Examines how four exemplary teachers of junior classes in two primary schools went about supporting the vocabulary development of their students during shared reading.
An analysis of recent PERLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) data has shown that a group of New Zealand children are struggling to learn to read well. Vocabulary knowledge supports reading in a number of ways and research shows that reading to children and discussing texts with them helps support the development of vocabulary knowledge. This study sought to examine how four exemplary teachers of junior classes in two primary schools went about supporting the vocabulary development of their students during shared reading. The teachers completed a questionnaire and were then observed undertaking 30 shared reading lessons. They were then interviewed about their perceptions regarding vocabulary support during shared reading. Results showed that on average these teachers committed over 20% of their shared reading sessions to vocabulary development during shared reading, although there was some variation between teachers. These teachers supported their students learning of word meanings via a balanced range of avenues for acquiring vocabulary and used a rich and varied range of instructional methods to convey and secure vocabulary knowledge during shared reading. The teachers indicated that they believed that shared reading was an important context for providing support for vocabulary and that providing support for vocabulary in a balanced range of ways was important. Results are discussed in relation to recent literature pertaining to vocabulary acquisition and supporting the vocabulary development of children while reading to them.