1st Edition

Developing Conceptual Knowledge through Oral and Written Language
Perspectives and Practices, PreK-12

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ISBN 9781462542611
Published May 4, 2020 by Guilford Press
238 Pages

USD $35.00

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Book Description

The development of students’ conceptual understanding of the world is vital to their academic success at all grade levels (preschool through high school) and across content areas. This professional resource and course text presents expert perspectives on building conceptual knowledge and vocabulary through reading, writing, and classroom discussion. Topics include the importance of word study and informational texts in early literacy, discussion practices that boost comprehension, the use of multimodal and appropriately complex texts, engaging digital literacies, and discipline-specific writing. Ways to strengthen English learners’ conceptual skills are highlighted. Each chapter describes current research, explains how to plan and scaffold instruction, distills Implications for Professional Learning, and offers Questions for Discussion.   

Table of Contents

Foreword, Elfrieda H. Hiebert
1. Introduction, Melanie R. Kuhn
2. Developing Vocabulary Skills While Developing Conceptual Knowledge: Strategies from the PAVEd for Success Kindergarten and Prekindergarten Program, Claire E. Hamilton & Paula J. Schwanenflugel
3. “I Don’t Just Want to Read, I Want to Learn Something”: Best Practices for Using Informational Texts to Build Young Children’s Conceptual Knowledge, Mariam Jean Dreher & Sharon B. Kletzien
4. What Does Discussion Add to Reading for Conceptual Learning?, Pei-Yu Marian Pan, Brian W. Miller, & Richard C. Anderson
5. Using Multimodal Text Sets to Support Conceptual Understandings, Jeanne Swafford
6. Developing Conceptual Knowledge in the Content Areas: Overlooked Features of Texts That Influence Complexity, Heidi Anne E. Mesmer
7. Teaching and Learning in a Digital World: Digital Literacies for Disciplinary Learning, Jill Castek & Michael Manderino
8. Teaching to Write and Writing to Learn: Conceptual Development through Discipline-Specific Writing, Estanislado S. Barrera IV & Kim Skinner
9. Addressing Complexities of Science Texts to Facilitate English Language Learners’ Conceptual Development, Marco A. Bravo, Saúl I. Maldonado, & Jorge L. Solís
10. Amplifying Diverse Voices with Read-Alouds in Elementary, Middle, and High School Classrooms: Connecting Concepts to Practice, Catherine Lammert, Stacia L. Long, & Jo Worthy
11. What’s Involved in Preparing Students for Workplace Writing Success?: Linking Conceptual and Practical Knowledge, Maria Grant, Diane Lapp, & Thomas DeVere Wolsey

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Melanie R. Kuhn, PhD, is Professor and Jean Adamson Stanley Faculty Chair in Literacy at the Purdue University College of Education. In addition to reading fluency, her research interests include literacy instruction for struggling readers, and comprehension and vocabulary development. Formerly on the faculties of the Boston University School of Education and the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, Dr. Kuhn began her teaching career in the Boston public schools and worked as an instructor at an international school in England. She served as a member of the Literacy Research Panel for the International Literacy Association. Dr. Kuhn has published several books and numerous journal articles and book chapters.
Mariam Jean Dreher, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership at the University of Maryland, College Park. Previously she was an elementary classroom teacher and Title I specialist. Her research interests include ways to integrate informational text into literacy instruction to enhance students’ comprehension, vocabulary, and motivation. Dr. Dreher has published numerous articles and books and has served on many editorial advisory boards, receiving the Outstanding Reviewer Award from the Journal of Literacy Research. She is a consultant to National Geographic Children’s Books on a series of information books for young children. Dr. Dreher is a recipient of a Fulbright Senior Specialist Grant and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Oulu, Finland.


"By addressing how students acquire concepts related to language and reasoning, this book provides teachers with a range of ideas important to literacy development across grades and contexts. Each chapter presents a cohesive framework for considering multiple aspects of language, both oral and written. The volume supplies a needed perspective on the complex array of skills and knowledge that must develop in concert across time and experience to support school success. It will be a valuable text for courses focused on early reading/literacy development and instruction, and an excellent supplemental text for graduate courses on content-area/disciplinary literacies."--Carol A. Donovan, PhD, Director, Belser–Parton Literacy Center, University of Alabama

"This volume shows how educators can help students use language in all its forms to prepare them to engage effectively in the world of knowledge. It presents strategies for developing students' language and literacy skills in ways that build both conceptual understanding and the abilities to think critically and communicate competently. Readers will benefit from a breadth of accessible practices for supporting students across grades and throughout their school learning experiences. Importantly, the book is designed to help bridge the gap between research and practice. The key takeaways for teachers and the discussion questions make the text especially useful for preservice teacher training and professional learning."--Alison K. Billman, PhD, Director of Early Elementary Curriculum, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley

"This book is an excellent resource for classroom teachers, literacy leaders, and teacher educators. The contributors present a holistic view of language and literacy development, reminding us that language and literacy are essential tools for constructing meaning and for exploring the world around us. The central topic of conceptual knowledge development is extremely timely and relevant. Every chapter is written with the clear goal of using current research to suggest implications for classroom practice. The book is full of concrete examples and recommendations, making it a terrific text for use in a teacher study group or professional learning community. It would also serve well as a core text for graduate-level education courses."--Juliet L. Halladay, PhD, Department of Education, University of Vermont-