Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Topic: Academic Vocabulary

10-second review: Sought to define what is meant by “academic vocabulary,” and found such a definition more difficult than the authors thought.

Title: “What Is Academic Vocabulary?” JF Baumann and MF Graves. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (September 2010), 4 – 12.

Quote: “Hiebert and Lubliner (2008) specified four groups of vocabulary: (1) content-specific vocabulary (math, science, social studies, etc.); (2) general academic vocabulary; (3) school-task vocabulary; (4) literary vocabulary.”

Comment: The authors ask what words should you teach? I ask, what words should you pre-teach, based on the unfamiliar words in the reading assignments in the textbook, or words significant for the course? From personal experience, I have learned that students don’t see words they don’t recognize. Pre-teaching the words calls attention to them.

How do you teach them? Have students create word cards, 3” x 5” index cards. On the front (blank) side of the card put the word and its pronunciation (if necessary). On the lined side, put an informal definition, or student-friendly definition. Do not copy the formal dictionary definition unless it’s short and clear. Create a symbol, if possible, to help students visualize the word. Add alternate forms of the word. Add synonyms (3), and antonyms. That’s about all the student will need to know about that word. RayS.

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