CONTENT AREA LITERACY STRATEGIES

Science

VOCABULARY

 

RESOURCES ON THE WEB

Vocabulary Squares

A graphic organizer that can be used to help students understand important vocabulary words or concepts, including space for the etymology of the word, antonyms and synonyms, the definition, a symbolic representation of the word, and space for using it in a sentence

General Information on Content Reading Vocabulary

When students do not understand an author's vocabulary, they cannot fully understand the text. Good vocabulary instruction emphasizes useful words (words that students see frequently), important words (key words that help students understand the text), and difficult words (idiomatic words, words with more than one meaning, etc.). In providing vocabulary instruction teachers can help students by:

  • Activating their prior knowledge

  • Defining words in multiple contexts

  • Helping them see context clues

  • Helping them understand the structure of words, e.g., prefixes, roots, and suffixes

  • Teaching them how to use a dictionary and showing them the range of information it provides

  • Encouraging deep processing. Students need to integrate new words into their working vocabularies.

  • Giving them multiple exposures

  • Focusing on a small number of important words. Ideally, the words should be related so that the depth of concept development can be increased.

Visualizing Vocabulary    (from the National Writing Project)

By Eileen Simmons

Research shows that vocabulary is closely linked to academic success. Yet, Eileen Simmons found, vocabulary instruction in the classroom often seemed reduced to answering the question, “What does this mean?” Realizing that this wasn't enough, Simmons worked to bring her high school students to an understanding—if not a passion—for words. Here, Simmons shares a series of creative activities through which she has won over many students to the power of a good vocabulary.

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