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Building Academic Vocabulary – Marzano


20 Comments so far ↓

  • Glenda McComber

    I just finished reading this book! Reading this book inspires me to have a “scheduled vocabulary lesson” 2-3 times a week. The author says, “Teaching specific terms in a specific way is probably the strongest action a teacher can take to ensure that students have the academic background knowledge they need to understand the content they will encounter in school.” What a powerful statement! Teaching vocabulary is the strongest action we can take to make sure that our students have background knowledge!!! We are always concerned about our students not having enough background knowledge when they enter our rooms, and this statement tells us we can fix that!

    The authors also say this: “Given the importance of academic background knowledge and the fact that vocabulary is such an essential aspect of it, one of the most crucial services that teachers can provide, particularly for students who do not come from academically advantaged backgrounds, is systematic instruction in important academic terms.” I have new insight now, on how I can better prepare my students for learning just by providing a time to learn new terms!

    This book shares how to come up with a list of terms, and different ways to teach them. They strongly advise against telling the students to”copy the definition from a dictionary.” Instead, we are to find out what they already know about the term, and then provide a description or example of the term. This will give the student a more natural starting place for learning a new term.

    The main thing I got from reading this book is I realized how important it is to teach my students new words, and to present the words in a natural way …in a way they speak. This book provides MANY ideas for playing games with vocabulary, like the “Jeopardy” game and the 25,000 Pyramid Game! Great ideas!

  • Julia Waldie

    I just finished reading Chapter 1. I am very excited and hopeful that our school will adopt this program to immerse our kids in the academic vocabulary they need to be successful in school. It reminds me of an incident I had with a little girl I was teaching a few years ago. I commented that this lesson is a “piece of cake”! She looked at me and asked what cake? Her picture and meaning of the “term” were different. As an adult, I find our education system is full of terms and abbreviations that often I have to ask about myself – and I am an adult!

  • Elisa Hediger

    Ladies, after reading your comments, you have just confirmed (thank you) what I have learned recently in my Educational Psychology class. We learned that when dealing with students from diverse backgrounds such as ours, we need to (a) teach in mini lessons, such as what you mention, Glenda, doing 2-3 vocab lessons per week, and (b) try to limit idioms, and if we use them, we fully explain them, like what Julia is experiencing. And you are so right Glenda, a dictionary definition is not sufficient. When we can find ways of relating these terms to prior knowledge, even by using props or playing games, the kids will learn more efficiently and retain it better and longer. Our kids need to be given every opportunity to learn, but we cannot do this by just feeding fact and data day in and day out. We need to help them to relate their learning to what they already know. By doing this, we are building background knowledge by utilizing their prior knowledge, and ensuring effective, meaningful learning that will actually stay with them.

  • Julia Waldie

    I have completed the book. It is a quick reference book to begin the vocabulary words that will help our students become even more awesome.

    The recommendations to begin this vocabulary development are great. The author recommends that the grade levels make decisions on the terms they are going to tackle for the year.
    After the vocabulary has been decided, the book lays out 6 easy steps to begin teaching the vocabulary. I especially liked the part where the author suggested you talk to the kids about your mental image you see when you say the word. The author ties in that all words need to form a “picture” in the students head in order for it to be meaningful and stick!

    The book also has some pretty cool copies of sample notebook pages.

    The author also addressed our kids who are ESL. He suggested those students be able to discuss with students with their same language the words in their native tongue – possibly even creating an image using their language in their notebook. We often see these kids trying to form an image when we speak to them so this would help them overcome that part of it and be able to understand the word more quickly.

    I really enjoyed the book!

  • Beth Shier

    After reading your comments, I would really like to see this book! It seems like a quick read and very practical. Especially of interest is the ESL piece, and the part about vocabulary notebooks. I would need to see this book to see how I can incorporate what I can into my class. We do learn vocabulary a lot, I use a lot of pictures, word cards, etc. If our school does adopt this program, as Julia suggested, I would like training so that we are all on the same page, so to speak.

