National Writing Project

National Reading Initiative Project

NRI Advancing Literacy: Academic Vocabulary Development

In 2008 five writing project sites with an interest in academic vocabulary development and its impact on reading and writing participated in a summer institute to study, refine, and expand their knowledge and site capacity for professional development in this area.

Beginning with a guided inquiry into Word Generation , a cross-content academic vocabulary development program being offered by the Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP), the sites worked together to integrate their new knowledge and understanding of academic vocabulary development into professional development programs in reading and writing instruction.

These sites are now developing programs for continuing their inquiry into academic vocabulary development.

Five Participating Sites

San Joaquin Valley Writing Project, California

The San Joaquin Valley Writing Project (SJVWP) team is exploring the essential question of whether multiple exposures to tier-two words will increase not just the students' receptive knowledge of the words, but their productive use of the words in students' writing. While exploring the question in a class and student case study, the SJVWP team members are also sharing current research and promising practices with interested teachers in a study group during the 2008–2009 school year, and designing an institute for the summer of 2009.

Delaware Writing Project, Delaware

Delaware Writing Project is developing resources and materials and is asking teacher-consultants to study what works and what doesn't in academic vocabulary instruction in their own classrooms. Teacher-consultants are producing workshops about promising cross-curricular practices in academic vocabulary instruction that improve comprehension and/or writing. This is accomplished through the development of two teacher inquiry communities, one with an elementary focus and one with a high school focus. Both inquiry communities are reading relevant literature and conducting classroom action-research projects.

Florida State University Writing Project, Florida

Florida State University Writing Project's (FSUWP) plan, Vocabulary Matters, develops the knowledge and practices of FSUWP teacher-consultants in the area of academic vocabulary. This positions them as local experts, able to provide high-quality professional development in academic vocabulary for local teachers. By integrating the study of vocabulary development into several ongoing pieces of work (including their FSUWP Writing Summit, their Teachers Action Research Course, and their work with teachers in a partnership middle school), FSUWP is educating a broad range of teacher-consultants in vocabulary development and instruction.

Hawai'i Writing Project, Hawai'i

Hawai'i Writing Project (HWP) is holding a Vocabulary Advanced Institute for HWP teacher-consultants and supporting follow-up opportunities for teachers. The advanced institute aims to help teacher-consultants develop a rich understanding of the connections between reading and writing through learning and using vocabulary in receptive and expressive modes and focuses on how to address the unique academic language needs of students in Hawai'i. This continuity offering is followed by the opportunity for participants to present at local conferences, attend a professional writing retreat, or join a leadership team to create school-based professional development programming for teachers.

Chicago Area Writing Project, Illinois

Chicago Area Writing Project (CAWP) is forming a research-based inquiry group for teacher-consultants. The inquiry group investigates issues in the teaching, learning, and assessment of vocabulary and the relationship between vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing. The group meets monthly to discuss current vocabulary research and instructional methods. The inquiry consists of three sections: first, identifying issues and topics and building a framework for instructional interventions in different student populations, grade levels and content areas; second, testing instructional methods and developing assessments in classrooms; and third, sharing findings in a series of presentations to CAWP members.


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