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Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement

by Robert J. Marzano

Table of Contents

Chapter 5. Six Steps to Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Chapter 4 focused on eight characteristics of effective vocabulary instruction. In this chapter we consider how to apply those eight characteristics in a program to enhance academic background knowledge.

Assuming that a comprehensive list of critical academic terms has been identified (chapters 6 and 7 deal with this issue), I recommend a six-step approach to direct vocabulary instruction. Regular classroom instruction provides the context for these steps. That is, mathematics teachers teach selected mathematics terms in mathematics class; science teachers teach science terms in science class. Although this is no different from what many teachers do now, what is different is that all teachers use the same six-step process. Additionally, the students record the terms in their academic notebooks—the same notebooks described in Chapter 3 as the repository for students' reflections during SSR. Those notebooks also have sections for subject matter vocabulary taught using the following six-step process.

Step 1: The Teacher Provides a Description, Explanation, or Example of the New Term


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