Flood. Fast. Focus.

No-More-Look-Up-the-List-Vocabulary-InstructionToday I finished the other Not This, But That book I own.  This one was on vocabulary instruction.  The general message of the book is that vocabulary should not be studied in isolation but instead be fused into the culture of the classroom.  They used the term word consciousness (which I loved) to describe student awareness of when a word’s meaning is understood and when it is not.

Here are a few great quotes for the book:

  • “The understanding of word meaning is one of the most significant factors that influence reading comprehension” (p. xiv)
  • “There are more than 100 definitions of the word run.” (p. 7)
  • “So how is a GPS like a dictionary?  They are both resources that guide us to a destination.  They both are more effective if you know a little bit about where you are going when you start the journey.  They can both take you to an incorrect place, and it’s always helpful to have someone else along for the journey.” (p. 9)
  • “Word knowledge is not an all-or-nothing proposition, like a switch that turns a light on or off.  A better analogy is that of a dimmer switch that gradually supplies an increasingly richer supply of light.” (p. 25)

dimmerThe authors provide a three-word mnemonic for different forms of vocabulary teaching – Flood, Fast, Focus.

  • Flood – consciously flood your classroom with words related to your topic of study.
  • Fast – words where an easy definition or analogy will build on the knowledge the students already have.
  • Focus – words where deeper, semantically rich teaching of a new concept is required

Here are their guidelines for teaching an individual word:

  1. Make sure students see and can pronounce the word.
  2. Provide a kid-friendly definition
  3. Present and oral and written context (using visuals when possible)
  4. Ask students for a semantic response.
  5. Have students use words in speech and writing.

This book is great for classroom teachers as it provides a variety of examples on how to teach vocabulary throughout the day in all subjects.  My position as a reading specialist limits me from using all the great techniques.

These are 3 activities from this book that I want to try next year:

  • Student Word Squares (p. 58) – Yes, this is just the Frayer Model.  I see it everywhere that vocabulary is mention SO this is tell me to use it more!  In the book they combine examples in the bottom left box and leave the bottom right box for drawings.


  • Vocab-o-gram (p. 59) – The example provided in the book used the narrative text structure: Characters, Setting, Problem/Goal, What Might Happen, Resolution, and Mystery Words.  These words are set in a table (like the one shown below).  Students read the book and write down vocabulary words important to each story element.  The teacher also gives each student 2 words to locate while reading and determine the meanings.  The Vocab-o-gram is then used to guide the group discussion.  Finally students can use the vocab-o-gram to help them write a summary of the whole book or just a section.


  • Possible Sentences (p. 63) – In this activity you present students with a list of important words they will see in a book (8-12 words is optimal).  Make sure students can pronounce the words.  Then students are asked to write as many words as possible in sentences.  Sentences are shared but not corrected in the group before reading.  Students read the text.  After reading students review the sentences by writing a C next to sentences confirmed in the text and a A next to sentences that need to be adjusted.

As you can see this small book (82 pages) is packed with information!  If anyone would like to borrow the book just let me know!

Also, if anyone has a copy of any of these other books in the series (and are willing to let me borrow them) please let me know:

  • No More Phonics and Spelling Worksheets
  • No More Sharpening Pencils During Work Time and Other Time Wasters
  • No More Summer Reading Loss
  • No More Taking Away Recess and Other Problematic Discipline Practices

I would love to read all of the books!


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