Photograph left to right: Back row: Ann Bates, Char Cieply, Camille Blachowicz (NLU), Colleen Kelly (D65), Angie Kaczkowski (NLU). Front Row: Vanessa Herrera, Julia Starenko, Carol Clay, Marie Chang-Pisano (D65)

Five School District 65 teachers at Washington school, and their students, are participating in the third year of a federally funded research study which is investigating ways for fourth- and fifth- grade teachers to structure comprehensive approaches to vocabulary instruction in their classrooms. This year special educators are also involved in the instruction. 

            District 65 is one of three sites that has been re-funded by the Institute of Educational Sciences as part of a larger study directed by Dr. James Baumann of the University of Missouri.  The Evanston site is directed by Dr. Camille Blachowicz of National-Louis University with the assistance of Drs. Ann Bates and Char Cieply. The District was chosen because of the highly qualified teaching staffs and because of the excellence of its work with multilingual and multicultural student populations, said Dr. Blachowicz.

            Washington teachers Carol Clay, Colleen Kelly, Vanessa Herrera, Julia Starenko and special educator Marie Chang-Pisano are providing examples of the ways that teachers can integrate the four essential components of vocabulary instruction into their classroom routines, said Dr. Blachowicz. The model proposes a four-component approach: ensuring rich language experiences; intentional teaching of individual words; building word learning strategies and developing word consciousness (interest in words and knowledge of how they work), she said.

Both fourth- and fifth-grade participating classes have made significant gains on the Gates-Macginitie Standardized reading test as well as on the constructed assessments of vocabulary that have a high degree of reliability and validity, said Dr. Blachowicz.

            “Washington School’s participation in this project has positively influenced our professional growth and instruction,” said Washington school principal Kate Ellison. “I am impressed with the high levels of collaboration, reflection and intentional instruction that are the direct result of this research partnership with National Louis. I am certain that these efforts are making a positive impact on student achievement at Washington School.”