En route to the IRA Leadership Conference 2014 in Tampa, I stopped in San Francisco in order to interview our IRA colleague, Dr. Judith Scott. Judy has been a member of The International Reading Association for her entire career. She garnered a strong reputation with B.C. educators during her 9 years as an Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University during from 1991-2000. She worked closely with B.C. teachers in asking the question: “How do children learn new words and how does it impact their literacy development?” She also worked tirelessly to develop the Early Literacy Network in B.C., on the writing of Reading 44, a program developed in the North Vancouver district and used widely in B.C. and as a member of the Lower Mainland Council of the IRA (LOMCIRA). Then on a more personal note, she was also my senior supervisor and provided invaluable mentorship during the writing of my Masters thesis and preparation for my defence.
Dr. Scott has been teaching at University of California-Santa Cruz for the past 14 years and has continued her research on vocabulary development. She has managed to secure $5,000,000 in grants to develop the experimental and scientific research focusing on vocabulary development, word consciousness, assessment of vocabulary, computer assisted vocabulary development, analytical writing and critical reading. She cites her most significant findings have been :
- The work started in B.C. holds true with first year and veteran teachers
- The vocabulary development strategies worked effectively with English Language learners in culturally diverse areas with high poverty as well as typical learners.
In a study with 15,000 students in California, her team was able to develop a reliable and valid multi-dimensional vocabulary test to provide diagnostic information to assist teachers in developing programs to response to specific student needs. Check out the Vine Consortium website for lessons plans and ideas to work with Grade 4/5/6 students.
Judy’s passion for vocabulary instruction has also taken her to New Zealand as a keynote at the 2010 World Congress as well as Tasmania and Canberra to present to teachers at the invitation of the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association , an affiliate of the IRA. Her work has been instrumental in creating the research base to validate the strategies widely used by teachers in British Columbia and present them as strong practices to benefit all learners.