101 Strategies to Make Vocabulary Stick

While preparing for a master class project recently, I found the book 101 Strategies to Make Academic Vocabulary Stick. Author Marilee Sprenger introduces her book by explaining how important it is that educators across all content areas and grade levels address what she refers as “word poverty.” In fact, she maintains that vocabulary may be the most important content that we teach.

In the first chapter she lays a great foundation by providing interesting research supporting the importance of sound vocabulary pedagogy. Part of this research includes relevant information about the five long-term memory systems. Of particular interest to me was the segment on emotional memory. I found it remarkable that emotional memory takes precedence over any other kind of memory. What an eye opener—we must engage learners’ emotions—emotional information is more immediately stored in long term memory.

Chapters 2, 3 and 4 provide an overview of the three stages of building long-term memories: encoding, storage, and retrieval. In chapter 2, encoding strategies are provided for effective introductions that jump start the memory process. Chapter 3 provides strategies to assist students putting words into long-term storage. And, chapter 4 discusses strategies for retrieval, the final stage of long-term memory.

 Although there are many books available which discuss how to teach vocabulary, it can be difficult to find strategies that will engage students them without insulting their sense of themselves, particularly secondary students. Everything is either too tough, or too easy. Most of the strategies in this book are easily applicable to all grade levels. This book is great for secondary educators as well as elementary educators. The author also specifies which strategies are well adapted for ELL students.

I highly recommend this book to all educators who wish to invest in their students’ academic achievement.

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Review written by GE Instructional Coach Rick Pierce