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Module 5 Facilitator Guide: Developing Vocabulary

Building strong foundations: developing early literacy skills. Module 5: Developing vocabulary


In this module, participants will:

  • Understand the progression of skills needed for students to develop a rich vocabulary  
  • Define and identify environmental, cultural, and social factors that contribute to literacy development.
  • Understand and explain the known causal relationship among phonological skill, phonic decoding, spelling, accurate and automatic word recognition, text reading fluency, background knowledge, verbal reasoning skill, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing. 
  • Understand the relationship between vocabulary and comprehension 
  • Understand that word knowledge is multifaceted. 
  • Review common morphemes in English, including Anglo- Saxon compounds, inflectional suffixes, and derivational suffixes; Latin-based prefixes, roots, and derivational suffixes; and Greek-based combining forms. 
  • Know how to select appropriate words to teach 
  • Learn a direct six-step approach to teaching vocabulary 
  • Understand the role of vocabulary development and vocabulary knowledge in comprehension.
  • Understand the role and characteristics of direct and indirect (contextual) methods of vocabulary instruction 
  • Know varied techniques for vocabulary instruction before, during, and after reading.
  • Understand that word knowledge is multifaceted.

Smiling young girl reading a book outdoors on the grass

Teachers Do:

  • Detailed Module 5 Outline
  • Module 5 Resource Library

Facilitator(s) Do:

  • Video: EL Proficiency Standards
  • Handout 2.1 Characteristics of Reader’s Vocabulary Knowledge
  • Handout 2.2 Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy of Action Verbs
  • Video: Social Versus Academic Language
  • Handout 3.1 Instructional Routine to Teach Vocabulary Explicitly
  • Handout 3.2 Direct Instruction Vocabulary Routine in Action
  • Video: Academic Vocabulary Instruction in Kindergarten
  • Handout 3.3 Viewing a Direct Vocabulary Instruction Routine Video
  • Video: Vocabulary Instruction 2nd Grade
  • Handout 3.4 Continuum Charts
  • Handout 3.5 Sentence Stems to Support Vocabulary Knowledge
  • Handout 3.6  Experiencing Concept Sorts
  • Handout 3.7 The Frayer Model
  • Video: Frayer Model. The Teacher Toolkit

  • Handout 3.6 The Frayer Model
  • Handout 4.1 Capturing Prefixes, Suffixes, Roots
  • Handout 4.2 Word Webs
  • Video: Foundations In Spelling
  • Handout 5.1 Semantic Gradients
  • Handout 5.2 Semantic Feature Analysis
  • Handout 6.1 Plan and Prompt
  • Handout 6.2 Listen and Look
  • Handout 6.3 Plan Your Approach
  • Video: Strengthening Vocabulary with Read Alouds
  • Article: Using Read-Alouds to Help Struggling Readers Access and Comprehend Complex Informational Text
  • Handout 6.4 Activities to Promote Vocabulary Development Using Synonyms
  • Video: Cognates
  • Handout 7.1 Using a Graphic Organizer


Essential Questions:

  • How do environmental, cultural, and social factors impact literacy development?
  • Why is it important to teach vocabulary using a multifaceted approach? 
  • How does vocabulary development impact comprehension?
  • Explain the tiers of vocabulary to a colleague. How does knowledge of the tiers improve vocabulary instruction?
  • Why is knowledge of common morphological structures important for comprehension?

Reflection Questions:

  • Are there any methods/practices that you currently implement but can enhance? If so, how?
  • Are there any methods/strategies that you plan to embed in your instruction? If so, which ones? How will you do so?



Curriculum Dive:

Use the Curriculum Evaluation Tool or the Curriculum Dive - Notetaking Template (DOCX) to review your primary literacy instructional resources. For this module, use the section with the heading “Vocabulary.”

Student Profile:

In the previous session, teachers used the Student Profile Template (DOCX) to analyze the student’s data and observations of the student’s abilities related to vocabulary. In this session, teachers should continue using student assessment and observation data to analyze the student’s strengths and weaknesses in vocabulary knowledge.


The Implementation phase of the Facilitator guide is to target important instructional practices and ensure that these practices are in place or progress throughout K-3 classrooms.

Features of Effective Instruction: self-assessment:

Using the Features of Effective Instruction Checklist (DOCX) and the Vocabulary section of the Leader Look For Document (DOCX), have teachers reflect on their instructional practices. What do they do regularly and well? What features may they be overlooking or need development? Have each teacher mark the areas in which they consider themselves effective in regards to vocabulary instruction and features they wish to improve upon. Ask teachers to highlight the area they want or need to improve on the most. This category can be focal points for coach or administrator observations.

Features of Effective Instruction: plan for observations (For coaches/administrators)

Between now and the next session, focus coaching or observation cycles on effective instructional practices in vocabulary instruction. Observe each K-3 teacher using the Features of Effective Instruction Checklist (DOCX)” and the Vocabulary section in the Leader Look For Document (DOCX).