Teaching academic vocabulary
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Teaching academic vocabulary. Ellen Douglas October 19, 2009. Activity : Vocabulary Quilt . Fold paper into 8 parts—hamburger-hamburger-hamburger Unfold

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Teaching academic vocabulary l.jpg

Teaching academic vocabulary

Ellen Douglas

October 19, 2009

Activity vocabulary quilt l.jpg
Activity : Vocabulary Quilt

  • Fold paper into 8 parts—hamburger-hamburger-hamburger

  • Unfold

  • Write one of these terms on each square:BICS/ CALP/ academic vocabulary/ Tier 2 words/ mini-novela/ multi-dimensional word knowledge/ incremental word knowledge/ false cognate

  • Take 3-4 minutes to write any knowledge or association you have with each term. Don’t talk to others at your table just yet!

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From the research—why do we need to teach vocabulary?

  • 1st grade children from higher income groups knew about twice as many words as lower income children (Graves, Brunetti & Slater, 1982; Graves & Slater, 1987)

  • Others found that 3 year olds of higher income groups knew as much as five times as many words as their lower-income peers (Hart & Risley, 1995)

  • High school seniors near the top of their class knew 4 times as many words as lower-performing classmates (Smith, 1941)

  • High-knowledge 3rd graders had vocabularies about equal to lowest-performing 12th graders (Smith, 1941)

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From the research—what can teaching vocabulary do?

  • Vocabulary instruction had a strong relation to text comprehension for 4th grade students (McKeown, Beck, Omanson, and Perfetti; 1983)

  • Pre-teaching vocabulary words had a significant effect on retention and acquisition of social studies content (Carney, Anderson, Blackburn, and Blessings; 1984)

  • Meta-analysis showed that vocabulary instruction was important for text comprehension (Stahl and Fairbanks, 1986)

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Some recommendations from the National Reading Panel (2000)

  • Teach vocabulary directly.

  • Expose students to vocabulary items many times.

  • Offer rich contexts for vocabulary learning.

  • Make sure students are actively engaged in vocabulary learning tasks.

  • Make sure they understand why and what they’re doing when learning vocabulary. Restructure the task as necessary (esp. effective for low-achievers)

  • Make use of computer technology.

  • Offer a variety of vocabulary instruction methods.

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How to choose what words to teach:Beck, McKeown, Kucan (“Bringing Vocabulary to Life” 2002)

  • Tier 1 words: most common words: “clock” “baby”

  • Tier 3 words: low frequency, limited to specific domains: “refinery” “isotope” etc.

  • Tier 2 words: everything in between: “introduce” “coincidence” “fortunate”

    • High frequency—high utility—found across a variety of domains

    • Good instructional potential—can work with them in a variety of ways

    • Students already have a general idea of the concept—you’re giving them a more precise term for it (have to/ required; lucky/ fortunate; kind/ benevolent)

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Problems with tiered vocabulary

  • It’s all relative…

  • English learners need to learn a lot (maybe even most!) of what are Tier 1 words for native speakers

  • …still, as Beck says:

    • “Thinking in terms of tiers is just a starting point—a way of framing the task of choosing candidate words for instruction.”

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Tiered vocabulary activity

  • Have a look at the non-fiction book from your grade-level’s curriculum

  • As a grade-level team, pick out what you would consider Tier 2 vocabulary for your grade level—but be sure to consider your English learners!

  • In 5 minutes, we’ll share out what we come up with

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Other research tidbits from Nagy and Scott, 2000

  • Word knowledge is incremental (students need many exposures to learn some words)

  • Word knowledge is multi-dimensional (words can have many different meanings and functions)

  • Word knowledge is interrelated (if you know one word you can sometimes figure others out by extension, e.g. urban/ suburban). (And note: Cognates can be useful, but watch out for false cognates!)

  • Turn to your neighbor: think of words that are multi-dimensional or interrelated

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Marzano's 6 steps for vocabulary instruction

  • Provide a description, explanation, or example of the new term. If working with ELL students the teacher should first provide the description in the native language and a visual representation of the word.

  • Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words. ELL students may write their definition in their native language.

  • Ask students to construct a picture, symbol, or graphic of the term. This activity is critical for ELL students. (Alisha Das: Add kinesthetic element to the definition!)

  • Engage students every other week in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms.

  • Every other week ask students to discuss the terms with one another.

  • Once a week involve students in games that allow them to play with the terms.

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Kinesthetic activity

  • Pick a concept from any of your curricula and devise a way to demonstrate it kinesthetically to your students (5 minutes to devise)

  • Share with everyone!

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Let’s look at ELLs some more

  • BICS vs CALP

    • BICS: Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills: language of the playground—conversational language. Picked up quickly and easily.

    • CALP: Cognitive and Academic Language Proficiency: language of the classroom. Requires a lot of cognitive processing and takes many years to master.

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BICS/CALP activity

  • 3 or 4 volunteers

  • Tell a chain story about the last fire drill we had

  • Now tell about the process of photosynthesis…

  • …without using words that begin with p, l, t, or s

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Academic language

  • Academic language is what we need to focus on in vocabulary instruction

  • Academic vocabulary is the vocabulary critical to understanding the concepts of the content taught in schools.

  • Can include content vocabulary, but it also includes terms that span the content areas

    • “compare/contrast” vs “water cycle”

    • Check out some academic word lists

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Finally: ideas from Socorro Herrera

  • Need to consider a student’s cultural background

    • What are the home culture’s attitudes towards learning?

    • What kind of access does the student have to learning about this subject—i.e., what kinds of experiences are they likely to be able to have?

    • What are the funds of knowledge that the child brings with her to school—e.g., what experience does she already have with the subject?

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More from Herrera

  • Reinforcing the different kinds of memory and learning styles:

    • Sensory or short term memory: find a way to activate background knowledge to make the most of sensory memory

    • Working memory: You can do activities while they’re learning that will reinforce the concept

    • Long-term or permanent memory: Prove they own the concept!

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Even more from Herrera

  • This translates into before, during and after activities, e.g.:

    • Vocabulary Quilt: activates background knowledge and gets the sensory memory going

    • Vocabulary cards, kinesthetic movements: reinforces the concept

    • And finally, a strategy for highlighting permanent ownership: the mini-novela

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Mini-novela activity

Fold along all lines first (hamburger-hamburger-hamburger), then open up and fold in half along blue line (hamburger) to cut through the red dotted line. Open up and fold along the green line (hot dog), and push so the cut section opens like a mouth. Keep pushing so the pages make a plus sign, then fold into book.

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  • Have a look at some of the resources listed within and at the end of this presentation

  • Try at least one vocabulary activity before we meet again (November 2).

  • Remember: Tier 2 words, before-during-after activities

  • Write up a brief reflection of how the activity went, what you would do differently, and what more you want to know.

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  • “A Focus on Vocabulary”Excellent, thorough article about teaching vocabulary

  • Wordsmyth—kid-friendly definitions

  • Wordsift—definitions, images, and a thesaurus. Great for planning and introducing a concept

  • Academic vocabulary teaching site for Tennessee educators. Check out their games! They’re phenomenal!

  • Academic word lists from Illinois district U-46. Lots of useful vocabulary teaching items here.

  • My Delicious vocabulary links

  • “Vocabulary development with ELLs” from Reading Rockets

  • Reading Rockets vocabulary page with video of Beck and others

  • Southwest Vocabulary wiki