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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Common Core Reading: Informational Text Standard 4

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard for Reading 4 (CCRA.R.4) deals with vocabulary. In grades three, four, and five, the Common Core asks students to "determine the meaning of general and domain-specific words and phrases in a text" that are relevant to the student's grade level.

Let's look at one way we can ensure that students build domain-specific words: emphasizing terms related to academic subject matter. What does this mean? It means that we need to make sure students are picking up all of the vocabulary related to what we're studying in math, English, social studies, science, health, etc. Not only will this build students' vocabularies, it will also help them master subject matter content.

The title of my blog tells you that I tend to be a serious-minded teacher. It will come to no surprise to you that I believe in teaching and testing subject matter vocabulary.

Vocabulary is a big deal in every subject. If we don't know the vocabulary, how can we communicate about a topic? I found a great summary of strategies for vocabulary at I've provided a freebie with multiple vocabulary organizers (using the Frayer Model) for you below.

Holistic word analysis is great, but sometimes students also need to employ knowledge of word parts. For example, when studying measurement, students need to know prefixes (centi-, milli-, and kilo-), as well as what each root word measures (liter = volume, gram = mass, meter = length). For polygons, they use their knowledge of the root word "gon" (angle) and its various prefixes.

A few days ago I explained how I would be using word strips to help my students construct meaning of words with Greek and Latin parts. Here it is again. To introduce the polygon terms, I'll use these two sheets (printed back-to-back).

Students will prepare their word strips, practice, and take a test, as shown in the example below.

I've only hit upon a few ways to improve your students' domain-specific vocabulary. There are so many more! How we do it is not nearly as important as getting it done. This standard reminds me that I need to emphasize subject matter vocabulary every day. 

Do you have some great vocab strategies to share? I'd love to hear them! Just comment below.