INSTRUCTIONS for Workshop Leaders

1 > Goals

  • To develop skills in using book reading to foster children's vocabulary.
  • To increase teachers' awareness of how to introduce new vocabulary within the context of real-life experiences.

2 > In Advance

  • Have a flip chart and marker available.
  • Distribute the handout (pages 14-15) one week before the workshop.
  • Ask each teacher to bring a favorite story, picture book, or nonfiction book to the workshop and be prepared to demonstrate how she uses the book to foster children's word learning.

3 > Begin the Workshop

Group teachers by the type of book they brought to the workshop. After teachers have formed their group, ask them to select a leader and a recorder. Then they will brainstorm ways of using the books to foster children's word learning. When they are finished, each group will chose one member to report back to the group, demonstrating a particular technique. (Make sure they have copies of the handout to consult about specific techniques.)

After each group demonstrates a specific technique, the others will regroup and take turns practicing it. For example, one person might demonstrate using illustrations without stopping the flow of reading a narrative. Teachers can demonstrate different techniques for teaching new words in expository texts and illustrated storybooks. Then, in small groups, others would practice these techniques.

4 > Continue the Workshop

Discuss various techniques such as how you decide which word in the text is important and should be highlighted by pointing at illustrations or how you give an explanation of the word's meaning.

You might also discuss ways of using the important word, or a word new to the children, within the context of play and other classroom activities. For example, ask teachers how they would use the word quarrel, so salient in Leo Lionni's It's Mine!, during the course of a day.

Take a few minutes to focus on how teachers might introduce new vocabulary within the context of real-life situations. One teacher reading Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter pointed to the picture of Peter caught in the net while the birds "implored him to exert himself." Later during the day, when a child's coat zipper got stuck, the teacher said to the child, after starting the zipper, "I implore you, exert yourself, pull the zipper a little harder." To another child struggling with hanging up a smock she said, "Exert yourself, hold the smock like this."

Ask teachers to give other examples of how they would introduce new vocabulary within the context of children's real-life experiences.

5 > Conclude the Workshop

Conclude the workshop by asking teachers to try at least two story-reading techniques that are new to them to introduce new words to children. Ask them to record any evidence of children using the new words during the coming week.