How do I know which words students need to know? Aren’t the bolded words in the textbook good enough? What online tools and apps can I use to support vocabulary development?
While a textbook’s emphasis on very specific content vocabulary may help a student better understand the concepts being addressed in class, these words often do not carry over into other disciplines. The Idaho Core Standards emphasize 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.
Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has released a partial representative list of academic vocabulary words that are likely to appear on the S-BAC this spring by grade level band. Teachers can use this knowledge, along with Webb’s Depth of Knowledge chart, to draft questions and shape vocabulary instruction in the classroom. Try exploring this Word Tiers interactive activity to hone your skills at identifying Tier Two and Tier Three words.
There are several online teaching tools and applications that can be used to beef up vocabulary instruction and help students develop a deeper understanding of Tier Two words. My current favorite is Haiku Deck. Students can create visual representations of their new vocabulary by creating multimedia slide shows using the Haiku Deck iPad app. It is currently free through the iTunes store. I was able to create the Haiku Deck presentation above in just a few minutes using Creative Commons photographs and my own text. Worksheets Works is another great website that allows students to create and print traditional Frayer Model representations of new vocabulary. Know of another great tool for vocabulary development? Let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.