Building Academic Vocabulary and Deep Comprehension, Grades K-5

The goal of this course is to provide you with opportunities to understand best practices in vocabulary growth and development.

What is one of the most critical indicators of students’ success throughout their school career and in life? The answer is the size of a student’s vocabulary, coupled with their ability to access and interpret their meaning while reading, speaking, listening, and writing. Building a strong vocabulary foundation is one of the most critical indicators of an individual’s success in school and in life. According to business executives, one of the most important career skills that a person can have to be successful in the workplace. Vocabulary growth is critical to a child’s success in school since it is directly related to academic achievement and helps children learn about the world in which they live. Having a large and accessible vocabulary directly links to a student’s ability to learn and to read, write, and think.

The goal of this course is to provide you with opportunities to understand best practices in vocabulary growth and development. You will also identify ways to expand student vocabulary knowledge and usage within the content area classroom in grades K-5 to maximize textual comprehension. You will be able to identify a variety of factors and characteristics that influence why students come to school with limited vocabulary exposure. You will explore educational research that investigates a variety of influences, such as cultural or racial differences, income status, the influence of native language, and prior learning exposure that may impact and shape the expansiveness of the language and vocabulary storehouse that students bring to the classroom.

You will be able to help students deepen their understanding of complex, grade-level texts through the strategic selection of academic vocabulary that will build background knowledge and support higher levels of comprehension with grade-level texts. You will learn how to help students connect meaning to important vocabulary concepts using text-dependent questions and strategic meaning-making activities. You will explore the use of morphology, affixes, and root words and how these skills can expand vocabulary lexicons and help students connect words to their meanings. You will develop an understanding of the gaps that diverse learners bring to the classroom that limit their ability to read and comprehend fluently.

Finally, you will explore the barriers that prevent vocabulary development and learn why students bring diverse learning needs, motivations, and interests to the classroom. You will also delve into differences based on personal identity factors such as race, gender, ethnicity, and cultural backgrounds and how these factors influence equitable learning in the classroom.

Throughout the 6 modules of this course, you will identify a variety of strategies to expand student word knowledge, capitalize on the prior knowledge and rich cultural heritages your students bring to the classroom. As a result of your new knowledge and ability to help students quickly and easily expand their access to academic vocabulary, you will be able to create a positive, brave learning environment in your own classroom that provides learning equity and greater academic success for our students.

This course has been divided into the following modules:

  1. What is Academic Vocabulary?
  2.  Instruction that Strengthens and Expands Vocabulary
  3.  Learning About Language and Morphology
  4. Building and Connecting with Words
  5. Language Building for ELLs and Special Needs Students
  6. Strengthening Content Vocabulary and Reading Skills





Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy


Designing Coherent Instruction


Engaging Students in Learning


Reflecting on Teaching