  • Tiffany Bingham

    Reading the above comments makes me excited for what we are doing in first grade! We are introducing big vocabulary words to our students this year. Such as: Stamina, Metacognition and Schema. We are hoping by introducing these words in the early grades when they get to third – fifth grade they know what they mean and are using the words in their school work.

  • Carla Gill

    Chapter 1 The Need for a Program to Build Academic Vocabulary
    Marzano has written another great book. This book explains why it is so important to implement an academic vocabulary program in a school. This first chapter states “When all the teachers in a school focus on the same academic vocabulary and teach it in the same way, the school has a powerful comprehensive approach to successful learning.” This is exactly what we have wanted to do at ACFT. The information in this book along with our comprehension tool kit can be a dynamic way for us as teachers to help our students become academically successful. This book contains 7,923 terms across 11 subject areas with suggestions for individual teachers, a school and even an entire district on how to design and implement a comprehensive program to reinforce academic terms. Just think, the more students understand the vocabulary terms, then how much easier it will be for them to understand information they read or hear about.

  • Beverly Ellis

    Way to go First Grade! By teaching our students what metacogniton means and using their schema when reading books we will see students truly thinking about their reading! As teachers here at ACFT it is essential that we build our students background knowlede through vocabulary. Reading engaging books on a daily basis with our students will build that important vocabulary our students need. I went to a conference a few years ago and the speaker highly stressed the importance of building our students background knowledge through vocabulary. Using our language to literacy charts we are stressing the importance of vocabulary with our students.

  • Melody Bustillos

    The first chapter of this book tells about the need for a program to teach academic vocabulary. I basically skipped over that to get to the best parts of the book- how to accomplish this. Many books give a lot of information without the strategies for how to use it, but not this book. This is one of the most helpful books I have read in a long time. I followed Chapter 2 and created a vocabulary list, based on the one recommended by the district, which I agreed with. I also added a few terms that the students should have known from prior grades, but don’t, because they usually come from another school. Chapter 3 teaches the six steps for teaching the vocabulary terms, and they are engaging, fun for the students, and are easy to integrate into the lesson. I am primarily using this for Social Studies terms, but have added some of the activities for Science and Reading tutorials. The students have responded with enthusiasm about learning new words, and seem to retain them better. I am looking forward to trying more of the activities and games as the year goes on. This book made me excited about teaching vocabulary!

  • Amelia Tomassi

    I have just read Chapter 1: The Need for a Program to Build Academic Vocabulary. The word Program sticks out for me because if we were to implement this program to our Kindergarteners and continue teaching them the same strategies throughout the grade levels, then the students would have learned a valuable skill. By practicing this skill, over and over, the students would greatly increase their academic vocabulary and possibly feel less pressure when they are taking reading portion of the TAKS test.

    I also briefly flipped through the rest of the chapters and am looking forward to reading this book.

  • Irene West

    I totally agree with Marzano that the strongest action a teacher can take to ensure that students have the academic background knowledge to understand the content they will encounter is providing them direct instruction in these terms. When students understand these terms, it is easier for them to understand the information they will read and hear in class.

    I strongly believe the for us teachers that teach lower grades it is very important so begin in the earliest school years to bath the students in academic vocabulary and language, so will be preparing th students for great academic success in their future grades. In our professional development days Our Bilingual Director Nora Fabela has been providing opportunities for the Bilingual teachers to come up with innovating strategies to teach academic vocabulary in Science, such as teaching the student’s academic vocabulary through fun games, have the students to draw pictures of the academic vocabulary words, have the students make their own cheers or songs, and allow them to present their understanding of the Science vocabulary in any other creative way the students can bring vocabulary alive. In my classroom, I also use a lot of good literature and songs in Spanish that I know contain academic vocabulary to begin a Math or a Science lesson.

