Cleveland Heights - University Heights City School District
Literacy Resources
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Implementing Vocabulary Strategies

PAVE Vocabulary Template:
(pdf) (word)

All teachers have received a packet of 30 vocabulary strategies organized around six categories:

  • Defining Words
  • Comparing Words
  • Visualizing Words
  • Contextualizing Words
  • Analyzing Words
  • Playing with Words

These protocols provide excellent opportunities for supporting student acquisition of vocabulary across the content areas. Research has demonstrated that these ways of designing word learning are positively correlated with increased comprehension.

This article provides five important considerations for effective implementation of these strategies:

1.) Choosing wisely which words to teach. Take time to select a limited number of high yield words that will have long-lasting impact related to understanding relevant content.

2.) Select the most appropriate strategy to meet student need. Since the strategy is the means to an end, rather than the end in and of itself, make sure you keep the eye on the prize (deepening student understanding of the word).

3.) Modify the protocol to address student need. Adapting strategies to serve student learning is important. For example, when using the PAVE protocol, you may choose to skip the step where students write a sentence using their predicted definition if you suspect this will confound their ultimate comprehension of the word.

4.) Take advantage of vocabulary strategies that double as “assessment for learning” opportunities. Cloze and Knowledge Rating Chart are two pre-teaching strategies that serve as a window to help inform instruction.

5.) Consider these strategies “replacement practices” instead of an extra layer of instructional activity. For example, use of these protocols can replace instructional routines that research has demonstrated are ineffective. Examples of routines that should be reconsidered include: direct copying of definition entries from dictionaries, repeated writing of words multiple times, word searches that don’t advance understanding of word meanings, etc.

These strategies do not represent the totality of excellent word study protocols, but they will serve as a great resource to support a shared vision in our district related to instructional practices that best support student achievement across all content areas. Our success will be measured by student transfer of words in meaningful ways (speaking, listening, viewing, reading and writing) within and across classes.