Common Core Standards Response to Intervention (RtI) Special Education ELL/ESL/Dual-Language Classrooms At Home Training

Common Core State Standards

Academic Vocabulary

What Is Academic Vocabulary?

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) define academic vocabulary words as the words that are traditionally used in academic dialogue and text. Specifically, it refers to words that are not necessarily common or that children would encounter in conversation. These words often relate to other more familiar words that students use. For example, rather than watch, observe. They are also words that help students understand oral directions and classroom instructional dialog. They also help students to comprehend text across different content areas- including math, science, and social studies/history.

Academic Vocabulary

Vocabulary words are often categorized into three tiers.

Tier 1 words: These words are basic vocabulary or the more common words most children will know. They include high-frequency words and usually are not multiple meaning words.

Tier 2 words: Less familiar, yet useful vocabulary found in written text and shared between the teacher and student in conversation. The Common Core State Standards refers to these as “general academic words.” Sometimes they are referred to as “rich vocabulary.” These words are more precise or subtle forms of familiar words and include multiple meaning words. Instead of walk for example, saunter could be used. These words are found across a variety of domains.

Tier 3 words: CCSS refers to these words as “domain specific;” they are critical to understanding the concepts of the content taught in schools. Generally, they have low frequency use and are limited to specific knowledge domains. Examples would include words such as isotope, peninsula, refinery. They are best learned when teaching specific content lessons, and tend to be more common in informational text.

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Reaching Common Core State Standards - Academic Vocabulary
October 29, 2013 04:30 pm ET

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Why Is Teaching Academic Vocabulary Important?

Vocabulary’s link to comprehension has been extensively researched and the importance of directly teaching vocabulary has been firmly established. Unfortunately, in recent years the teaching of vocabulary has not been frequent or systematic in schools. The Common Core includes vocabulary instruction and reinforcement in the English Language Arts [ELA] standards. The standards dealing with vocabulary focus on “understanding words and phrases, their relationships, and their nuances and on acquiring new vocabulary.”

The Common Core ELA standards stress the need to provide direct and explicit instruction for academic vocabulary. When teaching voacabulary, it is best not to make students look up words in a dictionary or a glossary and write out the definition. They usually pick the first option, and it often isn’t the right one.

We recommend the 6 steps that Robert Marzano presents in his book Building Academic Vocabulary (2004).

Step 1: Teacher provides a description, explanation or example of the new term
Step 2: Students restate an explantion of the new term in their own words
Step 3: Students create a nonlinguistic representation of the term
Step 4: Students periodically do activities that help add to their knowledge of the vocabulary terms
Step 5: Students are periodically asked to discuss terms with one another
Step 6: Students are periodically involved in games that allow them to review terms

How Do Learning A-Z Resources Support Teaching Academic Vocabulary?

Vocabulary A-Z provides teachers with a vocabulary lesson-generating tool to build lessons with direct and varied instruction on all general, academic and domain specific vocabulary. Teachers can chose from more than 13,000 words to create customized vocabulary lessons or choose from an extensive list of premade lessons. All of our lesson plans include five days of instructional worksheets as well as activities, games and an assessment specific to the lesson’s list of words. A cumulative assessment tool is also available to create customized assessments including words from various lessons.

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