ELA: Vocabulary Pre-Teaching Strategy using Discovery Education

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Looking for a new way to pre-teach vocabulary? Try setting the stage for all readers by viewing Discovery Education videos with transcripts.

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One of the major educational shifts in the Idaho Core Standards is an increased focus on building students’ vocabulary through content area reading and the development of a more academic vocabulary. An academic vocabulary includes words a reader would find in all types of complex texts across many subject areas. Typically these words are referred to as Tier Two words.

In the past, curriculum has focused on more specific vocabulary words, but now digital and traditional reading materials aligned with the Idaho Core Standards are designed to help students develop a more general vocabulary and allow students to access a wider variety of texts. Tier Two words are very easy to generalize from text to text.

An easy way to integrate more Tier Two vocabulary into everyday routines and help struggling readers understand more complex text is to turn the transcript feature on in Discovery Education. Encourage students to keep a running list of words that might be necessary to understand the information presented in the video.  Reading research has repeatedly shown combining new vocabulary with visual aids results in higher acquisition rates than using dictionary definitions alone. Supporting students by pre-teaching important Tier Two words can help struggling readers more easily comprehend complex text across disciplines once it is time to read the traditional text book.

Examples of academic vocabulary at each tier:

Tier One words are the words of everyday speech that are usually learned in preschool and kindergarten. They are words that are not considered to be a challenge for most English speakers. While Tier One words are important, they are not the focus of many discussions.

Tier Two words are far more likely to appear in written materials than in speech. They appear in all sorts of texts: informational texts (words such as relative, vary, formulate, specificity, and accumulate), technical texts (calibrate, itemize, periphery), and literary texts (misfortune, dignified, faltered, unabashedly). Tier Two words often represent subtle ways to say simple things—For example, saunter instead of walk.

Tier Three words are very subject specific (lava, carburetor, legislature, circumference, aorta) and are key to understanding new concepts within a text. Tier Three words are far more common in informational texts than in literary text. Tier three words are often difficult for students to comprehend and are often defined by the author or found in a glossary.

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