- Vocabulary instruction aligns with deep learning by helping students make connections between words and construct meaningful knowledge.
- Vocabulary instruction aligns with higher student achievement by increasing reading skills and comprehension.
- Vocabulary instruction aligns with greater engagement by making reading and comprehension accessible to all learners.
- Vocabulary instruction aligns with well-being because the research shows a strong relationship between vocabulary and intelligence, one’s ability to comprehend new information, and one’s ability to succeed.
What: (Description of the Strategy)
- Vocabulary instruction can be facilitated in a variety of ways but is most effective when it provides both definitional and contextual information, involves students in deeper processing, and gives students multiple exposures to the words they are learning.
- Using a framework like Marzano’s Six-Step Process for Building Academic Vocabulary in combination with graphic organizers like the Frayer Model and collaborative discussion strategies like Think, Pair, Share can provide students with the information, experiences, and opportunities to make meaning of the words or phrases.
- Focusing on fewer vocabulary words and providing multiple exposures to them in a variety of meaningful contexts will have the greatest impact.
- Determine the vocabulary words or phrases students will learn based on the essential content being taught, and prioritize vocabulary words that are critical to understanding the content, unknown to students, useful across content areas, and difficult to understand.
- Use frequent un-graded formative assessments to test students’ comprehension without risk of failure.
How: (How to Set up the Strategy)
- Introduce students to the new term with a brief description or explanation as well as a nonlinguistic representation (image, symbol, or icon) of the word or phrase. Avoid using a dictionary definition when describing or explaining the term.
- Ask students to generate their own description or explanation of the new word or phrase as opposed to having them restate or record yours.
- Ask students to create their own nonlinguistic representation of the word or phrase using an image or symbol. They can even act out the term with movements and gestures.
- Facilitate activities that help students build and record their knowledge of the term. This can be accomplished by using a graphic organizer to help students compare vocabulary words and identify the relationship between them.
- Periodically ask students to engage with each other in collaborative discussions about the terms to share and compare their understandings. This can be accomplished using a variety of discussion protocols that facilitate movement and discourse.
- Involve students in games that encourage students to play and interact with the terms.
Digital Application of the Strategy:
In a virtual classroom, teachers can introduce the vocabulary during a virtual meeting by presenting their description and an image or graphic representation of the new word or phrase using an interactive whiteboard like Google Jamboard or Google Slides (Step 1). Teachers can then ask students to generate and share their own descriptions and nonlinguistic representation on a separate frame (Step 2-3). For more structured support, teachers can paste and project a graphic organizer like a Frayer Model on several frames and share it with individual students or groups of students to complete (Steps 2-4). This can also be accomplished through a collaborative document or presentation like Google Docs or Slides. Once they are finished, teachers can place them into virtual breakout rooms, where they can collaborate with others to share and compare their work (Step 5). Games like Crosswords and Mis-spilled, found on Studies Weekly Online, can be used periodically to encourage students to play and interact with the terms (Step 6).
- Archer, A. L., Hughes, C. A. (2011) Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching (What Works for Special-Needs Learners). The Guilford Press.
- Butler, S., Urrutia, K., Buenger, A., Gonzalez, N., Hunt, M., & Eisenhart, C. (2010) A Review of the Current Research on Vocabulary Instruction. National Reading Technical Assistance Center. https://www2.ed.gov/programs/readingfirst/support/rmcfinal1.pdf
- Marzano, R. J. (2004). Building background knowledge for academic achievement: Research on what works in schools. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
- Marzano, R. J. (September 2009) The Art and Science of Teaching / Six Steps to Better Vocabulary Instruction. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept09/vol67/num01/Six-Steps-to-Better-Vocabulary-Instruction.aspx