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Vocabulary Their Way

Vocabulary Their Way

Word Study with Middle and Secondary Students

Shane Templeton, Donald Bear, Francine Johnston, Marcia Invernizzi

Aug 2009, Paperback with CD-ROM, 288 pages
ISBN13: 9780131555358
ISBN10: 0131555359
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The author team that developed the research-rooted word study phenomenon Words Their Way turn their attention to the same kind of hands on, research based approach to developing vocabulary with students in intermediate, middle, and secondary grades. The text offers research-tested ideas for helping students use word patterns to puzzle out meaning to content area vocabulary. It also provides much needed assessment information to help teachers gauge where to begin instruction, as well as hands on opportunities for teachers to keep student attention and interest as they build vocabulary.

Vocabulary Their Way: Word Study, Grades 4-12

Table of Contents

Part I: Foundations of Learning and Teaching Vocabulary

Chapter 1 — The Nature of Vocabulary Development and Instruction

What the research says

Early intermediate

Middle intermediate

Late Intermediate

Synchrony of development

Chapter 2 — The Meaning and Structure of Words

How Words Work: Meanings and Feelings

How Words Are Written: Spelling Makes Sense!

Chapter 3 — Where Words Come from and Where They’re Going


Dynamics of construction of new vocabulary

Part II: Instruction and Assessment

Chapter 4 —Essential Vocabulary Strategies and Activities

Guidelines for Teaching Core Academic and Content-Specific Academic Vocabulary

Tools for Teaching

Word Sorts and Concept Sorts

The Dictionary


Guidelines for Selecting Which Words to Teach Directly

Guidelines for Selecting Core Academic Vocabulary

Guidelines for Selecting Content-Specific Academic Vocabulary

Generative Strategies

Word Formation with Base Words and Affixes

Strategy for Decoding Longer Words

Principles of Teaching Morphology: Base Words and Affixes

Word Sort Activities to Support Word Formation with Base Words and Affixes

Word Formation with Greek/Latin Foots and Affixes

Principles of Teaching Morphology: Greek/Latin Roots and Affixes

Word Sort Activities to Support Word Formation with Greek/Latin Roots and Affixes

Word-Specific Strategies

Concept Sorts


Vocabulary Cards

List, Group, and Label

Exploring Antonyms and Synonyms


Vocabulary Notebooks

Graphic Organizers


Online Resources about Words

Looking Ahead

Chapter 5-Teaching Core Academic Vocabulary in English/Language Arts

Concrete sorting

Using word study for character analysis

Sorting Adjectives

Concrete ways to understand authors word choice

Word study to teach poetry

Iambic pentameter

Syllable stress

Contrasts of poetry–word choice (alliteration/contrast is major literary technique which lends itself right into word choice)

Chapter 6— Teaching Content-Specific Academic Vocabulary


Guidelines for Content Area Vocabulary InstructionHistory




Chapter 7— Vocabulary Instruction with English Language Learners

The Context for Instruction

Wide Reading

Purposeful Writing

Reading to your EL Students

Ongoing Word Study Activities

Determining English Learners’ Level of English Proficiency

Word-Specific Challenges for English Learners

Generative Instruction

Compound Words

Driving Words from Common Base Words


Chapter 8 - Assessment and Organization


Grouping for instruction

Use checklist–qualitative

Early intermediate

Middle intermediate

Late Intermediate

Synchrony of development

Part III: Appendix

Additional Word Sorts

Sample Lessons

Spelling-to-Sound Correspondences

Most productive spelling rules

Syllable Patterns and Rules



Content Area Standards and Vocabulary

  • An assessment and organization chapter that provides needed information on where to begin instruction.
  • Chapters on content area specific vocabulary development.
  • A chapter on helping English learners develop academic and content area vocabulary.
  • Hands on activities for building vocabulary.
  • Sample middle and secondary lessons.
  • Vocabulary building games

Shane Templeton is Foundation Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he is Program Coordinator for Literacy Studies. A former elementary and secondary teacher, his research focuses on the development of orthographic knowledge. He has written several books on the teaching and learning of reading and language arts and is a member of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary. He is author of the "Spelling Logics" column in Voices from the Middle, the middle school journal of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Francine Johnston is a former first grade teacher and reading specialist who learned about word study during her graduate work at the University of Virginia. She is now an associate professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she teaches courses in reading, language arts, and children's literature. Francine frequently works with regional school systems as a consultant and researcher. Her research interests include current spelling practices and materials as well as the relationship between spelling and reading achievement.

Donald R. Bear is director of the E. L. Cord Foundation Center for Learning and Literacy where he and preservice, Master’s and doctoral students teach and assess children who struggle to learn to read and write. Donald is a professor in the Department of Educational Specialties in the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno. Donald has been a classroom teacher and he researches and writes about literacy development and instruction. He is an author of numerous articles, book chapters, and books, including Words Their Way, Words Their Way with English Learners, and Vocabulary Their Way.

Marcia Invernizzi is a professor of reading education at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Marcia is also the director of the McGuffey Reading Center, where she teaches the clinical practica in reading diagnosis and remedial reading. Formerly an English and reading teacher, she works with Book Buddies, Virginia's Early Intervention Reading Initiative (EIRI), and Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS).

Expert Reviews

I love this book. Write some more!

Joseph W. Guenther, University of Wisconsin, Platteville

I like the overall presentation of the text. Given the emphasis on reading in middle and high school, I would think it would have a wide audience. I would consider this text as a supplemental or suggested text as it does enhance the content of the course I teach.

Nancy Williams, University of South Florida

This book contains useful information and offers helpful resources for those who would like further information. The chapters contain useful graphics and examples, and provide the reader with a solid background on words, word origins and the development of our vocabulary knowledge. The book also includes step-by-step strategies for sharing this knowledge with students.

Margot Kinberg, National University

Each strategy is described in detail, weaving research with examples from classrooms. I believe teachers can easily find new ideas for teaching content vocabulary, and understand when each strategy is most effective. I am especially impressed with the examples.

Cathy Blanchfield, California State University Fresno

The text is well organized, theoretically sound, and the strategies are practical and effective. Excellent strategies for addressing the word-specific challenges for English learners. Excellent ideas and activities.

Jackie Glasgow, Ohio University

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