The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 1 - Page 21

Content Area Vocabulary:

Using the Frayer Model to Increase Vocabulary Understanding


It takes little planning to implement independent reading time once procedures are established. We make time every day in our classroom for Boushey and Moser’s (2014) Daily Five, including Reading to Self time, which lasts anywhere between 15-30 minutes, depending on the reading stamina of the class. It is one of my students’ favorite parts of the day when they can grab a pillow, sit on the floor or under a desk and get lost in a book that they chose.

Another way I differentiated instruction was by providing my whole class with various spelling lists. Based on results of a Richard Gentry’s(1985) developmental spelling test that was taken at the beginning of the year, students are grouped into different levels. Although the words follow the same pattern (for example long –a words), the difficulty of the words varies. In the previous school year, my student was given the lowest difficulty test and still failed almost every single time. This year, he did not have this option. I informed him from the first week that I believed he could spell the words on the grade-level list and set the expectations for him at a high level. No more saying “I can’t” or “I’m too stupid.” Failure was no longer an option for him. You can imagine my elation when I scored his second spelling test at 101%. He not only spelled every word correct, but also spelled one of the harder bonus words correctly, too! I will never forget the look of surprise, then pride on his face when I showed him his graded test. I told him to take it immediately to our principal’s office so she could see just how amazing of a speller he was. Something clicked. Since that first test, he has made A’s on every spelling test except one where he received a B. This student was used to seeing a F every single time, so the B was also a huge accomplishment. Each week he now asks me if he can show his former teachers and the principal his spelling tests. He walks differently. He acts differently. He is succeeding!

Not every day is easy. And, undoubtedly, there will be days when his performance does not match his potential. But I am confident that by continuing to provide him with authentic and meaningful literacy tasks, tailored to his needs, he will continue to feel and be a successful learner. My ultimate hope is that my very special “lost cause” will never live up to that label.

Shannon Truitt is a second grade teacher at Forsyth Elementary in Forsyth, MO. This is her eighth year teaching, but her first in second grade. She previously taught kindergarten for seven years at Forsyth.


Boushey, G. & Moser, J. (2014). The daily 5: Fostering literacy independence in the lower elementary grades. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Carlson, A.M. What is differentiated instruction? Examples, definitions, and activities. Retrieved on February 12, 2016 from:

Ford, M. & Opitz, M. (2011). Looking back to move forward with guided reading. Reading Horizons, 50(4).

Gentry, R. (1985). You can analyze developmental spelling…and here’s how to do it!Early Years K-8. May, 1985. Routman, R. (2003). Reading Essentials: The specifics you need to teach reading well. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Perhaps one of the most critical things that occurred for my student was differentiation. Providing a lot of independent reading time is naturally differentiated and incredibly powerful (Boushey & Moser, 2014).