I'm trying to analyze what you've drafted and what we need. I'm falling back on outlining as a way to analyze what we're saying and trying to say.
Vocab sets destiny:
- Who holds the key? Teachers! (Raises distracting questions of role of parents who empirically, hold the key. The real question is whether schools can give kids a second chance)
- Poor kids have much worse vocabularies ..
- “A person’s vocabulary level was the best single measure for predicting occupational success in every area. Furthermore, vocabulary is not innate, and can be acquired by everybody.”
School learning pattern of weekly word list...Need a transition from former section on significance of vocabulary
I love the emphasis on methodology in writing and technique. I'm embracing it. I'm also totally on board with the idea this white paper merits our best efforts since it sets the tone of all of our marketing. I think we should start all over and again (We'll probably do this several times) and I'd start by building several paragraph blocks first and then organize them with an outline:
In terms of metaphors and approaches. I'm cooling on the "vocabulary is destiny" since I'm warming on "Superpower or kryptonite" and I feare that we risk using too many metaphors.
The “vocab is destiny” is an over-the-top statement which sometimes worries me. Would a “missing link” metaphor be better (ie missing link between phonics and reading comprehension?)
What is done in school's today:
1. weekly word lists tied to studies. Linking them to studies is good. But in the ongoing battle to do things in adequate depth versus to cover all the materials, the collateral damage is retention in general and vocabulary in particular.
2. de-emphasis of the weekly word list since it's been shown, in some studies, to not work. This has led to reliance on two ideas, both sadly, bebunked myths:
- "If they read enough, they'll pick up the vocabulary that they need"
- Context clues, latin & greek word roots, and the concepts of figurative language constitute an adequate foundation of a vocabulary-building program.
Also, the superior educational value of words in context over words learned by definitions has erroneously led to vilifcation of the idea of word lists as a construct.
Ironically, teachers are reluctant to give up on the weekly word list. Our interviews indicate that they cling to this for several reasons, some more valid than others:
- Parents expect weekly word lists. They know, they like to help with it, it's popular and simple.
- They have seen it work and as an academic construct, it has withstood the test of time. It is a foundational concept which, despite some shifts, feels too powerful and useful to throw out.
It's this second concept which is dead on. Direct vocabulary instruction, built around an word lists, is a rock solid educational concepts. It should be tweeked and refined but not trashed....
What works? Direct instruction works if:
- instruction is adequately spaced to hit long term memory
- the word is touched 12-14 times
- the touches are multimodal enough: hear, say, read, play with, phonically analysed, morphologically worked, word relationships worked.
- the right volume of vocab words
- the right strategic vocabulary is worked
A Vocabulary Building Solution
- overlay a 4 week cycle of retention-building over the weekly cycle of introduction
- deploy tools that enable these two structures and multiple multimodal context-rich touches
- make tough decisions on what vocabulary is strategic. Cut back to 8-14 words per week (depending on grade and students). Less is more (less volume leads to much more retention).
- emphasize integration of vocabulary lists with class studies...
- word lists can be used in games that emphasize the use of words in context, the sounds of the words, the syllables in the words, word relationships...
How VSC relates to what works?