Marzano's 6 Steps To Vocabulary Instruction #1: Provide a Definition, Description or Explanation of the Term
I used to be a big believer in having students look up content vocabulary terms in dictionaries when I introduced new vocabulary. I thought they'd learn all sorts of other words while looking up our words. I even had them write the definitions in their own words. I thought I knew it all.
Then, I quickly noticed my students when (if) they found the correct word would look at all the various definitions and select the shortest. Where I'd intended for them to understand that pyramids were amazing buildings built by the Egyptians among others, they'd wind up telling me that they were geometric shapes.
So, how do we fix this? We listen to Dr. Marzano, and when we introduce new terms, we also provide easy to understand definitions in student-friendly words and show them examples. In the example above, when we study ancient Egypt, I now provide them with the word (Pyramid), a definition (a huge building built by Egyptians), and show pictures of several of them.
What's happening in your students' brains is they are building connections between the word, the definition and an image. These connections deepen with practice over time, and help your students visualize the word when they encounter it later.
When I introduce new vocabulary, we do it over two days. The first day, students are given all of the words and definitions for the unit, and the second day, we use vocabulary task cards that use the same words, same definitions and introduce images for each term that students move around in collaborative groups completing various activities with them. These two days are then followed up with brief daily vocabulary activities throughout the unit which will be described in later posts.
If you want to see my World History or American History Vocabulary Task Cards, click the link below, and don't forget to check out the rest of my store for more great Social Studies resources!
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