Learning Words Inside and Out, Grades 1-6 by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher - Heinemann Publishing A Division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Heinemann

Learning Words Inside and Out, Grades 1-6

Vocabulary Instruction That Boosts Achievement in All Subject Areas

Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher
Foreword by Donna Ogle

ISBN 978-0-325-02612-1 / 0-325-02612-2 / 2009 / 192pp / Paperback
Imprint: Heinemann
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Grade Level: 1st - 6th
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Nancy Frey and Doug Fisher have given all elementary teachers a real gift with this guide to teaching and learning subject-area vocabulary.… What they have created is an inviting and persuasive guide for elementary teachers to follow in restructuring their subject-area instruction to include meaningful attention to vocabulary.

—Donna Ogle

Author of Reading Comprehension: Strategies for Independent Learners

During nonfiction read-aloud, the unfamiliar word manufacture comes up. Your unit on the solar system includes difficult new terms. In math time, kids need to know what an addend is. Learning Words Inside & Out helps you use moments like these to make word learning a part of all your lessons and to connect students to new vocabulary.

Learning Words Inside & Out shows you how to embed powerful vocabulary instruction into your teaching. Throughout your teaching day, you’ll give students the multiple encounters they need to know a word’s meaning forever. With Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher’s strategies, you’ll:

  • Make it intentional—Select words for instruction that are worth precious classroom time
  • Make it transparent—Give students word-solving strategies by modeling your thinking during read-aloud
  • Make it useable—Provide oral and written practice through authentic peer activities
  • Make it personal—Help words stick through well-designed independent activities
  • Make it a priority—Create a schoolwide focus on word learning.

Frey and Fisher also call out specific ways to support English learners and struggling readers. Their numerous examples of classroom language model many types of effective teacher-student interaction. Best of all, an accompanying study guide will help you get the most from Frey and Fisher’s strategies—a helpful resource for individuals or teacher study groups.

Help your students develop a passion for words and give them the subject-area vocabulary they need for success. Read Learning Words Inside ;& Out and connect kids with words by making word learning part of everything you do.


  • Why Teaching Subject AreaWords CanMake or Break Achievement
  • Make It Intentional: A Framework for DailyWord Learning
  • Make ItTransparent: Showing StudentsYourThinking AboutWords
  • Make It Useable: Harnessing the Power of Peer Conversations
  • Make It Personal: Consolidate Students’ Word Learning Through Individual Activities
  • Make It a Priority: Creating a Schoolwide Focus on LearningWords
  • Make It Your Own: How to Keep Learning About Academic Vocabulary

Appendix: Dolch Word Lists


In Depth

CHAPTER 1: Why Teaching Subject Area Words CanMake or Break Achievement

With this book, our goal is to show you a teaching and learning framework that helps make students self-regulating, independent word learners. They need to learn 250,000 words before graduation. So we want to move your thinking hundreds of miles away from the view of vocabulary instruction as disembodied lists for students to memorize and toward a stance where word learning is fun for students, is an excuse to interact with peers, and gives students the intellectual and social currency of being able to think, speak, read, and write with greater facility. And we want to introduce you to a five-part framework for instruction that accomplishes this goal effectively.

CHAPTER 2: Make It Intentional

It isn't enough to merely present students with a list of words for them to memorize for the next quiz; words must be taught in a systematic and intentional way. This means that content and vocabulary instruction need to be consolidated so that word learning is a natural and necessary part of learning the content. The first step is to identify the general, specialized, and technical vocabulary necessary across a student's day.

  • Study Guide
  • PowerPoint Slides with facilitator notes
  • Note: To access the faciliator notes, you will need to save the PowerPoint presentation to your computer and open it using Microsoft PowerPoint. To save the file, right-click on the link and select "Save Target As..." from the menu, browse to the location you wish to save it to, and click the save button.

  • Chapter 2 & 3 Video Podcast with discussion questions Play
  • Resource Links
    1. Online vocabulary exercises for the Academic Word List:www.academicvocabularyexercises.com
    2. Using Basic English on Wikipedia: simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_English
    3. Inspire vocabulary curiosity by creating Wordle word clouds. Here are 16 Interesting Ways to Use Wordle with your students: docs.google.com/Present?docid=dhn2vcv5_157dpbsg9c5 (Note: You must sign in with your Google username and password in order to view this presenation. If you do not have a Google account you can sign up for free so that you may view it.)

