The video I selected was taken during a read aloud in a first grade classroom. The description of the video indicates that the read aloud was intended to be a vocabulary lesson. I chose this video because I am also a first grade teacher, and frequently use read alouds to teach a variety of subjects. While generally I found that this teacher had effectively planned her read aloud to teach vocabulary as she intended, I did find areas of her instruction that I believe could be improved.
First, the teacher did not clearly state the objectives of the lesson. While I think that sometimes when using a read aloud for a lesson it is best to not explicitly tell students the objective before beginning, I think for vocabulary instruction students could have benefitted from understanding the learning goal. According to Dean et al. (2012), teachers should clearly communicate the lessons objectives, and connect these objectives to future and previous student learning. The teacher shown in this video failed to follow this recommendation from Dean et al. In the future, I would suggest that the teacher explicitly tell students that they will be studying the vocabulary in this book and connect the learning to a previous lesson on vocabulary, or to a future activity that will reinforce this learning.
Another strategy that I felt the teacher could improve upon in order to enhance the lesson was the use of nonlinguistic representations. While the story itself had pictures that the students could see, I think a vocabulary lesson would been more meaningful if the students were asked to create picture to represent the meaning of the words discussed during the lesson. Dean et al. (2012) states that incorporating opportunities for students to create pictures “provides opportunities for students to represent their learning in a personalized manner” (p. 71). Next time, perhaps by including an opportunity for students to draw a representation of the vocabulary words would lead to increased retention of the words’ meanings.
While the strategies described above could use improvement in future lessons, there were many strategies that the teacher used effectively. One strategy I felt she used well was questioning. The teacher provided opportunities for students to answer open-analytical questions, rather than only asking closed questions. When students could not accurately state the meaning of the vocabulary word she also used effective cues to lead them to discover the correct meaning. Effective cues and questions are recommended by Dean et al. (2012) because they help students to access their prior learning which helps them learn the new material.
Next, while this is not a strategy we have read about in Dean et al., the teacher also used informal assessments effectively. By having students turn and talk with a partner about the vocabulary word, the teacher not only increased student engagement but also provided herself with an opportunity to assess student understanding by listening to student discussions.
Overall, this teacher made effective use of a short read aloud by targeting vocabulary. By stating the objective for students and by including an opportunity for students to draw nonlinguistic representations of their new vocabulary, the lesson could be further enhanced to benefit student learning.
Dean, C. B., Hubble, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.