Shift Happens! A shift in vocabulary, that is.

Image, Shift Happens

As you know, when the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts were released, we all learned about the Instructional Shifts.  As you read about the Common Core and the changes it brings, you’ll see two basic lists of the shifts – one with three items and one with six.  The list with 3 shifts simply combines some of the shifts.  I prefer to keep the shifts separated, as shown below.

Image, Slide 1

In case you’re wondering whether or not the shifts matter, I want to let you know they do.  All six of them.  But as with anything, you’ll have to figure out how to use them and make them work for you in your school or district.  When thinking about the shifts, there are at least a few times and ways you can use them: (1) Develop curriculum, (2) Design high-impact lessons for students, (3), Design aligned assessments to the college and career readiness standards, and (4) Design professional development experiences for teachers and administrators.

Now, I want to share each of the shifts with you – one at a time – in hopes there’s a thing or two you can use. Today’s shift is Vocabulary.

In using my shift pages, you’ll want to know how I’ve set them up. I’ve designed a format for beginning to think about each of the shifts.  The following visual, How the Shifts Are Set Up, shows my logic in thinking about the shifts. Take a quick look.

Image, Slide 2

After a quick description of the shift, you’ll see two areas: one that provides hints for curriculum and another that provides hints for instruction and the possible professional needs of staff.

By way of example, there’s a shift that speaks to text-based answers.  It’s a standard in the curriculum – and teachers need to understand what it means. We all need to understand what it means; it’s even being tested as part of the redesigned SAT. Remember, evidence is king in the CCSS – so I chose it for the example.

Now, take a look at Shift 6, Vocabulary. I chose to present this one to you first as so many schools and districts are focusing on vocabulary development.

Image, Slide 3

For the Common Core ELA standards (including the literacy standards), Academic Vocabulary is a big shift.  As you can see from the visual, the focus should be on pivotal and commonly found words.  (The redesigned SAT will focus on Tier II words in context, but that’s not why we need to focus on vocabulary. We need to focus on vocabulary because it will help our students learn.)

If you’re working on curriculum at the district, school, or classroom levels, there are a number of ways you can provide support for academic vocabulary.

Integrate shift in curriculum units:

  • Place vocabulary throughout lessons, where appropriate, rather than at end of units.
  • Provide activities for students to work with words
  • Identify core vocabulary . Use sources such as SBAC, PAARC, Tier II, and Tier III words.
  • Provide descriptions of core vocabulary
  • Provide content cards where needed.
  • Provide a list of core vocabulary words and corresponding descriptions for units.

Additionally, as you are thinking about professional development, consider some of the examples:

  • Direct Explicit Instruction for Vocabulary
  • How to Develop School-wide Vocabulary Supports for Students
  • How to Determine Core Vocabulary for a Course, Department, and/or School
  • High-Impact Vocabulary Strategies
  • How to Help Students Track Their Own Learning of Vocabulary Words
  • Tier II Words
  • Tier III Words (for social studies, science, and technical subjects)
  • Helping Students With Their Own Word-Learning Activities
  • Effective Strategies for Teaching New Words

I so hope some of these ideas will be helpful to you as you support schools in improving achievement.


RESOURCES

Common Core State Standards

Common Core Shifts for ELA and Literacy

Examples of Lessons for Teaching Vocabulary

Content Cards – Details, Details, Details

Common Core Standards for Literacy in Science (Includes ideas for vocabulary.)

Motor Mouth Review

Content Cards – Line Graphs

Content Card – Parallel

Content Card – Bar Graphs

Content Card – Measuring Length

Examples of Lessons for Teaching Vocabulary: ELA K-12

You already know how important it is to teach vocabulary.  You likely also know that we need to be directly teaching important vocabulary words.  I’ve provided these examples to give you an idea of ways you might structure lessons to teach vocabulary.  The examples are in a pdf format and ready for you to download and use.

