What is an academic vocabulary?
Academic vocabulary consists of words that are not commonly used or frequently encountered in everyday conversation. These words include specialized content vocabulary for specific subjects such as reading/language art, science, social studies, or math. Academic vocabulary also includes terms found on standardized tests. When students understand testing vocabulary, test scores go up. By teaching test vocabulary and how the words look in different forms on a test, students feel better prepared and more confident on test day.
When to Teach Words
When preparing units of study such as novel studies, add four to five academic vocabulary words in with the novel specific words. Select words based on the skills taught during the unit of study.
Vocabulary Teaching Method
Select two or three vocabulary words a day. With a restrictive number of words, students can practice every word, every day during the unit. Students will hear the words over and over again which is essential for long-term memory. Also for regular vocabulary words, select a large number of synonyms for each vocabulary word to use in this daily study.
Regular Vocabulary Routine
Every day, students create vocabulary cards with these words, definitions, and/or word webs.
On one side of the index card, have students write the vocabulary word in large letters so that it may be used as a response card. On the reverse side, students write word webs. For daily practice, students spread their index cards with the words facing up on their desktops. The teacher calls out definitions, synonyms, antonyms, or sentences with missing words, etc. Students locate the correct word and hold up the card. This is a great way for the teacher to check to determine if students need additional practice or if most know the words. Also, each student is participating with each teacher request – the every student, every time theory. Simply add academic vocabulary words in the mix. In place of word webs, students should write definitions and examples.
This download contains materials to aid in teaching academic vocabulary. You will find the following: