Elwood Educators Participate In Workshop To Improve Student Literacy and Academic Vocabulary

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In an effort to continue the betterment of education, the collaborative organization of Elwood Union Free School District administrators Ms. Pamela Fine, Dr. Maureen Hull and Ms. Eileen Kelly-Gorman has brought multiple opportunities for professional development to their staff this summer.

Most recently on Aug. 20 and 21, Ms. Amy Benjamin, a renowned staff developer in the area of literacy, visited educators throughout the district to help enhance student reading comprehension, fluency, writing and oral communication in all content areas. This course was designed to help faculty and staff from a variety of grade levels to hone in on academic vocabulary and to give specific attention to those working with non-native speakers of English.

“Over recent years, there has been a tremendous amount of research related to how people acquire language,” said Mrs. Fine. “This research has prompted educators to reflect on the instructional practices employed in our classrooms and to identify the most effective techniques to help students learn academic vocabulary.”

The workshop began with debunking ideas about how children learn academic vocabulary. Groups discussed questions such as “Is learning new words cognitively difficult?” and “Should teachers not use big words in class to avoid confusion in students with vocabulary deficits?”

Elwood educators played a variety of games to re-familiarize

themselves with the meanings of word parts during a two-day

professional development workshop led by renowned staff

developer Amy Benjamin.


Ms. Benjamin shared her knowledge and research in engaging ways, including research and personal anecdotes, exploring language acquisition and helping staff members grasp a deeper understanding of the English language.

“There are no such thing as hard words,” she told the staff members, “just infrequent ones. The English language is layered, so frequency, context and reputation are important aspects of learning it more in-depth.”

Throughout the rest of the two-day work shop, staff members were shown specific practices to best teach vocabulary, worked together to identify relationships between words, and played different games to learn the meanings of word parts.

“We learn words because we can’t help it,” said Ms. Benjamin, “so as educators we need we teach in a way that our children can’t help but learn what they need to know!”

Elwood teachers discussed the best practices in improving literacy and vocabulary in students during a professional development workshop led by Amy Benjamin Aug. 21-22.

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