to the Home Language, especially Spanish cognates. Students can actually practice translating English word problems into the Home Language, or write their own word problems using the vocabulary.
October 2, 2021 at 2:35 pm #2358Edison BurgosParticipant
Phonological and morphological awareness help to read, understand, and improve the knowledge and vocabulary of the background. Currently, I teach math in a Middle school in the Bronx. Latinex students comprise 70 % of the population, and some of them lack the academic vocabulary to excel academically at the grade level. As a result, they struggle to comprehend at their grade level math. Morphological awareness provides a powerful mean for building background knowledge and vocabulary to bridge the gap between lacks of vocabulary and increase reading understanding.
To adapt my future units of instruction and implement phonological awareness, I will implement the following: administer an assessment in reading comprehension. This assessment will help me identify the most effective vocabulary and background knowledge strategies. According to the readings assigned to session three: “Breaking Down Words to Build Meaning: Morphology, Vocabulary, and Reading Comprehension in the Urban Classroom,” suggests that breaking down words into smaller parts goes a long way. As discussed in the mini lecture, “Developing Oral language,” to know a word means: be able to implement the five parts of the word. That is, pragmatic and world knowledge, vocabulary (lexicon), syntax, morphology, and phonology help to know a word.
Breaking words to its simple parts are effective but targeting limited vocabulary within the unit enhances background knowledge in the upper elementary schools. Tier three vocabulary helps to understand content areas. One important aspect of teaching Tier three words is to know the etymology of the word. That is, The English language has been nourished by words with different origins such as Greek, French, German, Italian, and Britain. These languages contain their prefixes, suffixes and bases that help understand the meaning of a word and understand reading. Checking the meaning of the targeting vocabulary against the context (the use of the word in math) often helps to understand texts. Explicit or direct teaching of targeted words is an effective way to help my current students understand complex texts.
In the mathematics classroom and in other content areas, cognates play a significant role in learning to read in a language different from the students’ native language. Cognates allow language learners to use their new words immediately because of the similarities in their mother tongue. English language learners build their vocabulary, schema and gain confidence to add more words in their new language when they use cognates.
Briefly, reading to make sense of a math problem is crucial to understand it and find its solution. See- think – wonder activity helps to make sense and comprehend what is being asked about the problem and its solution. These adaptations of my unit will increase reading comprehension and understanding of mathematics of my students.
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