Students need multiple exposures
to a word to learn it well.
the program benefited even more from
program participation than did students
who spoke English at home.
We also conducted analyses to
determine whether students who participated in the program improved in their
reading ability, as measured by the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment
System (MCAS). Word Generation students who improved their vocabulary
scores also tended to improve their
MCAS scores. We are not suggesting,
however, that merely learning additional academic words was sufficient to
improve student performance on a state-mandated achievement measure. Rather,
we believe that the program’s regular
debate, persuasive writing, and critical-thinking activities improved both students’ academic word knowledge and
their broader literacy skills.
In a follow-up longitudinal study,
we administered assessments in the
fall and spring of the following year
to determine how well students
maintained and consolidated their
knowledge of target academic words.
In both follow-up assessments, students who participated in the program
maintained their relative improvements
(Lawrence, Capotosto, Branum-Martin,
White, & Snow, 2010).
to word learning appear to improve
reading comprehension (as measured
by improved word knowledge). Vocabulary gains for participating students
are still apparent even a year after the
instruction has ended.
Our experience with Word Generation provides evidence that cross-content vocabulary instruction can
provide rich word-learning opportunities, which translate into improved
reading achievement. EL
aptitude, time spent reading, and text
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Lawrence, J., Capotosto, L., Branum-Martin, L., White, C., & Snow, C.
(2010). Learning and maintaining academic
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Although a randomized trial of the
Word Generation program is still
underway, the results from the quasi-
experiment described here suggest
that combining the research-based
components of vocabulary instruction
in a schoolwide program can improve
student word learning in urban middle
schools. In addition, these approaches
Beck, I., McKeown, M., & Kucan, L. (2002).
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vocabulary development: Implications
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Joshua F. Lawrence is a postdoctoral
fellow, Harvard Graduate School of
Education, Cambridge, Massachusetts;
Claire White is director of the Strategic Education Research Partnership’s
Word Generation program; cwhite@
serpinstitute.org. Catherine E. Snow
is Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor of
Education, Harvard Graduate School of