Chapter 3. Vocabulary Development

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1 Chapter 3. Vocabulary Development Why Teach Vocabulary Development? Effective vocabulary instruction is critical for increasing students academic achievement. Educational researchers have shown for years that vocabulary knowledge plays a significant role in reading comprehension. Robert Marzano also notes the importance of vocabulary development for building background knowledge, and thereby increasing students opportunities to learn new concepts. This is especially important for social studies, as 55 percent of students academic vocabulary comes from social studies disciplines: history, geography, government and economics. Although wide reading increases students vocabulary significantly, direct and explicit instruction in vocabulary is also an important component of learning vocabulary. What are the Vocabulary Tiers? Tier 1 words are basic, common words that most students know from everyday conversation. These are high-frequency terms and do not typically have multiple meanings. Tier 2 words are high-frequency terms that occur across multiple content area/school subjects. The Common Core State Standards refers to these as general academic words. These words typically have multiple meanings and important for reading comprehension of informational texts. Tier two words are important words for direct instruction. Tier 3 words are domain specific; meaning they apply to a specific content area/school subject. These words are critical to understanding key social studies concepts. It is important for Tier 3 words not to be separated from their context. Table 1A. Three Tiers of Vocabulary Examples Tier 1 Common Words book car color house number run sad school street tall Tier 2 General Academic Words analysis decline defend emerge evaluate function impact perspectives priority structure Tier 3 Social Studies Domain Specific Words appeasement colonization cultural diffusion democracy economics environment federalism feudalism imperialism primary source 21

2 What Strategies Are Effective for Vocabulary Development? Vocabulary development strategies must go beyond traditional methods of looking up dictionary definitions, flash card drills, fill-in-the-blank worksheets, and weekly vocabulary quizzes. In Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement, Marzano details a six-step process for building students academic vocabulary. Steps 1-3 are used to introduce new term to students. Steps 4-6 are designed for students to review these terms Provide a description, explanation, or example of the new term. Student-friendly descriptions, explanations and examples are more effective than dictionary definitions. Teachers should connect terms to something familiar with students. Teachers can use stories, videos, or pictures that illustrate the terms. 2. Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words. It is important that students use their own words instead of just copying what the teacher has said. 3. Ask students to construct a picture, symbol, or graphic representing the term or phrase. Pictures, symbols, and graphic representations require students to process information in non-linguistic ways. Pictowords can be used to illustrate challenging social studies concepts. Table 3B. Pictoword Examples Tier 2 General Academic Words Tier 3 Social Studies Domain Specific Words 23 Marzano, Robert J., Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement. (Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2004),

3 4. Engage students periodically in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their notebook. Students can compare and contrast terms, classify terms, identify antonyms and synonyms, and create analogies and metaphors using the terms. 5. Periodically ask students to discuss the terms with one another. Students can work in pairs or small groups to share their descriptions or pictures, compare points of agreement or disagreement, and share new ideas about the terms. 6. Involve students periodically in games that allow them to play with terms. Word games can increase student engagement and provide students with multiple exposures to terms. Table 3C. Word Activities and Games for Steps 5 and 6 Activity Title Vocabulary Cubes Concept Sort Pictionary Password Taboo Scattergories Description Select a set of words from the word wall and place them on the board. Students take turns rolling the cube and responding to the questions on the cube: 1) How does this term relate to you? 2) How does this term relate to social studies? 3) How would you teach this term to someone else? 3) What are some synonyms? 4) What are some antonyms? 5) What pictures or symbols help you remember the meaning of this term? 6) What clues in the term help you remember the meaning? Place notecards with vocabulary terms from a unit in an envelope. Working in pairs, students take turn takes pulling out a card and giving their description or explanation. As each card is pulled, students identify what the term has in common with the previous terms. At the end, students create word clusters and assign titles to each cluster. Place notecards with vocabulary terms in a hat. Divide into two teams. Teams alternate pulling terms from a hat. The drawer creates pictures that represent the term. The pictures cannot contain any numbers or letters. Teammates try to guess the term the drawing represents. Place notecards with vocabulary terms in an envelope. Groups of four students divided into pairs. The facilitator selects a card and show to one student in each pair. The partner who knows the term gives a one word clue. The other partner then offers one guess on the term. Game play alternates between the two teams. Create a set of notecards with vocabulary terms. On each card, write a list of five words or phrases that are closely related ( taboo words) to the vocabulary term. Similar to Password, one partner in a pair provides clues to the other partner. In addition to the key term, the clue provider cannot use the additional taboo words on the cards. Create a slide presentation with one category at the top of each slide. For each category, assign a specific letter of the alphabet. As a slide is displayed, students list vocabulary terms related to the category that start with the assigned letter. 23

4 Marzano also recommends the use of student vocabulary notebooks. Students can use vocabulary notebooks to record their descriptions from Step 2 and their pictures or symbols from Step 3. In Step 4, students can add additional information to their notebooks as they review, discuss, and extend their understanding. The vocabulary organizers below can be used in conjunction with vocabulary notebooks. In Words, Words, Words, Janet Allen discusses the importance of using Word Walls for vocabulary development. When introducing concept-related words or topical categories, the words should be posted so that students can see them and use them in their discussions and writing. 24 Word walls should not be a static room decoration. They can be utilized regularly as part of the six-step process above. Word walls should also be updated with each unit. Terms that have been mastered can be retired to a shoe box. Sarah Brown Wessling uses Vocabulary Paint Chips. The strategy involves using paint strips or chips from the hardware store. Teachers write a vocabulary word on one color of the strip, then write different versions of the word on the other colors, and finally, put synonyms on one of the colors. For example, one paint chip may include illuminate, illumination, illuminating, and the synonyms enlighten and brighten. In this teacher's class, every time a student uses one of the paint chip words in their writing, they can add a sticker to a chart. 25 Table 3D. Sample Social Studies Vocabulary Paint Chips revolution colony monarch revolution colony monarch social revolution colonization monarchy economic revolution colonizer absolute monarch political revolution colonized limited monarch radical subject state emperor 24 Allen, Janet, Words, Words, Words: Teaching Vocabulary in Grades (Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers, 2006.), Learn more about this strategy from the video here: 24

5 What Tools Can Teachers Use for Vocabulary Development? Graphic Organizer 3A. Frayer Model Definition or Explanation in Your Own Words Characteristics Term Examples Non-Examples Graphic Organizer 3B. Word Map Definition in Your Words or Synonyms Antonyms Term Use It Meaningfully in a Sentence Draw a Picture or Symbol 25

6 Graphic Organizer 3C. Concept Map A Framework for Middle and High School Social Studies What is the Meaning? What are some examples? Concept What is it like? Graphic Organizer 3D. Concept Map Connections Context: I will find this concept World: I will connect this concept to Self: I will remember this concept by Concept Description or Explanation 26

7 What Resources Are Available for Vocabulary Development? Publications Allen, Janet, Words, Words, Words: Teaching Vocabulary in Grades Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers, Marzano, Robert J., Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Marzano, Robert J. and Lindsay Carleton, Vocabulary Games for the Classroom, Marzano Research Laboratory, Dugan, Christine, Strategies for Building Academic Vocabulary in Social Studies. Huntington Beach, CA: Shell Education, Websites EdGames, FM Teaching Ideas Vocabulary Game Blank Templates, s_blank_templates.html Reading Quest, Teaching Channel, 27

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