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Take Aim Aligns with Adolescent Literacy Recommendations

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Five evidence-based recommendations for improving adolescent literacy (4th/5th grade through high school) are described in Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom Intervention Practices (Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Practice Guide, What Works Clearinghouse). Based on a review of experimental studies, trends in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and correlational and longitudinal studies, the IES practice guide recommends strategies that classroom teachers can incorporate into their instruction to help students gain more from their reading tasks and to improve their students’ motivation and engagement in learning.

Five Evidence-Based Recommendations for Improving Adolescent Literacy

The five recommendations include:

  1. Provide explicit vocabulary instruction.
  2. Provide direct and explicit comprehension strategy instruction.
  3. Provide opportunities for extended discussion of text meaning and interpretation.
  4. Increase student motivation and engagement in literacy learning.
  5. Make available intensive and individualized interventions for struggling readers that can be provided by trained specialists.

Specific Vocabulary Instruction Recommendations

The level of evidence for the first recommendation regarding explicit vocabulary instruction is “strong.” Strong refers to consistent and generalizable evidence that a practice causes better outcomes for students in measures of reading proficiency.

Reviewers found that by giving students explicit instruction in vocabulary, teachers help students learn the meaning of new words and strengthen their independent skills of constructing the meaning from text.

The practice guide describes how the recommendations for vocabulary instruction should be carried out. Take Aim! at Vocabulary, designed for students who can read at a 4th/5th grade reading level or above, provides vocabulary instruction that meets these recommendations.

Vocabulary Recommendation
(IES Practice Guide)
Features of Take Aim! at Vocabulary
  1. Dedicate a portion of regular classroom lessons to explicit vocabulary instruction. 
Take Aim provides small group or individualized vocabulary instruction for 30-45 minutes per day. Lessons provide explicit instruction for carefully selected target words and specific learning strategies that can help students develop vocabulary independently.
  1. Use repeated exposure to new words in multiple written and oral contexts, and allow sufficient practice sessions in vocabulary instruction.
In Take Aim, students encounter each target word multiple times—as they read the story, the definition, and the clarifying sentence, and as they read subsequent stories within the same unit.  Students also answer several questions that use the target word and complete activities related to each target word.
  1. Give sufficient opportunities to use new vocabulary in a variety of contexts through activities such as discussion, writing, and extended reading.
In Take Aim, students are actively engaged in motivating activities:  high interest stories, graphs for monitoring progress, hink pinks, crossword puzzles, sketching, sharing their sketches, and mapping activities.  Students deeply process the words they are learning through a variety of exposures.  Students have additional opportunities to apply their understanding of target words through enrichment activities.
  1. Provide students with strategies to make them independent vocabulary learners.
Students learn strategies to help them figure out the meanings of unknown words they encounter:  using context clues, analyzing word parts, using a dictionary or glossary.

Take Aim! at Vocabulary—Who Can Benefit?

Take Aim! at Vocabulary is designed to support core reading programs through explicit, systematic instruction in vocabulary, one of the key components of a balanced reading program. Core reading programs expose students to many vocabulary words in the context of literature and expository text, and students learn helpful skills and strategies. Take Aim extends vocabulary learning by systematically presenting the strategies in an intense and focused lesson design. As a result, as students master the 288 high-quality target words presented in each level, they also internalize the skills and strategies necessary for independently learning unknown words.

Take Aim can benefit a wide range of students in the critical middle grades:

  • Take Aim can be used to deepen vocabulary development with students who are meeting grade level standards.
  • Take Aim can be used as an intervention with students who tend to struggle with reading comprehension because they are weak in vocabulary.
  • Take Aim can be used as a standard protocol intervention with students who are identified as below benchmark standards in vocabulary on assessments.

Take Aim is available in two formats: individualized format and group format.

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