Posted on 08/20/2018 at 07:47 AM by Blog Experts

The Our Kids 2018 Summer Institute held this past June was a great success.  The two days were full of energetic presenters and participants eager to learn know more about meeting the needs of their English Learners.  A major focus this year was on meeting the needs of preschool ELs.  Jill Peters, a general education preschool teacher from Waterloo CSD, presented a session called The Power of Intentional and Systematic Vocabulary Instruction in Early Childhood.  Throughout her presentation she stressed the need for teaching vocabulary intentionally. 

Mrs. Peters shared that studies have shown early learners (pre-readers) can benefit from direct vocabulary instruction of root words.  After a vocabulary intervention for ELs in one study, the author noted the following.  “At the immediate posttests, the intervention showed advantages for both word-level reading and proximal reading vocabulary, and at 6-month follow-up a continued treatment advantage in word reading and proximal reading vocabulary.  The immediate and follow-up findings offer preliminary evidence for the value of instruction that strengthens orthographic-phonological and meaning connections in learning a useful set of high-utility root word forms.” (Vadasy, 2013)

Participants were asked to share vocabulary practices they currently use to intentionally teach vocabulary.  Some of the strategies shared included; repeated read alouds picking out 8-10 words, find a word and find a visual from Google Imagines, using Total Physical Response (TPR), put your finger on your nose when you hear the word in the story, think alouds, and sentence starters.

Mrs. Peter shared a vocabulary strategy she uses with her preschool students called The Rule of Three.  The Rule of Three is a systematic vocabulary strategy that has students use a three step process when learning new words.  The three steps are rehearse, analyze and produce.  Students work with grade-level words to help them build a solid foundation for Common Core reading and writing.

If you would like to learn more about The Rule of Three strategy or would like to purchase materials please visit

We hope to see you next summer at the Our Kids 2019 Summer Institute.  Next year’s institute will be held at the FFA Enrichment Center, 1055 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy, Ankeny, IA 500023

Quoted Resource: Vadasy, P.F., Nelson, J.R., & Sanders, E.A. (2013). Longer term effects of a tier 2 kindergarten vocabulary intervention for English Learners. Remedial and Special Education, 34(2), 91-101.

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