Gary Woolley (2010). A Multiple Strategy Framework Supporting Vocabulary Development

Gary Woolley (2010). A Multiple Strategy Framework Supporting Vocabulary        Development
for Students with Reading Comprehension Deficits. Australasian Journal of Special
Education, 34, pp 119-­132
 This is a must read for any teacher looking to improve reading comprehension in their classroom.  It supports the argument made in many studies that many students who struggle with reading do so because they are caught in the cycle of struggling to read, being less inclined to read and therefore missing opportunities to develop their reading through the introduction of new words.

Poor comprehenders are generally students who have significant language-learning deficits. A particular problem for students with poor comprehension is that they have difficulty learning new vocabulary because they are inclined to read less, and are unable to apply new meanings to unfamiliar words. This leads to the situation where the gap widens between them and their more successful peers, resulting in more noticeable reading difficulties in later grades. They generally have good word decoding skills but have difficulty connecting meaning to unfamiliar words in context. This is often problematic because they have particular difficulties making inferences and forming a coherent mental model of what they have read. However, effective vocabulary instruction can be achieved by the incorporation of an intervention framework that balances the teaching of word-learning strategies with strategies fostering whole story integration. This article introduces a pedagogical construct based on a modified KWL (***what I know, what I want to know & what I've learnt) framework using a combination of evidence-based visual and verbal instructional methods, in conjunction with the development of metacognitive and self-regulating strategies. The implication is that the cognitive load on working memory will be reduced and overall story comprehension will be improved when a well-constructed pedagogical framework is utilised to enhance the acquisition of new vocabulary during reading.

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Students have traditionally been taught comprehension procedures, including the acquisition of new vocabulary, as stand-alone skills making it difficult for them to know when, where, and how to apply them during reading (p119)

The Simple View of reading has been a widely accepted model that classifies reading difficulties into three subgroups on the basis of listening comprehension and word decoding accuracy (Gough & Tunmer, 1986). The dyslexic subgroup is characterised by phonological deficits and rapid word naming difficulties but with good listening comprehension skills. A second group has a combination of poor listening comprehension and decoding difficulties and is often referred to as a language learning disabled group. The third subgroup is composed of poor comprehenders who fail to adequately comprehend texts despite being skilled in phonemic awareness, phoneme segmentation, and automatic word reading (p120)

The acquisition of new vocabulary is particularly important for students with comprehension deficits because it enhances reading comprehension, academic development, and progress through school (Blachowicz, Fisher, Ogle, & Watts-Taffe, 2006; Rickets, Nation, & Bishop, 2007).........For poor comprehenders, the exposure to a higher volume of reading does not necessarily facilitate the acquisition of new vocabulary. A probable explanation for this failure is that they generally do not focus on word meaning and have difficulty. (p120)

Perfetti posited that depth of new word encoding, or lexical quality, was also an essential element for the enhancement of reading comprehension. The assertion is that word reading skill and text comprehension are directly related to how well word meanings are linked to existing knowledge in long-term memory (Perfetti, 2007). (p121)

Evidence based strategies include the teaching of prefixes, suffixes, root words.  The more explicit the vocabulary instruction the greater significant the gains. (p121)

The available evidence suggests that effective explicit instruction followed by adequate opportunities for practice can make a difference in developing automaticity and achievement for students, including those most at-risk (McDonald Connor, Morris, & Underwood, 2007; Pressley, 2002a).....In so doing, they are more likely to use appropriate background knowledge to make sense of information implicit within the text. (p122)

For example, it has been shown that students can be more cognitively engaged when they are taught to use metacognitive skills such as asking themselves appropriate questions and
monitoring their own responses for understanding (Guthrie Wigfield, Barbosa, Perencevich et al., 2004; Lubliner & Smetana, 2005; Nagy & Scott, 2000)