Why Teach Word Associations?

As speech-language pathologists, we recognize the significance of  providing direct vocabulary instruction for students who have language impairments on a weekly basis. Students need to improve their receptive and expressive vocabulary skills so that they can improve their functional communication, listening comprehension, reading comprehension, and overall understanding of their grade level curriculum.
Teaching word associations is essential to students’ vocabulary acquisition and understanding of word relationships.

What are the advantages of teaching word associations?

1) increases receptive and expressive vocabulary skills
2) increases students’ abilities to understand and explain similarities/differences
3) prerequisite skill for students to understand grade level/curriculum level compare and contrast activities
4) prerequisite skill for students to understand word relationships in analogies that requires students to use basic level deductive reasoning skills
5) supports common core English/Language Arts standards
6) reinforces skill of categorization that requires students to sort items into groups, name items according to group, identify/name items that don’t belong in a group
7) increases understanding of age level, grade level, and curriculum vocabulary
8) research supports direct instruction of word associations

Evidence based practice

Research supports the need for direct vocabulary instruction. Marzano (2004) agrees that there is a strong case for the importance and usefulness of direct vocabulary instruction. He states “the research indicates that wide reading probably is not sufficient in itself to ensure that students will develop the necessary vocabulary and consequently the necessary academic background knowledge to do well in school. In contrast, direct vocabulary instruction has an impressive track record of improving students’ background knowledge and the comprehension of academic content.”  

What resources can SLPs and teachers use to address these skills?

Word Associations Baseline and Progress Check Data Forms: Grades 1- 5
Available in my TPT store: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Associations-Baseline-Progress-Check-Data-Forms

This packet includes baseball themed data collection forms for SLPs or teachers to record students’ accuracy of naming word associations. Students play a baseball game by choosing a player and take turns hitting the baseballs by naming 2 associated words for each target word. If they get a question right, they get a mini baseball to put on their baseball field. If they miss the question, they “hit” a foul ball and the SLP gets the ball. If they answer approximately 15-20 questions correctly, they safely make a “run” by making it to home base and collect enough baseballs to fill up the path.

The Packet includes the following pages:
1) Cover page
2) Instructions page
3) Boy and girl baseball players; custom made illustrations for BSL Speech Language
4) Baseball field custom made graphics for BSL Speech Language
5) 2 pages of different size custom made baseball graphics for BSL Speech Language
6) 2 General Associations lists (Grades 1-3)
7) 1 Language Arts Associations List (Grades 3-5)
8) 1 Science Associations List (Grades 3-5)
9) 1 Social Studies Associations List (Grades 3-5)

No Glamour Vocabulary book by Linguisystems, Inc.

Monday Update: 3/4/13
Today in language therapy, I reviewed word associations with 2 of my 3rd grade groups. First, I reviewed the meanings of word associations. Then, I did a mini lesson and guided practice activity. I listed basic words such as dog, apple, and bookbag and had them name associated words as I wrote them on a mini dry erase board. Then, I had them look at our “word wall” of language arts words that had story vocabulary listed (e.g. character, character traits, author, illustrator, narrator, etc.). I asked them: What is the category or topic of  these vocabulary words? My students required prompting to answer, so I asked them exclusionary questions: Are these math vocabulary? Are these science vocabulary? Are these social studies vocabulary? Are these language arts vocabulary? After that, I modeled making a graphic organizer to review the lesson and we used markers to make the vocabulary more visually appealing (plus using markers are more fun!!). Here is the one I created:

Additional Resources to teach word associations:

Help for Word Finding book by Linguisystems, Inc.

Pair Ups Association Cards by Linguisystems, Inc.

I PAD app Word to Word by MochiBits: best used with 4th, 5th, and middle school students

Numerous TPT resources created by SLPs

* For those that love using technology, I suggest saving a selection of frequently used TPT activities in iBooks on your IPAD for easy access in speech-language therapy sessions. I recently started doing this and it is a great addition and time saver!! 

*I suggest purchasing/adding Pocket Game Super Pack by Danielle Reed in iBook. The activity has activities to address word associations via analogies that target action/object, characteristics, location, and part/whole analogies

* I suggest purchasing/adding Rachel Lynette’s tasks cards for analogies in iBook and printing/laminating to create a file folder activity


What educational resources do you use to teach word associations?

Kindly share your comments!! Thanks for visiting the blog today. 

Reference

Marzano, R. (2004).
Building background knowledge for academic achievement: research on   

          what works in the schools.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum    
          Development.

Comment (4)

  • Joy Mast| June 25, 2013

    Thanks so much for these ideas. I'm an SLP who typically works with preschoolers. I have an elementary school aged student for the summer and am looking for some ideas.

    • BSLSpeechLanguage| July 24, 2013

      Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm glad you found the information useful. Check out my other posts about teaching multiple meaning words in language therapy. I have some great suggestions and products available for purchase and freebies as well.

  • Adi| January 14, 2016

    Great post, thank you. Do you have suggestions for writing a vocabulary/semantics goal that includes word associations?

  • BSLSpeechLanguage| January 16, 2016

    Hey there. Here are 2:

    When given a Tier I basic vocabulary word,______ will name 2 word associations ( e.g. peanut butter…bread, jelly)with 80% accuracy in 3 sessions.

    When given a Tier 3 E/LA curriculum word, _____ will name 2 word associations with 80 % accuracy in 3 sessions ( e.g. parts of speech…noun verb)

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