Building Academic Vocabulary
A Researched-based Strategy by Robert Marzano
Submitted by Mary Morris
Do you remember how you learned vocabulary words back when you were a stu‐ dent in school? If you had teachers similar to mine, you were: • given a list of 15‐20 words
• told to look them up in a textbook, dictionary, or encyclopedia
• write down (copy) their definitions
• learn, study or memorize them
If that is the extent of your knowledge on how to teach students how to know and understand complex terms, then this strategy is for you! On May 26th several Mentor/ Mentee teachers from CA BOCES learned the 6‐Steps for
Building Academic Vocabulary – A Researched‐based Strat‐
egy by Robert Marzano. The
6‐Steps are not difficult to do and there is significant re‐ search that shows how effec‐ tive direct instruction on vo‐ cabulary increases student understanding and achieve‐ ment; but the most critical obstacle that many teachers will face is the temptation to give their students a defini‐ tion of the term – or ask them to look it up.
About twenty percent of the students in our classrooms can learn new vocabulary the way I was taught, but what do you do when eighty percent of your students can’t learn that way? This is where the power of the 6‐Steps helps students learn for themselves, from each other and helps them understand that learn‐ ing new vocabulary is a proc‐
ess. Another major difference is the number of words and the types of words that you would use with this strategy. The best words to use with this strategy are deep, conceptual terms that are crucial to the application of new knowledge ‐ words like symbolism, im‐ agery, systems, democracy, linear,
equilibrium, and strategy. Typically, you would not have a long list of terms – you might find yourself reducing your vocabulary lists from 20 words to 5 words. The 6‐Step process builds background knowledge, has a social ele‐ ment and integrates various thinking strategies and games to help students practice un‐ derstanding new words.
“Robert J. Marzano, PhD, is
cofounder and CEO of Mar‐ zano Research Laboratory in Englewood, Colorado. A leading researcher in educa‐ tion, he is a speaker, trainer, and author of more than 30 books and 150 articles on topics such as instruction, assessment, writing and implementing
cognition, effective leader‐ ship, and school interven‐ tion. His books include De‐
signing & Teaching Learning Goals & Objectives, District Leadership That Works, For‐ mative Assessment & Stan‐ dards‐Based Grading, On Excellence in Teaching, and The Art and Science of
Teaching. His practical trans‐ lations of the most current research and theory into classroom strategies are internationally known and widely practiced by both teachers and administrators.
and try their hand at creating a landscape in pastels with Jodi Lowe. Mr. Norton was a par‐ ticipant in the first Adjudica‐ tion event and is now pursuing a degree in Art at SUNY – Brockport.
The adjudication process re‐ quires students to prepare a portfolio with specific criteria to submit to the adjudicator. Students must present their art
work, write a profile defining their work and themselves as artists and a critical analysis of a piece of art which they have re‐interpreted from a known artist.
Art teachers; Jodi Lowe, Sarah Smith, Nicole Missel, and Theresa Heinz trained as adju‐ dicators and are looking for‐ ward to expanding the pro‐
gram next year. Students en‐ joy the opportunity to share, learn to receive constructive feedback and explore careers in art. Best endorsement from a first timer,
“When can we do this again?! This was great!”
Adapted with permission from the Springboard Online! strategic planning training course, ©2001, Leadership Strategies, Inc.—Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Marzano received a bachelor’s degree from Iona College in New York, a mas‐ ter’s degree from Seattle University, and a doctorate from the University of Washington.”
Learn more @ www.marzanoresearch.com
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4