Forming Links with Vocabulary


I am presenting a workshop at the KDP International Honor Society in Education’s Convocation this week.  The title of the session is Vocabulary Building Strategies and the Common Core.  Multiple Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy focus on vocabulary building, specifically:

Reading:  Craft and Structure
CCSS Anchor Standard 4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
Language:  Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
CCSS Anchor Standard 4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
CCSS Anchor Standard 5: Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Marzano discusses six steps to teaching vocabulary:
•Step One:  Provide a description, explanation, or example of new term.
•Step Two:  Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words.
•Step Three:  Ask students to construct a picture, symbol, or graphic representing the term.
•Step Four:  Engage students periodically in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their notebooks.
•Step Five:  Periodically ask students to discuss the terms with one another.
•Step Six:  Involve students periodically in games or activities that allow them to play with the terms.
One of the activities that I will share in the workshop focuses primarily on steps four-six. Students, in groups of 4,  are asked to choose one word from a list of words given to them.  After choosing the word of their choice, students go to the  visuwords website,, and enter the word.  visuwords-screenshot
Students spend some time in their groups discussing the diagram they have created.  Next, students recreate the diagram, or a portion of the diagram, and physically illustrate the diagram for the class. This could be through actions, with posters, or any other means they choose to present the information to the class. The key is they are up, physically active, and engaged in the discussion of the selected word.

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