Fall 2017



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Marcia Rockwood

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Molly Schwaiger

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Michael Abraham


English language learners are prevalent in modern American schools, yet educators are often still grappling with how to best teach these unique students. Unsurprisingly, vocabulary plays a fundamental role in reading comprehension. This capstone presents the existing research on the foundational relationship between vocabulary and reading comprehension as well as effective vocabulary instruction for English language learners. The research was then used to design a vocabulary curriculum for a fourth grade thematic literacy unit on Mexican Heritage. The curriculum focuses on four major aspects of vocabulary instruction: 1) the direct instruction of Tier II words, as defined by Isabel Beck; 2) morphological analysis; 3) the use of context clues to determine the meanings of unknown words; and 4) motivational activities to emphasize independent word learning. Though the curriculum and the majority of the corresponding materials were designed with a specific fourth grade unit in mind, the author differentiates for four different reading levels. In addition, generic unit and lesson planning resources for vocabulary instruction are included. From this research and curriculum design project, educators can make vocabulary a focal point in their classrooms and consequently help their students become better readers.

Research Methodology

Curriculum Development


Curriculum, ESL/ ELLs, Reading, Vocabulary

Included in

Education Commons