CHAPTER 3: Make It Transparent

Our experience and research suggest that modeling is critical teaching. Students need models they can use in their own reading. Modeling should not take significant amounts of time away from content instruction; vocabulary is content instruction. Using words is how experts across disciplines communicate with one another. Our job as teachers is to welcome students into these conversations.

CHAPTER 4: Make It Useable

Vocabulary learners need time to build their understanding of words and terms through peer interactions. Building vocabulary requires active learning, and regular peer interactions let students see words from the inside and outside—and help make word learning a part of their everyday discourse. Thus, the acquisition of words and ideas becomes central to their lives rather than something school focused, and we all get that much closer to achieving true content knowledge.

  • Study Guide
  • PowerPoint Slides with facilitator notes
  • Note: To access the faciliator notes, you will need to save the PowerPoint presentation to your computer and open it using Microsoft PowerPoint. To save the file, right-click on the link and select "Save Target As..." from the menu, browse to the location you wish to save it to, and click the save button.

  • Resource Links
    1. This website on collaborative learning is useful for further examining the elements that result in productive group work: www.gdrc.org/kmgmt/c-learn
    2. Check It Out! Using Checklists to Support Student Learning, Kathleen Dudden Rowlands
      Rowlands details numerous ways that checklists can enhance teaching and learning. One example she provides is using a checklist in a British Romantic poetry unit. “Put That on the List: Collaboratively Writing a Catalog Poem” also uses a checklist to help the students with the activity. Using the structure of the list, students combine creative expression with poetic techniques and language exploration to write group poems about what matters in their lives. The checklist helps students include all of the requirements and manage their group work.
    3. The interactive website VoiceThread.com allows students to orally compose and listen to their presentations. Because it is a secure network, you won’t expose student work to the whole world. However, the web-based service makes it possible to collaborate with learners across the hall or across the world:

CHAPTER 5: Make It Personal

A major goal of elementary education is to teach children the habits necessary for independent learning. A necessary outcome of independent learning should be that the activity promotes learners' growth as self-motivators, self-managers, and self-appraisers. The needs of individual students must be considered as well, particularly when it comes to choice, differentiation, and relevance. Our strategies encourage students to be word users and to notice how their own learning evolves over time.

  • Study Guide
  • PowerPoint Slides with facilitator notes
  • Note: To access the faciliator notes, you will need to save the PowerPoint presentation to your computer and open it using Microsoft PowerPoint. To save the file, right-click on the link and select "Save Target As..." from the menu, browse to the location you wish to save it to, and click the save button.

  • Resource Links
    1. One of our very favorite online vocabulary games, and for a good cause! The UN World Food Program has set up a game where the payoff for correct answers is a donation of free rice on the player’s behalf. Difficulty levels range from 1–60 so that even young children can play.
    2. Mary Jo Fresch’s article for Reading Online entitled, “Using Think-Alouds to Analyze Decision Making During Spelling Word Sorts” provides insight into the kinds of thinking fifth grade students engaged in as they sorted words. This study is useful for understanding the thinking that occurs during this independent activity:
    3. This website is maintained by two elementary teachers and provides downloadable writing frames for younger children based on popular books like Alexander and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.

CHAPTER 6: Make It a Priority

Schoolwide initiatives raise word consciousness among teachers and students because they communicate the powerful message that words matter. We recommend two such programs: Words of the Week and wide reading. In this chapter we detail how and why these programs work and how they contribute to the overall goals of a vocabulary initiative.

CHAPTER 7: Make It Your Own

By now, you're probably asking yourself, How can I summarize and synthesize all of the information I've read in this book? We know that the information we've shared in these pages can be a bit overwhelming. We don't know anyone (including ourselves) who does all of these things on a daily basis. So this final chapter provides concluding thoughts and some additional resources helpful in improving academic vocabulary instruction.

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