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Vocabulary-Building Strategies for Students in Grades 4-12

Do your students struggle with academic vocabulary? Does vocabulary instruction often get set aside for more “important” literacy-related instruction? This online course is designed to increase the effectiveness of vocabulary instruction in grades 4-12. This course teaches about the importance of explicitly teaching vocabulary and what teachers can specifically do to enhance their literacy programs so that vocabulary development is constantly nurtured. Teachers will learn specific strategies such as Greek and Latin roots, structural analysis, and morphology in order to increase comprehension. Teachers will learn how to incorporate graphic organizers such as concept maps and word webs into their daily instruction in order to boost students’ vocabulary knowledge, both in reading and across all content areas. The idea of using vocabulary games will also be explored. Differentiation and assessment are also discussed, resulting in an in-depth understanding of just what it takes to foster a quality vocabulary program. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"Excellent source for enriching your teaching toolbox when teaching vocabulary." - Stephanie Mills


Enrollment Options

Register] Course Registration Only $120 with the discount

Register]Course Plus Credit from UC San Diego Extension Only $304


Required Resource Book: This course has a modestly-priced required resource book (available in both new and used versions) that can be purchased through Amazon using the following link. Note that you can begin and participate in your course before the book arrives.

Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary” by Brenda J. Overturf, Leslie H. Montgomery, and Margot Holmes Smith

If you are registering for multiple courses, use the following link to access the book list for all PDI courses with direct purchase links through Amazon. PDI Course Resource Book List


Topical Outline / Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

PDI Course Number: 101T02

UCSD Course Number: EDUC40145

Unit One

  • Academic Language and the Common Core
  • Choosing Words to Teach
  • Introducing New Words
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography
  • Test #1

Unit Two

  • Morphological Strategies
  • Structural Analysis and Word Parts
  • Greek and Latin Roots and Other Word Parts
  • Assignment #2: Article reflection
  • Test #2

Unit Three

  • Using Context Clues
  • Concept Maps and Word Webs
  • Words Their Way
  • Assignment #3: Share your expertise
  • Test #3

Unit Four

  • Semantic Feature Analysis
  • Figurative Language and Analogies
  • Mnemonics and Word Associations
  • Test #4

Unit Five

  • Using Reference Materials
  • The Reading Connection
  • Fostering Vocabulary through Writing
  • Test #5

Unit Six

  • Vocabulary Games
  • Differentiating Vocabulary Instruction
  • Content Area Vocabulary
  • Vocabulary Assessment in Context
  • Assignment #4: Develop a vocabulary unit and assessment
  • Assignment #5: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)