Academic Language: The Gateway to Student Achievement Fall 2013 -2014 Susan Gordon Short Version! Gaithersburg High School
Outcomes: • Define academic vocabulary and student discourse as key components of instruction at Gaithersburg High School and access to Common Core. • Explain the interdependent relationship between academic language development and academic achievement.
GHS 2013 – 2014Instructional Focus • Students needto use and apply academic language and structured academic discourse to problem solve and think critically. • Teachers will provide explicit academic vocabulary instruction and structured academic student discourse, in each lesson sequence.
The Role of Vocabulary Knowledge in English learner School Success …..Vocabulary knowledge is the single best predictor of second language learners’ academic achievement across subject matter domains .” (For over 40% of GHS students English is their second language) Saville-Troike (1984) What really matters in second language learning for academic achievement
Title I and the Vocabulary Gap U. S. Preschoolers Vocabulary Exposure • College-educated professional families: 2, 250 words • Not college-educated, working class families: 1, 250 words • Welfare families: 620 words Flynn, James R. (2008) Where Have All the Liberals Gone? Race, Class and Ideals in America. Cambridge University Press: 102.
Expressive Word Knowledge • Words we understand and can use comfortably and competently in spoken and written communication • Smaller than receptive word knowledge • When limited it can be stigmatizing during advanced academic and social interactions and discourse.
Key Academic Vocabulary • Academicis an adjective that refers to the subjects we learn in school and the content material we acquire through listening to instructions and lectures in school and reading text with technical words. Academic also refers to the thinking processes students use to talk and write about the content that they learn. Vocabulary is a noun. Vocabulary is a synonym for word or set of words. Therefore, the term academic vocabulary refers to the words or phrases that students must acquire and express (in speech and writing) to comprehend the language of instruction and lectures, the technical words in text, and words that describe the thinking processes and functions of school. • Examples of academic vocabulary related to the language of classroom instruction are when teachers say: You will compose the first paragraph of a five paragraph essay that includes a thesis statement, a hook and conclusion. The verb compose and the nouns: paragraph, essay thesis, statement, hook and conclusion can all be considered academic vocabulary.
Academic Vocabulary, cont. • An example of academic vocabulary produced during teacher lectures may include the following: Today we will examine the root causes of the Civil War that are related to the economic situation in the United States during the early 1800’s. The academic vocabulary found in this sentence include: examine, causes, economic and situation. These same words would be the academic vocabulary identified from text on the same subject. However, Civil war is considered a technical academic vocabulary word that has a specific relationship to the study of social studies • Examples of academic vocabulary that students use to express thinking skills are those function words related to Bloom’s taxonomy: describe, discuss, explain, debate, compare, analyze, synthesize, etc. • Finally, each content area has technical vocabulary that is specific to the content area. Examples in art are composition, depth, perspective; in ELA figurative language; Social Studies democracy, treaty, economy, society; Science; cell,
What does explicit vocabulary instruction mean? • Explicit is an adjective. • Explicit means specific, precise and clear • When a teacher provides explicit vocabulary instruction students know exactly which words are the most important to learn and they are given clear and precise definitions and examples.
What is student discourse? Student discourse – Discourse is a noun. Student discourse refers to the need for students to learn and produce academic speech and writing that is content-specific, organized, varied and often complex. Why is it important to specifically teach and encourage student discourse in your classrooms?
Academic Vocabulary and Student Discourse Just like you have been witnessing the building of the new GHS brick by brick, students build academic language from academic words, to grammatically correct sentences spoken in an academic register, to discourse which is complex organized and more lengthy. Students build academic language brick by brick until they are able to sustain complex student discourse.
Plan the Academic Language for a Lesson • Consider and list what essential academic vocabulary (words) that you will explicitly teach • Consider and write the precise definitions you will provide for the students. (sentences) • Consider the explicit student discourse (speaking/writing) that you will model and have students generate related to the vocabulary and concepts developed during the lesson or group of lessons.
How to Identify Words that Warrant Robust Instruction? • Big idea words that relate to lesson concepts • High-utility academic toolkit words • High utility disciplinary toolkit words • Words to competently discuss a lesson topic • Stereotype, outsourcing, fossil fuel • consequence, issue analyze • Economy, metaphor, species • Words relevant to discussing the theme or issues not in the text (esp. with literature)
Planning Academic language for a lesson Word -Academic Vocabulary Example Plane A plane refers to a flat surface that extends on in all directions forever and must consist of three points that are not all on the same line. Academic Vocabulary: Words that describe an idea, process or technical word from the content area
Planning Academic language for a lesson Sentence Exemplar This diagram accurately represents a plane because… However, the other diagram is not a plane because…. Sentence/s that model how to use the word for written and oral practice in an academic register
Planning Academic language for a lesson Discourse Exemplar This diagram appropriately represents a plane because a plane extends in all directions without end. In addition, two out of three of the points in this diagram are not on the same line, another characteristic of a plane. The other diagram does not exhibit the essential characteristics of a plane. • Sentence frames model language for a speaking or writing assignment with specific academic vocabulary and language targets written in an academic register.