Visuals and Vocabulary

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Not knowing the meaning of a word while reading is a common occurrence in school particularly when the students are at the stage when they are "reading-to-learn" as opposed to "learning-to-read." As mentioned in the previous blog post, it is within this “reading to learn” stage that Tier 2 vocabulary becomes prominent. Tier 2 vocabulary’s significance lies in its foundational framework for reading comprehension. Research shows that looking up the word in a dictionary alone is not enough for the student to grasp an in depth understanding of the word (Wise, Sevcik, Morris, Lovett, & Wolf, 2007). An in depth understanding would give the students the tools to manipulate and use the word in a novel way such as in conversation or in writing.

Marzano (2009) provided a list of methods that targeted methods to provide a deeper understanding of novel vocabulary words to increase both receptive and expressive language skills. One of the most important methods involved having “students construct a picture, pictograph or symbolic representation of the word.” InferCabulary Pro not only emphasizes this particular aspect of vocabulary but takes it to another level by providing contexts associated with the pictures through captions and has interactive games that reinforce a word’s meaning.

As a speech-language pathologist who often incorporates vocabulary goals into her sessions, visuals are an important component of vocabulary learning particularly for students with language disorders. Visuals take away the language component that would normally be associated with a word and its definition. InferCabulary Pro provides a visually exciting means of accessing and inferring meaning of words commonly found in the curriculum.

Marzano, R. J. (2009). The art and science of teaching: Six steps to better vocabulary instruction. Educational leadership67(1), 83-84.

Wise, J. C., Sevcik, R. A., Morris, R. D., Lovett, M. W., & Wolf, M. (2007). The relationship among receptive and expressive vocabulary, listening comprehension, pre-reading skills, word identification skills, and reading comprehension by children with reading disabilities. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research50(4), 1093-1109.


The Tiers of Vocabulary

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With the implementation of common core in the public schools, the emphasis on vocabulary and its instruction in relation to the academic curriculum has been at the forefront of research. Teaching vocabulary involves a multidimensional approach that can include visuals, multiple exposures in various contexts or relation to prior knowledge. Beyond this instruction, knowing which types of words to teach can positively impact vocabulary acquisition for our students (S. Mosburg-Michael, 2011).

Below are the three tiers of vocabulary:

Tier 1 vocabulary are words (nouns, adjectives, verbs) found in early literacy that occur frequently in everyday conversation. These words are simple because they are commonly heard making them easy to acquire and typically do not have more than one meaning.

Tier 2 vocabulary are words that require a higher level of thinking and understanding. They are found in adult conversations and literature. This literature aspect is an important one to consider in relation to Tier 2 vocabulary because typically when these words begin to appear in the curriculum, the children are at an age in which they are “reading to learn” as opposed to “learning to read.” In other words, this level of vocabulary is important for reading comprehension, contains multiple meanings and is indicative of a student’s progress in school (Hutton, 2008).

Tier 3 vocabulary words can be described as words that do not occur as frequently and are highly specific to the context. Examples of these words include medical, economy or monarchy. These words tend to be found in a particular subject as opposed to within varying contexts. This specificity makes it more challenging to acquire.

InferCabulary Pro is an interactive and engaging edtech tool that focuses on teaching Tier 1 and Tier 2 vocabulary that are essential to access the academic curriculum and ensure that our students or children can comprehend what they’ve read or heard in class to learn the plethora of new information introduced to them.

Hutton, T. Three Tiers of Vocabulary and Education [PDF document]. Retrieved from Super Duper Online Web site: https://www.superduperinc.com/handouts/pdf/182_VocabularyTiers.pdf

Mosburg-Michael, S. (2011) Supporting Vocabulary and Language Development Through Collaboration with Classroom Teachers [PowerPoint Slides]. Retrieved from: https://hollistonspeech.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/asha-collaboration-2011-pptx.pdf

Post by Guest Blogger - Kellie Ileto, M.A., SLP works as a speech language pathologist in Montgomery County Public Schools with children who are deaf/hard of hearing. She recently graduated from George Washington University where she worked in a Cochlear Implant Research Lab and completed her Masters thesis focusing on pragmatic language in children with autism.


Vocabulary Development and Why Infercabulary Works

parent reading

Vocabulary development is most widely known to occur through reading and oral language. Parents are frequently advised to read to their children and to talk to their children. This relates specifically to two common processes called fast mapping and extended mapping.

Fast mapping is a rapid process by which children hear a word and connect it with a general understanding of the concept (Carey & Bartlett, 1978). This often occurs when talking to a child about their immediate environment and labeling the objects in this environment. Fast mapping however is limited to these specific contexts or environments.

Multiple exposures to the word in varying contexts are needed to provide an increased depth and understanding of the vocabulary world. This process of refining one’s understanding of a vocabulary word is called extending mapping. Overall, fast mapping contributes to the variety of vocabulary words an individual learns while extended mapping contributes to the depth and understanding of those words acquired.

An important aspect that helps with these mapping processes is context clues. Context clues are hints that allow a person to infer what the meaning of an unknown word may be. For example: Handle this glass vase carefully because it is fragile. Context clues could include “glass” and “carefully.” These context clues however are language based which can be difficult for our students who already struggle with speech and language skills. Therefore, InferCabulary Pro bases its context clues and inferencing on visual input rather than language. By allowing kids to infer meaning based on visual examples and a variety of contexts the language aspect is no longer a hindrance to our students learning new vocabulary.

Post by Guest Blogger - Kellie Ileto, M.A., SLP works as a speech language pathologist in Montgomery County Public Schools with children who are deaf/hard of hearing. She recently graduated from George Washington University where she worked in a Cochlear Implant Research Lab and completed her Masters thesis focusing on pragmatic language in children with autism.