Kindergarten Example:  Introducing Words in a Scene

Grades 01-02:  Words from The Little Fly and the Great Mouse

Grades 03-05:  Multiple Meaning Words

Grades 06-08:  Multiple Strategies for Recognizing Words

Grades 09-12:  Root Words

Content Card – Details, Details, Details

Details and examples are one of those areas that students have struggled with when writing.  Being able to cite details and examples is a skill that is valuable in reading, writing, thinking, and speaking.  What are some of the things we might want to make sure students learn when we ask them to think about details and examples?  We might want them to know what kinds of things are details: facts, quotes, statistics, firgurative language, the information in a visual, sensory details, and more.  We also want students to know some of the things they can do with details:  compare and contrast ideas, support a point of view, oppose a point of view, make a decision, describe a character, make inferences, make prediections, and more.  As always, I’ve got a pdf copy for you – just print it out and share it with your students (and fellow educators).

Content Card, Details

Content Card – Solving Algebraic Expressions

Another one completed!

Click here to get the pdf.  Don’t forget to run this on one sheet of paper for a one-pager (front and back) content card.

Content Card, Parallel (Elementary Level)

Our younger students learn about parallel lines in different grade levels in different states.  But there is some key content that students need to know related to parallel lines.  This content card provides key content.  (If you see other things that need to be added, please leave a comment and I’ll update this.  All of my content cards are a work in progress.)  DOWNLOAD THE CONTENT CARD FOR PARALLEL.  I’ve included a piece that is not in most elementary programs – and that is how to write a math sentence that shows two lines are parallel.

Remember that in curriculum development world, we still need to work on things students must be able to do with this content at the elementary school level.  Do we want students to identify parallel lines in everyday things?  Do we want students to distinguish between a parallel line and a perpendicular line?  What about explaining what a parallel line is?  What about explaining why a line that is not parallel isn’t?  Do we want students to explain the difference between parallel lines and intersecting lines?  These kinds of things become objectives in your curriculum.

For those of you in charge of developing curriculum, there are a couple of questions you’ll want to answer:  What core content do you want at each grade level in relation to this concept?  What do you want students to do with the content at each grade level?  By the way, content cards are a good way to check vertical and horizontal alignment in a curriculum at the district level.

If your role is that of designing assessments, the content cards are a big plus as well.  When everyone works from the same core content – and the same objectives, you support tight alignment at the classroom level – which is where alignment really happens.

Counting Sort With Sentences

This is another sort that I designed when I put together the Content Card for Counting (Kindergarten Level).  In this activity, students practice using sentences that have a number.  DOWNLOAD THIS ACTIVITY and your students will soon be making sentences.

Corresponding Content Card – Counting 1, 2, 3.

Content Card – Counting 1, 2, 3

One of the things I do to determine the quality of a curriculum is to review the actual content the curriculum will include.  This is the content card I developed for the common core’s DRAFT grade-level kindergarten standards that deal with counting.  I’ve also reviewed the the corresponding standards for the State of Michigan and the Commonwealth of Virginia.  See what you think!  DOWNLOAD THE CONTENT CARDS.

Content Card – Bar Graph

This content card is designed for elementary school students.  If you like this one, just let me know and I’ll add to the content for middle and high school students.

Download the bar graph content card in pdf format.

Word Walls

There’s a lot of information related to the use of word walls – it’s one of those topics where you can never have enough ideas.   I’ve included some of my own in an eight page downloadable handout.  Check it out to see if there’s a new idea or two for you to use.  In this piece, I focus on word walls for MATHEMATICS.

Math Operations Chart

This is a  Math Operations Chart you may want to use to help students learn key vocabulary related to basic math operations.

MathOperationsChart

I also designed a brief teacher’s sheet with notes to go along with this.  The teacher’s sheet has questions you can use with students to help them learn to read and use the chart.

MathOperationsChartTeacherNotes

Things to Download

Full-sized Copy of the Math Operations Chart

Math Operations Chart and Teacher Notes