Thursday , 14 December 2017
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Building Academic Vocabulary

vocab.Robert Marzano and Debra Pickering’s book Building Academic Vocabulary helps us understand the need to utilize a six-step process for teaching new academic terms.   These steps include:

Step 1 – Provide a description, explanation, or example of the new term. (For ESL students, add a nonlinguistic representation.)

  • Instead of having your students look up words in the dictionary to discover word meanings, have your students listen to a story that integrates the term.  Another idea is to have your students investigate the new term and then have them demonstrate the term to the class through a skit or poster.

Step 2 – Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words.

  • During this step, the teacher is not looking for the student to parrot the information related to the term that was given to them by the teacher.  Instead, the student must be able to explain in their own words what the term means.

Step 3 – Ask students to construct a picture, symbol, or graphic representing the term.

  • The students will model this step by drawing pictures that show the students’ understanding of the terms provided to them.  A game of Pictionary could be used in the classroom to help the class understand each of the terms presented.

Step 4 – Engage students periodically in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their notebooks.

  • One strategy that the teacher could have the students involved in during this step is to break apart words into prefixes, suffixes, and root words.  This strategy helps the student understand the meaning of the word or term.

Step 5 – Periodically ask your students to discuss the academic vocabulary with each other. (For ESL students, they can discuss the terms in their own language.)

  • Students will share their own ideas and thoughts related to the academic term(s) that they are studying.  The use of Think-Pair-Share is a strategy to use to get the students to share with partners.

Step 6 – Involve students periodically in games that allow them to play with the terms, and ask students to discuss the terms with one another.

  • During the final step, the students need to be involved in “play” with the terms.  This can be accomplished by playing games like memory, Pictionary, Jeopardy, etc.

When students copy the teacher’s explanation or description of a term instead of generating their own explanation, the results are not as strong. Ideally, student explanations should come from their own lives.

To learn more about how to include vocabulary into your daily lesson plans, click below:


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