3 Tips for Core Vocabulary and Paraprofessionals


Paraprofessionals are one of the most important pieces to have a successful core vocabulary program.  Paraprofessionals typically have more contact time with a single student than the teacher.

Therefore,  they have more opportunities to model, instruct, and implement the core vocabulary program- so be sure to get them on board and involved!

1) Teach them how to use core vocabulary!

Just like you had to learn about core vocabulary, teach them! They need to buy-in to a new system, but it is easier if they have the knowledge.  With teaching them, they will also become more effective at instructing students.

Teach them what you have learned! If you are still learning, here is a blog post to give you a starting point to learning all about core vocabulary!


2) Reuse materials.

Students need to generalize skills to other instructors to ensure they will use the skills in various scenarios.  It is also difficult to continually create materials for yourself and your paraprofessionals (especially if you have several)!

A tip for this is to plan for the paraprofessionals to reuse materials that were done in a group with you.  For example, I love to use printable books to work on reading and core words. I print off these books as well as the core word images.  I make sure they match the image on the students’ device and then the students glue in the core word by the printed word.  After, we read the book together and the student will be visually prompted to say the word on their device.

I also use adapted books in my reading groups like the one below.  Just like with the paper books, once they have worked on it with me, I have them work on it with the paraprofessionals.

This is great for generalization, extra practice, and reusing materials!

3) Model for paraprofessionals

As many of us did not have course work on core vocabulary, paraprofessionals may not have either.  It is a skill to learn how to use a device, how to model only one or two words when talking, and how to encourage students to use the word of the week.  Therefore, it is important to show them what to do. Do not have them guess- like I always say, they are not mind readers! This will only lead to frustration for everyone.  

Show them how you would teach the student.  Have them sit right with you as you go through how you would like them to teach a lesson. I find this is the most effective way in demonstrating the precise language and pace you would like them to use.

It is imperative to have everyone on board to teach core vocabulary.  Communication cannot be taught in a 30 minute speech session.  I know, as special education teachers, we have so much on our plates.  That is why I have made many books for different core vocabulary words.  Check out all of the editable ones here!  Core vocabulary is something that can be incorporated into our teaching and make our students successful!

Let me know how these tips work for you!

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