  • Jennifer Kimbrough

    Chapter 1 addresses WHY we need to teach specific content area terms. I am a firm believer in not only teaching academic vocabulary but also utilizing it both inside and outside of the classroom. Students need the practice inside of the classroom before they are comfortable sharing their knowledge i.e. standardized tests. So many times the phrasing and terminology of the assessments confuse students, not the concept. I completely agree that students have to have content vocabulary before they can acquire more knowledge.
    It is astounding to note that without direct vocabulary instruction the academic background gap between academically advantaged students (those who have had opportunities for education like travel or exposure to a variety of cultures) and academically disadvantaged students (those with fewer resources) grows larger. Our hope that the children will simply glean academic vocabulary through everyday interaction becomes a bit naive. I am looking forward to the strategies provided in the next few chapters to ensure that we allow ALL students the opportunity to learn at a higher level.

  • Stefanie W

    Yay First Grade~~~~~ Here is a little something that I can bring over to you all in regards to metacognition. It is a song that our BRAVO specialist here at AWB uses from Tanny McGregor. All of her scholars know and sing this song…quite cool when you can ask a 3rd grader what metacognition is….

    To the tune of “Mexican Hat Dance”

    I think I can think about thinking!
    Do you understand what I said?
    It’s all about metacognition~
    What’s going on in my head!

  • Cathy Pavlovich

    After studying reading comprehension through my graduate courses online (with Marzano as one of the instructors), I am sold on the importance of building academic vocabulary. All students need specific instruction in this area. Additionally, it is even more critical for students from a low socio-economic background, and English Language Learners. Ruby Payne (1998) emphasizes the importance of helping these students move from casual register to formal/academic language. Marzano stresses best practices for teaching to include planned vocabulary mini lessons that involve student conversation and using pictures to help create connections in the brain. As my colleagues have mentioned, I also will utilize these mini lessons to help my students build their academic vocabulary. I am very fortunate to be attending the Sheltered Instruction Training that places a major emphasis on teaching techniques to build vocabulary in our students.

  • Sally Frye

    This book sounds great. I must borrow it from Pav when she is finished. I agree that we should have a campus program to build a strong vocabulary for all of our students.

  • Elizabeth Shier

    Hey Stefanie! Bev Ellis has the song you mentioned plus a whole lot more strategie songs, recordings, powerpoints and all – or ask me and I will email them to you! – Beth Shier

  • Sheri Plankey

    This book has a lot of good ideas about teaching academic vocabulary. It is great to have a book with actual ideas that can be implemented. I look forward to seeing how the activities can be modified to work for Pre k.

  • Dora Villasana

    Building Academic Vocabulary, this book basically tells that it is very important to have an academic vocabulary, and I totally agree! If we teach the same basic academic vocabulary it’s going to be easier for our kids to understand terms that are not used in a “regular” conversation. I love the 6 steps, and use something very similar but with a basic Spanish vocabulary.

    I think that we can do the same in Spanish (using more advance vocabulary), don’t you agree?

  • Violeta Lopez

    It is crucial teaching academic vocabulary to children starting from the first year of school. Our students come from diverse cultures and languages and we as teachers have the responsibility to ensure that our children have the academic background knowledge to understand the content they will face through the school years. Most of our students come from academically disadvantage backgrounds so we need to use a systematic approach to teach academic vocabulary; this method will ensure that children build the background knowledge needed for students to be successful in the content areas.

    When teaching academic vocabulary in a dual language classroom, I think that it is important to first provide the description in the native language along with a visual representation of the word. Then I ask the student to explain to me what he or she has understood. I allow the children to write the definition in their native language. The children also use graphs, pictures or symbols to represent what they have learned. We do different activities during the week such as watching videos or playing games to help them understand and connect what they have learned to everyday life situations.

  • Bethany Walden

    After reading your comments I am very inspired to keep teaching my kids vocabulary. I feel like with my kids being so young and this being many of their first experiences with school and academic language they really need to learn a rich vocabulary. i am so excited that many of the teachers here feel the same way. This means that as my babies get older they will continue to build on the vocabulary that they are learning this year.

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