Teaching the Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core: 55 Words That Make or Break Student Understanding

Teaching the Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core: 55 Words That Make or Break Student Understanding

Teaching the Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core: 55 Words That Make or Break Student Understanding

Teaching the Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core: 55 Words That Make or Break Student Understanding

Synopsis

Your students may recognize words like determine, analyze, and distinguish, but do they understand these words well enough to quickly and completely answer a standardized test question? For example, can they respond to a question that says " determine the point of view of John Adams in his Letter on Thomas Jefferson' and analyze how he distinguishes his position from an alternative approach articulated by Thomas Jefferson"?

Students from kindergarten to 12th grade can learn to compare and contrast, to describe and explain, if they are taught these words explicitly. Marilee Sprenger has curated a list of the critical words students must know to be successful with the Common Core State Standards and any other standardized assessment they encounter.

Fun strategies such as jingles, movements, and graphic organizers will engage students and make learning these critical words enjoyable and effective. Learning the critical vocabulary will help your students with testing and college and career readiness, and will equip them with confidence in reading, writing, and speaking.

Marilee Sprenger is also the author of How to Teach So Students Remember, Learning and Memory, and Brain-Based Teaching in the Digital Age.

Excerpt

With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by most states, there has been a sense of urgency for some educators and a sense of impending doom for others. As the tension grows for all, I looked for a place to start making the brain what I call “core compatible.” Neuroscience research has provided us with information that has been translated into classroom practice. We now know how to help most students.

For the past several years, I have been sharing the research that suggests that standardized tests are based on the vocabulary of the standards. We discuss the 85 percent conclusion (the idea that 85 percent of test scores are based on how well students know the vocabulary of the standards) that Marzano (Tileston, 2011) and others have researched. The teachers were much like my students, nodding that they knew this information and confirming that they were teaching the vocabulary. As a result, I assumed that they were using this exciting bit of knowledge to jumpstart their students to success. But why were test scores dismal at so many schools? Just as I would believe those nods and yeses from the kids, I believed the teachers as well. And the truth is, we do teach much of the vocabulary, but we do not teach it well enough. After all, who does not ask students to analyze, compare, or summarize? As I think about my own classrooms, I realize that with some students who were less familiar with terms like these, I would break them down for them as I cruised the room to help when I saw confusion on their . . .

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