Posted by Courtney Carmichael at 4/2/2015
When coming upon an unknown vocabulary word, it is better to say “How do we find out the meaning?” rather than “What do you think it means?” Students often have misconceptions about a term and will keep that wrong term in their head. Correcting a mistake is harder for the brain to process.
Using the work of educational theorist and practitioner Robert Marzano, teaching academic vocabulary builds students’ knowledge and comprehension. He estimates there are 7,923 words a typical student must know in their educational experience from across 11 subjects.
The following totals are in addition to social vocabulary a student picks up on interacting with peers and family:
In Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement, he found these words from national standards documents. Without a basic understanding of these words, students can have difficulty understanding the information they read or hear. Marzano (2005) estimates that a student without direct vocab instruction only knows about 50%. With direct instruction, that student can rise to 83%.
Marzano recommends a 6-step process:
Notice how he incorporates activities that activate the senses and multiple modes of thinking.