Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tips on Teaching Common Core Critical Vocabulary

As a former ESL teacher and working at a Title I school where students don't hear many rich and robust words at home, vocabulary instruction has always been a major part of my reading curriculum. There is a new language associated with Common Core standards that students also need to understand. These are content specific words but critical for students to understand. This list is called the Common Core Critical Language. You can access the 55 critical nouns and verbs by clicking HERE.  If you take a look at the standards you will see these words repeatedly throughout the ELA Common Core Skills. For the primary grades you will see words such as:
draw, retell, trace, summarize, compare and contrast, describe, develop, and demonstrate just to name a few verbs. Here are just a few of the critical nouns for the primary grades: details, conclusions, theme.  

How do you know your students understand these words? Here's a simple way to find out. Look at the standards to see when these critical vocabulary words are introduced. Make a list to give to each of your students, like the ones below. Try to highlight those words as you look through the standards for your grade level. Although you may think that your students may understand what they mean you may be surprised. I would not make the list any more than ten and you may only want to do a few during vocabulary instruction for the primary grades.

I've included 2 different lists; one for primary and one for  intermediate grades which you can download for free by clicking on either picture below. Try to teach them in the order that they are presented if possible.

Here are some tips for specifically teaching these words:

  • Introduce the word and determine the definition with your students. It needs to be a student friendly definition.
  • Ask students to draw a picture of the word or what it represents. (symbol)
  • Find synonyms and antonyms for the word. 
  • Make up simple songs or jingles for the word. 
  • Have students create semantic maps for some of the words.
  • Have students create a vocabulary page in a notebook or use the one below to put in a notebook or folder that they can refer to. When they see the words in other contexts or content they can add that information to the page. You can download the one below by clicking on the picture.
Here are a few "Whole Class" activities you might like to try to help students have more practice with this critical vocabulary:

  • Act out the words.
  • Have students create Bingo Games with the following: Have the definitions in the boxes.
  •  Call out the words and students place a marker on the definition.  
  •  Have students walk around the room and when you say stop they ask the person next to them if they know what one of the words is. If they do they sign their name. Continue until someone yells "Bingo"
  • Model the words in your classroom. The more the students see them, say them, hear them and write them the more automatic they will be in their vocabulary bank.
    Here a Common Core Pinterest Board to follow:

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students. Hope you found this useful!
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