Vocab activities for your classroom

Marzano's Six Steps to Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Ed researcher Robert J. Marzano suggests that we can help close the achievement gap by explicitly teaching subject-specific academic vocabulary to those students who are lacking the background knowledge to succeed in school. We urge you to check out this handy-dandy chart that demonstrates how the Visual Thesaurus can help you implement Marzano's six steps of vocabulary instruction.

Robert J. Marzano's "Six Steps to Effective Vocabulary Instruction" (steps paraphrased from Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement)


How the Visual Thesaurus can support
each of Marzano's Six Steps...

1. The teacher explains a new word — going beyond reciting its definition.


What better way to introduce a new term than to display an interactive word map? Teachers and students can use the interactive word map and its definitions as a springboard for explaining the term in their own words. The Visual Thesaurus goes beyond definitions by providing words in context and exposing students to the relationships that exist between the new term and other words they may already know.

2. Students restate or explain the new word in their own words.

3. Students create a nonlinguistic representation of the word.

Students can right-click on any word (control-click on the Mac) and have the option of running an Internet search or image search to find visual or representational evidence of a word.

4. Students engage in activities to deepen their knowledge of the new word.

Search the Visual Thesaurus lesson plan finder at the top of the Educators page to find lessons that are chock-full of activity and discussion ideas that take vocabulary instruction beyond rote memorization.

5. Students discuss the new word.

6. Students play games to review new vocabulary.

With the Visual Thesaurus's latest upgrade, teachers can save a customized word list as a community spelling bee.

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Georgia Scurletis is Director of Curriculum for the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com. Before coming to Thinkmap, she spent 18 years as a curriculum writer and classroom teacher. Georgia has written curriculum materials for a variety of Web sites (WGBH, The New York Times Learning Network, Edsitement) and various school districts. While teaching high school English in Brooklyn, she was a recipient of the New York State English Council's Educators of Excellence Award, the Brooklyn High Schools' Recognition Award, and The New York Times' Teachers Who Make a Difference Award. Click here to read more articles by Georgia Scurletis.

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Comments from our users:

Thursday October 22nd 2009, 10:20 AM
Comment by: Richard D. (Hoover, AL)
This comment is not about this article in particular, rather a more general feature request. I did not see a central location to post this type of request, so I am putting it here.

I use Facebook a lot and often post links to articles I think my friends would be interested in. Many sites have icons you can click on to post a link on a Facebook page in one step. This type of addition to your web pages would be appreciated.
Friday October 23rd 2009, 10:03 PM
Comment by: Blue Lotus (Brattleboro, VT)
How do you get the right-click search for an image option?
When I right -click I don't see that option.
How do I set it?
Saturday October 24th 2009, 8:37 AM
Comment by: Georgia LWL S. (New York, NY)
If you right-click on the center of a word in the Visual Thesaurus display (command-click on Macintosh computers), you will see a "pop-up" menu that shows the various actions that can be taken on that word. As a default option, you should see "Search for Images." Click on that option and
your default Web browser will search the Internet for images that are related to this word. (Requires an Internet connection and an Internet browser)

If this "Search for images" option is not working for you, you might want to check and see if your pop-up window blockers have been disabled.

(If you are part of an institutional account, you should contact the administrator of your account and see how they may have customized your right-click options.)
Friday March 19th 2010, 11:28 AM
Comment by: Lori Weaver (Colorado Springs, CO)
In Colorado Springs School District #11, we have adopted Marzano's 6-step strategy for our district-wide vocabulary initiative. You can see more about our initiative here: District 11 Vocabulary.

Since Marzano argues that vocabulary can be used to activate background knowledge, we are also creating shorter word lists to use along with other web resources (videos primarily) to also activate (or build) background knowledge. The shorter word lists and videos, then, serve as initial mini-lessons into the longer unit. Since students have access to the word lists from any computer, they can also use the lists and resources to review bigger concepts. Using the word lists in this manner -- fewer words embedded in the context of the content -- reflects current best practices in vocabulary instruction.

Here are some example word lists and accompanying resources:

The Spoken Word
The Nature of Addiction
Thursday March 25th 2010, 5:09 PM
Comment by: Georgia S.Visual Thesaurus Contributor
I love Vince's idea of using the "description" space above a word list to add illustrative videos or resources; then the word list can be an activity and a list--all in one.


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