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Tennessee school project identifies vocabulary words

August 9, 2010

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Find all of the words

Find all of the words for each grade at the Tennessee vocabulary project website: http://jc-schools.net/tutorials/vocab/index.html.

It has long been known that children from high-poverty families start school at a disadvantage, in large part because they have less than one-third the vocabulary of better-off children. This deficit is linked to lower academic achievement that starts early and is often never remedied.

To try to address this, the state of Tennessee is implementing what it calls the Academic Vocabulary Project.

Teachers are armed with a list of words and phrases that have been identified as necessary for students to know at different grades, and they are supposed to make the children learn them.

These aren’t necessarily the kinds of words students will find on a college admissions test; rather, they represent concepts that children need to grasp new material in math, science, language arts and social studies.

The project was built around a teacher’s manual called “Building Academic Vocabulary” by researchers Robert Marzano and Debra Pickering.

Marzano wrote the manual for the Tennessee project, in which he explains how the words were selected — with the help of experts in different subjects — and how they should be taught.

The least effective way is have kids memorize words and definitions. Rather, Marzano’s manual says, it is actually best to avoid giving students a formal definition of a word when it is first introduced. Use a description, explanation or example instead, he says.

Kids are then supposed to write their own descriptions and keep a vocabulary notebook to add entries with enough room for comments as their understanding of the word develops.

You can find all of the words for each grade at the Tennessee vocabulary project Web site: http://jc-schools.net/tutorials/ vocab/index.html.

The list

Here are some of the words for each grade. Check to see how many your child knows — and how many you could properly explain to another person.

• Kindergarten language arts words: Alphabet, author, illustrator, beginning, ending, consonant, vowel, drawing, fairy tale, letter, picture book, poem, story, song, print, retell, rhyme, sentence, speech, title, upper case (capital), lower case, word, period, question mark, exclamation mark, read.

• Sixth-grade science words: Abiotic, atmospheric convection, adaptive engineered technologies, assistive engineered technologies, asteroid, bias, biome, biosphere, biotic, cause and effect, chemical potential energy, climate change, conductivity, control, criteria, design constraint, elastic potential, electrical conductor, energy transformation, gravitational potential, energy, hygrometer, meteorological data, ocean current, protocol, prototype, psychrometer, scavengers, simple circuits, tides, variable.

• The seventh grade math words: Absolute value, additive inverses, box & whisker plot, coefficient, cube root, function, function notation, greatest common divisor, greatest common factor, histograms, intercepts, interquartile range, least common multiple, linear equation, negative exponents, perfect square, property, proportional relationships, quartile, scatter plots, scientific notation, slope, square root, unit rates.

• Eighth grade social studies words: Philanthropy, altruism, antebellum, absolute, exchange, commerce, congressional, civic efficacy, constitutional, contract, consumption, autocracy, oligarchy, dictatorship, diplomacy, domestic, doctrine, federalism, Holocaust, human impact, infrastructure, insurrection, interdependence, international, map projections, nationalism, Magna Carta, recession, relative, republicanism, social norms, totalitarian, vernacular, autocracy, oligarchy, dictatorship.

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