Rationale and Question
The Common Core standards point out the need to target specific instruction in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary words our students are required to know and understand. In our educational system’s present state the vocabulary words required to comprehend more content-rich nonfiction material is believed to be woefully behind. Sadly free reading does not drive students to acquire the Tier 3 and even many Tier 2 words. Reading must be more directed, according to the new standards, to promote acquisition of this more advanced vocabulary. This expanded vocabulary is crucial to the success of our students in the workforce as well as higher education.
Considering the increased strain on our teachers to teach this level of vocabulary, I propose research into this area. The question I ask is how can digital tools be incorporated effectively in the classroom to instruct Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary words?
Dalton and Grisham (2011) have answered in this article some of the pressing questions that arise when one is looking for direction in using technology in the classroom to teach vocabulary. Although this is not a definitive article it certainly is a start and opens the door to some of the premier websites and tools that can be used. A very fruitful and essential work in this area of study.
The article written by Hakuta, K., & Council of the Great City, S. (2011) is composed of information on one web-based vocabulary tool. WordSift is a fun and effective tool to incorporate a number of ways within the classroom. The writers of this article provide great detail on this internet resources many uses in the classroom. WordSift is easy to use and requires copying any text and pasting into a dialogue box. Hitting ‘Sift’ removes all of the common words and leaves more complex words arranged randomly with high frequency words in large bold print. This is a powerful tool for vocabulary instruction and the authors of this article make sure this is clear.
Vocabulary instruction is essential to the increased literacy of our students, especially when the Common Core standards appear to be raising the bar for performance. Kilickaya and Kraka (2011) discuss the need for increased vocabulary instruction and the use of technology to assist in satisfying this need. As one reads the article some research elements surface such as a surveying of 80 language teachers who are aware of and even use older technology (Computers and CD ROM tools). These instructor were not aware of or simply did not incorporate new, web-based or APP-based tools to assist in teaching vocabulary. A good article about using technology in its various forms to support language instruction.
McAllister, Cutcher, & UTC (2011) is a culminating article of research done by graduate students at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Considering this article is a collection of research done by M.Ed. students the methods used are of importance. It showcases various educational research efforts one of which is of particular interest due to the attention given to technology used in vocabulary instruction.
The article by Narkon, (2011) talks about the use of electronic word-walls (EWW) to assist with vocabulary instruction for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other exceptional students. Although word-walls have been commonplace in our classrooms for sometime, the emergence of EWWs to instruct our exceptional students is fairly new. The author explains what an EWW is how to set one up and use it in the classroom followed with good ideas on differentiation and group work as well.
Teaching vocabulary for English as First Language (EFL) students has always been challenging. Tabatabaei & Goojani, (2012) point out the efficacy of using texting for teaching vocabulary in their article based on EFL instruction conducted with Iran students. Since there is data that shows this is viable in the EFL arena vocabulary teacher may want to take notice of methods used with this everyday technology to accomplish the instruction of more complex vocabulary. This is a very interesting article on an innovative use for common technology.
The methods of collection I would like to use for this research project is to first, utilize the students in the third through eighth grade classes at Tatitlek Community School. Through my time in this school I recognize that digital tools have not been used in the past to teach vocabulary. Second, I want to employ various digital tools in the classroom for the purpose of teaching vocabulary for two weeks and then switch back to legacy methods on the third week. For all three weeks I would use standard assessment strategies to measure acquisition of vocabulary. Finally, I will use an opinion questionnaire based on Likert Scaling (Robertson, 2012) and good old fashion observation to quantify student reactions to the digital tools being employed. Do to the brevity and scope of this research effort I will not attempt to quantify an increase in vocabulary in these students. What I am looking for is at least on par performance during the two digital weeks with little to no loss of aptitude when compared to other weeks of school time. I am especially interested in the favorable opinion and particularly spontaneous use of the digital tools by students to increase their own vocabulary learning. I feel the Likert Scaling method of questionnaire and observation will suffice in this matter.
Dalton, B., & Grisham, D. L. (2011). eVoc Strategies: 10 Ways to Use Technology to Build Vocabulary. Reading Teacher, 64(5), 306-317.
Hakuta, K., & Council of the Great City, S. (2011). “WordSift”: Supporting Instruction and Learning through Technology in San Francisco. The Senior Urban Education Research Fellowship Series. Volume IV. Council Of The Great City Schools.
Kilickaya, F., & Krajka, J. (2010). Teachers’ Technology Use in Vocabulary Teaching. retrieved from ERIC on September 26, 2013.
McAllister, D. A., Cutcher, C. L., & University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC), (2011). Culminating Experience Action Research Projects, Volume 17, Fall 2010, retrieved from ERIC on September 26, 2013.
Narkon, D. S. (2011). E-Word Wall. Teaching Exceptional Children, 43(4), 38-45.
Robertson, J. (2012). Likert-type Scales, Statistical Methods, and Effect Sizes. Communications of the ACM, 55(5), 6-7. doi:10.1145/2160718.2160721
Tabatabaei, O., & Goojani, A. (2012). The Impact of Text-Messaging on Vocabulary Learning of Iranian EFL Learners. Cross-Cultural Communication, 8(2), 47-55.doi:10.3968/j.ccc.1923670020120802.1689