Vocabulary Instruction in the Disciplines


  • Fenice B. Boyd,

  • Mary Pat Sullivan,

  • Jacquelynn S. Popp,

  • Megan Hughes

  • The department editor welcomes reader comments. Fenice B. Boyd is associate dean for teacher education at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, USA; e-mail fboyd@buffalo.edu.


This column explores how literacy practices similarly enacted across disciplines served as a platform for considering collaborative professional development contexts. With current educational policy, content area teachers are expected to include relevant literacy practices within their disciplinary instruction. Based on research across science and history classrooms, general vocabulary development was present during engagement with texts as a stepping-stone to disciplinary practices and embedded within disciplinary learning. Examples of how vocabulary practices were enacted show that similar pedagogical moves supported learning, suggesting that common ground exists across subject areas. This work led to insights about how vocabulary instruction, often bounded within language arts instruction can be enacted within disciplinary instruction. Authors argue learning contexts for content-area teachers should be collaborative and inclusive, with attention on integrated literacy to support disciplinary learning. Vocabulary development is one area universally important across all educational contexts and can form a unifying thread among teachers.