Vocabulary instruction is one of my weak areas. I don't pick out a certain number of words to teach every week. Instead it happens on the fly, most often during a read-aloud. I'm not nearly intentional enough, and I haven't developed a system for ways to follow up and authentically internalize those words either. I've got some work to do. (I do have my eye on a great professional read called Words Nerds though. Maybe that will help.) I'm also aware of the times when I'm guilty of barging through a book and not allowing the time and space to even let kids know they should speak up about possible confusions. I'm working on this and Regie's voice in my head definitely helps.
She reminds me to say things like, "Smart kids know when they don't understand a word." Recently I've been purposely choosing read-alouds that force them to speak up about unknown vocabulary. First I ask my kids to show their comprehension fingers, a strategy I learned years ago from Mosaic of Thought by Ellin Keene and Susan Zimmermann. One finger means they understand, and two means they don't. As soon as I see two fingers, I know to stop. "What does 'famine' mean?" My typical response sounds something like, "Thank you for asking. That's so smart of you to speak up." Of course, learning and using strategies for figuring out tricky words is another story and one we've been practicing as well. First and foremost though, when I repeatedly tell my kids that the most important thing a reader does is understand, I'd better back that up every time a book is opened in my room with the knowledge, expectation, and invitation that readers know when they don't know a word and are so smart to do something about it.