In current research, classroom teachers have taught us something about how to best use specific instructional strategies, for example a strategy specifically designed for teaching vocabulary, the six-step process (Marzano, 2004).
It involves the following six steps:
1. Provide a description, explanation, or example of the new term.
2. Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words.
3. Ask students to construct a picture, pictograph, or symbolic representation of the term.
4. Engage students periodically in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their vocabulary notebooks.
5. Periodically ask students to discuss the terms with one another.
6. Involve students periodically in games that enable them to play with terms.
Teachers use the first three (3) steps when introducing a term to students.
For example, assume a teacher is introducing the term mutualism. Instead of offering a textbook definition, the teacher describes the term or tells an anecdote that illustrates its meaning (Step 1). The teacher might explain that the crocodile and a bird called the Egyptian plover have a relationship that exemplifies mutualism. The crocodile opens its mouth and invites the plover to stand inside. The plover picks things out of the crocodile's teeth. Both parties benefit: The plover gets fed; the croc gets its teeth cleaned. While explaining this relationship, the teacher might show students images found on the Internet.
In Steps 2 and 3, students try their hand at explaining the meaning of mutualism. They devise an explanation or an example from their own lives (Step 2). Next, they draw an image depicting what they think mutualism means (Step 3).
A few days later, the teacher reviews the new term using Steps 4, 5, and 6, which needn't be executed in sequence. The teacher might have students compare the meaning of mutualism with another previously studied term, such as symbiosis (Step 4). Students might pair up and compare their entries on the term in their vocabulary notebooks (Step 5), or the teacher might craft a game that students play using these terms (Step 6).
Farmington Schools Academic Vocabulary Lists