Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Part 3 in a Series


I want to share with you some more tried and true strategies for teaching vocabulary. 

The first is LINCS from the University of Kansas. 


LINCS is a mnemonic device for ingraining new words. It helps students to make memorable connections and relationships between the word and it's meaning.

For example, I vividly remember the first time I heard the word minuscule as a child. I looked up the definition (because in contrast to many of my future students, I was bookish) and read that it meant "extremely small; tiny." In my mind I made a connection that "minuscule" sounded like "mini school" and to this day I invision a teeny tiny school anytime I hear the word minuscule. That's the type of thing that children with normal language do naturally. Unfortunately, our students with language impairments do not do it naturally. In fact, they have a hard time doing it at all - even with our training and lots of practice.

This is the LINCS strategy; a way to give a word meaning that will "stick."

L ist the parts 
I  dentify a reminding word 
N ote a linking story
C reate a linking picture
S elf test 

As you can tell, the strategy uses visual imagery and associations to create a (hopefully) powerful memory between a word and its meaning. The University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning explains why it works:


Using the LINCS Strategy transforms  a potentially weak link between a word and its definition into a chain of very strong links. 

Research supporting the LINCS strategy is impressive. A study was conducted in a social studies class, and the LINCS strategy was taught to the students in that class. Learning disabled students in the class performed a mean of 53 percent correct on a pretest and then at a mean of 77 percent correct after learning and using the strategy. Interestingly enough, students in the control class who did not learn the strategy actually decreased from pretest to posttest.

You can read more about LINCS research and what the pretests and posttests consisted of here

There are countless examples of LINCS graphic organizers to be found online or you can use a sheet of paper or index card. 

Here is a video demonstrating the use of a "card" (sheet of paper or index card) which has plenty of room for even beginning writers: 


For older students who can squeeze more writing into a small space, this LINCS table (shown below) is very popular, and there are plenty of similar templates to be found on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

Check out this video explaining the use of a LINCS table! 


You can see more examples and read more at this guest post by Nicole Allison @ Speech Rooms News

Now, LINCS isn't the only game in town. Teacher extraordinaire, Dr. Anita Archer, has her own methods of explicit vocabulary instruction. 

Check out this stellar vocab instruction from Dr. Anita Archer following reading a story aloud...


She does the same kind of thing with the older crowd, too. You can see more of her videos at her website here.

Dr. Anita Archer's method of teaching new words includes:

Introduce the Word.
- Write the word on the board or show it in a screen
- Pronounce the word or guide students in using their decoding skills to determine the pronunciation of the word. 
- Have students pronounce the word, repeating the word a number of times if the word is unfamiliar or difficult to proounce. 
Provide a student- friendly explanation of the word.
- Be sure that the definition contains only known words and is easy to understand.
Illustrate with examples. 
- The examples can be concrete, visual or verbal. 
(Verbal examples were used to illustrate concentrate, impressed and educated in the video above.)
Check students' understanding. This can be done various ways:
- Ask "deep processing questions" 
- Have students discern between examples and non-examples
- Have students generate their own examples. 


  • Research shows that a student in the 50th percentile (in terms of ability to comprehend subject matter taught in school) with no direct vocabulary instruction will score in the 50th percentile ranking.
  • The same student, after content-area terms have been taught in a strategic way, raises his/her comprehension ability to the 83rd percentile. 

TAKE AWAY: for ALL students, explicit vocabulary instruction WORKS! 

Please check back for the 4th part of my vocabulary series coming soon :) 





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