Approximate time to complete: 60 minutes 

Download the Course Companion document before starting this course. You can use the Course Companion to take notes on your learning, address reflection prompts, and as an easy way to retrieve course resources.  

Learning Objectives: 

Participants will be able to:

  • Explain the significance of vocabulary for reading comprehension 
  • Identify and implement effective strategies for teaching vocabulary 

Consider This Scenario

Connection Point

In your Course Companion, consider these questions:  

  • Can you relate to this scenario? In what ways are your challenges in literacy instruction similar or different? 

Fourth grade teacher, Mr. Zamora, has always provided opportunities for rich conversations in his classroom.  This was his main strategy for vocabulary instruction. However, during class time, Mr. Zamora noticed that several students struggled to explain the meaning of text passages and to use them to gain information. In particular, they seemed to struggle to understand the meaning of words that were key to understanding passages.

After reviewing assessment data, it became clear that vocabulary is at the top of his list of student needs. Mr. Zamora understands that students may come into his class with limited vocabulary because they are not exposed to robust conversations at home and he understands that limited or uneven access to instruction in science and social studies can hinder his students’ success. Furthermore, he knows that simply having students memorize definitions will not help them gain the understanding of words they need to successfully use them. However, he is not quite sure where to go next to help his students consistently learn the vocabulary they need to be successful.

What is the Role of Vocabulary in Comprehension? 

In this video, Nancy Hennessy discusses the role of vocabulary in reading comprehension. There is a place to take notes in your Course Companion.


After the video answer the following questions in your Course Companion:

  • How would you explain the role of vocabulary to colleagues? To caregivers? 

The Critical Role of Vocabulary with Nancy Hennessy

In this video, Nancy Hennessy expands her explanation of the role of vocabulary in reading comprehension. There is a place to take notes in your course companion. 

Knowledge Check

Take this short quiz to test your knowledge on vocabulary instruction. Click the square button to expand the quiz. 



Review the article “Five Key Principles for Effective Vocabulary Instruction” from Reading Rockets.

As you read:

  • Consider the five points that Dr. Shanahan made in the article. Identify those steps that you are currently utilizing and the steps that you are not utilizing.  

Course Reflection

In your Course Companion, answer the following question: 

  • Consider Dr. Hennessey’s Informed Vocabulary Framework along with the points made by Dr. Shanahan in the article. What steps can you take to incorporate the framework and other strategies into your instruction?

To Learn More


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Last Modified: 4/23/2024 4:38:32 PM