Marzano's 6 Steps to Vocabulary Instruction #2: Have Students Re-State the Definitions in Their Own Words
If you followed Marzano's first step, your students now have the vocabulary terms and a definition, explanation or example of each.
Great, but we want our students to be able to do more than just recite back the definition they were given (rote memorization); we want them to understand and be able to apply them.
So, how do we get our students to be able to make deeper connections to the words so they can understand and apply them?
Dr. Marzano says the next step is to have students re-state the definitions in their own words. This is kink of the Social Studies version of showing your work in math - it lets us see their thinking and connections. I achieve this step in a couple of different ways...
This same concept is built into the "Turn and Talks" I embed in most of my interactive notes presentations to help my students understand the content better by hearing their peers put it into their own words.
So, if you are interested in seeing more great interactive vocabulary resources, be sure to click the link below, and also check out the rest of my store for more great interactive Social Studies resources!
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!
I love words. Discovering new words, using old words in new ways, and, as a teacher, helping students learn content vocabulary. But how? What are the most effective ways to help students learn and apply content vocabulary terms? It may shock all the middle school teachers I had growing up to learn that the best way is NOT to give out weekly vocabulary lists on Mondays for vocabulary/spelling tests on Fridays. This approach both does not install long term retention of the terms, it also rarely instills a love of words or an ability to apply them beyond that week's test.
So, if rote memorization of weekly vocabulary lists isn't the answer, what is? Fortunately, Dr. Marzano did all the research for us and created his 6 Steps of Vocabulary Instruction!
I discovered these steps a few years ago and they made so much sense, I literally began using them the next day. Since then, my students have consistently scored in the 90's on vocabulary quizzes whereas before they averaged in the upper 70's, and in talking to former students in the next year, they could usually remember almost all the terms, and are excited to show me!
Over the next month or so, I will be posting tips, tricks and resources for each of the 6 steps. In the meantime, check out the vocabulary resources I have in my TpT store.
I wanted to do a rah-rah back to school post this year, but I couldn't. I can show you a pile of discarded attempts. This just isn't the year for it, at least not here in America. This is a year to be reflective and take care of each other and ourselves.
This came into sharp focus for me the other day during our back to school professional development day. As a PLC leader, I had a provided agenda to get through about pacing, pedagogy and assessments, but, after our ice breaker about how the summer went, it became obvious that curriculum was the last thing on anyone's mind. Everyone was very stressed and more than a little scared. So, we put the agenda aside and talked about what we can do to manage our stress better in this trying time.
These are some of the things we came up with. I hope they help...
One last thought, please stay healthy and safe and know that we can and will get through this stronger than we went in.
I don't remember working in groups much in middle school. In fact, the only two times I can clearly remember were a partner project about Syria in 6th grade, and a partner checking a math assignment in 8th grade. Teaching pedagogy was different back then, I guess. My teachers were all older and out of college before the big cooperative learning push. As a result, most of my middle schooling consisted of sitting quietly in a row and being taught at for seven periods a day.
We now know that this isn't the best approach. Kids learn by interacting - both with the content and with each other. You can't have social studies without being social. I remember being terrified of the idea as a new teacher - what if they start talking, and never stop? Then, I learned the secret to effective classroom management - keeping students engaged in and excited about the content! And, the best way to do that is to allow them to interact with the content in cooperative groups. The best, longest lasting learning comes from them explaining things to each other in their own words - helping each other make connections between the content and things they're interested in that I have no real understanding of (for instance, did you know Instachat and Snapbook aren't real things?).
The missing step is training and practice. I have several "go to" interactive strategies I use on an almost daily basis - Round Robin, Rally Robin and Rally Robin Race. These three (and their written variations) are great at getting students talking, saying time and staying on task quickly. Click the link below for a free set of cooperative learning posters (pictured above) and the table mats that make them work. Something I use when installing these strategies is my Back to School Teambuilding Activities. We use the games and activities to practice how to work in groups. It is always helpful to install a new strategy doing something fun rather than something content-related, and these work well for me. Finally, don't forget to visit my store for more great Social Studies resources most of which encourage students to interact with each other in productive ways.
I'm a 14 year veteran teacher that loves teaching, coaching, writing, and my family.