Effective Vocabulary Instructional Strategies

The Target of ELLs

To successfully meet the needs of ELLs, the instruction would be best presented using a differentiated instruction model to help teachers respond to the needs of diverse learners. Differentiated instruction grew out of the foundational work of Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development, which emphasized the importance of a meaningful learning experience through a collaborative student-teacher relationship. Differentiated instruction is an exemplary of such a theory in that it perceives the experience of learning as collaborative and social. Providing an inclusive environment and appropriate lesson plans are a few essential factors that contribute to a student’s positive educational experience when teachers apply differentiated instruction techniques. “As learning is not a one-size-fits-all philosophy, and English learners cannot be categorized into one homogeneous group”, instruction must mirror various learning styles of each student, especially ELLs.

Consequently, differentiated instructional practices include, but are not limited to, interactive teaching techniques, sharing multicultural books, using technology, like Smart Boards, as visual aids and as an interactive learning experience, and the opportunity to “engage in meaningful content-rich activities …that encourage language growth through perception, interaction, planning, research, 3 discussions, argument, and co-construction of academic products”.

Focus

By focusing on vocabulary instructional practices, teachers had the opportunity to meet the needs of ELLs in a more effective manner. Teacher-participants engaged in an online book study of Brassell’s Dare to Differentiate: Vocabulary Strategies for All Students, which introduced effective vocabulary practices to increase ELLs’ vocabulary knowledge. Brassell’s book was a good example of how vocabulary instruction could be differentiated so that all students could learn, especially ELLs.

Vocabulary Strategies

Vocabulary strategies were modified for the second edition of the book to include suggestions for differentiating instruction. These suggestions were included for each of the 25 vocabulary strategies presented so that teachers had a better understanding how to meet the needs of the English language learner. Teachers collaboratively discussed the book using My Learning Plan, which is a web-based program used for online professional development and completed a pre- and post-survey to determine the effects of the intervention.

Online Learning

Online learning provided better learning experiences and offered the potential to individualize participants’ experiences. Online learning is a relevant and viable vehicle for professional development in the 21st century and reflects the direction the field of education is going. The services rendered to ELLs must be designed to improve English reading, writing, speaking, and listening, but does not specify the manner in which these services are to be implemented by mainstream classroom teachers. Online professional development is a learning experience developed for teachers and delivered partially or completely via the internet.

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