Teaching Tip Tuesday– Six Step Process to Teach Vocabulary

The two biggest barriers to reading comprehension are vocabulary and prior knowledge.  We need to help students learn how to expand their vocabularies, so they will succeed across the curriculum.

 Students can acquire new vocabulary in two ways: incidental acquisition (through context during reading and listening activities) and direct study.  Incidental acquisition is a common means of learning new vocabulary for proficient readers and young children.  Direct study is the more efficient way for older students to acquire vocabulary, especially high-risk students with poor vocabularies.

 As we teach vocabulary to our students, our goal is to help them expand their vocabularies and become better readers.  In order to achieve this goal, we need to teach vocabulary using high-quality methods. 

 There is power in language. And there is power in the instruction of every new word. But sound vocabulary instruction requires attending to the selection, context, and grouping of words. In addition, teachers must model their thinking about the words, and students must be engaged in activities that get them using the words in the company of their peers. And finally, learners must have multiple experiences with new words so those words can become part of their personal vocabularies. Vocabulary instruction, therefore, must be intentional—that is, explicit—in order for it to be effective. 

–Fisher & Frey

 Most of the teachers at MSB are teaching students the words for the week on Monday, and then students are tested over the words on Friday.  Students need to think about the words and engage in a variety of activities with the words throughout the week for these words to become part of the students’ personal vocabularies.  Research shows that students need to encounter a word about twelve times before that word becomes a part of their personal vocabularies. As you design your lessons and try to incorporate Tier 2 words, please consider using Marzano’s six steps for teaching vocabulary to help students acquire new words in their vocabularies.  Click this link: Marzano’s Six Step Vocabulary for further details and activity ideas to implement each step.

1. Provide a description, explanation, or example of the new term. 

*Looking up words in dictionaries is not useful for teaching vocabulary

*Students will benefit from your explanation, using Tier 1 words that they will understand

 2. Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words.

 3. Ask students to construct a picture, symbol, or graphic representing the word.

 4. Engage students periodically in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their notebooks.

 5. Periodically ask students to discuss the terms with one another.

 6. Involve students periodically in games that allow them to play with terms.


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