Literacy Training Spring 2020

Vocabulary Maps See Self-Generated Questions 2019 »


What: The Vocabulary Map is a teacher-completed, graphic organizer used to preteach unfamiliar, conceptually important words prior to reading a text. Teachers can familiarize students with essential words using the Vocabulary Map in a quick five-minute lesson. On the Vocabulary Map, the teacher identifies a cognate for the word, student-friendly definition, visual representation, synonyms, use in context, and turn and talk prompts to engage students in oral language use.

Why: Explicit vocabulary instruction is beneficial in developing reading skills, academic vocabulary, and building meaning from text (Kamil et al., 2008; Hattie, 2009). It is especially critical for struggling readers who haven't built robust vocabularies from extensive reading and who struggle to utilize contextual clues to decipher word meaning (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002). Studies have shown middle school reading interventions that include the preteaching of essential vocabulary words activate background knowledge and build vocabulary and text comprehension (Vaughn et al., 2013; Swanson et al., 2015).

How: CALI Reads participants will learn how implement Vocabulary Maps through the online training module via CALI Learns.

Who: The Vocabulary Maps Training Program is available for CALI Reads Participants in spring 2020. The Training Program will be made free to the public the following semester through the CALI Reads Learning Library.

When: Spring 2020

instructor instructor


Vocabulary Maps Walkthrough Tool

~Coming soon~


Use the Vocabulary Map Walkthrough Tool during classroom walkthroughs to:

  • Identify key instructional Look-Fors important to Vocabulary Maps instruction
  • Give formative teacher feedback and help instructional refinement
  • Guide productive coaching conversations
  • Inform additional training needs

This tool is available in paper form by downloading the pdf or digitally through the digiCOACH app - free to CALI Reads participants.


Other Related Resources

IRIS Center

Middle School Matters



Beck, I., McKeown, M. G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary development. New York: Guilford.

Hattie, J. (2009). The contributions from teaching approaches-part 1. J. Hattie.(Eds.), Visible learning: A synthesis of over, 800, 161-199.

Kamil, M. L., Borman, G. D., Dole, J., Kral, C. C., Salinger, T., & Torgesen, J. (2008). Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices. IES Practice Guide. NCEE 2008-4027. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.

Swanson, E., Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Roberts, G., & Fall, A. M. (2015). Improving reading comprehension and social studies knowledge among middle school students with disabilities. Exceptional Children, 81(4), 426-442.

Vaughn, S., Swanson, E. A., Roberts, G., Wanzek, J., Stillman‐Spisak, S. J., Solis, M., & Simmons, D. (2013). Improving reading comprehension and social studies knowledge in middle school. Reading Research Quarterly, 48(1), 77-93.


Relevant Common Core State Standards: Anchor Standards for Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use


Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.


CALI Reads is a project funded by the Office of Special Education in partnership with the California Department of Education, Special Education Division. The project is coordinated and administered through the

Napa County Office of Education
1450 Technology Lane, Suite 200 Petaluma, CA 94954
Fax: 707-762-1438 | e-mail:

Napa County Office of Education
U.S. Offic of Special Education Programs
California Department of Education

The contents of this website were developed under a State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG) from the US Department of Education (CALI/Award #H323A170011), Project Officer, However, the contents of this site not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.


Last updated: 01/22/2020