Words, Words, Words:

The Importance of Academic Vocabulary

Big image

How to use my shiny, new knowledge in my content areas

Since I am an aspiring fourth grade teacher, I cover almost all the content areas in my self contained classroom. Below you will find a KWL chart I created to showcase my general learning. However, much of what I learned goes beyond that chart. For example, I learned that academic language is not just classified in tiers, but also by subject. Within each subject, there are several different types of language: "Fixed or frozen," which is speech we use every day and is memorized. An example of this is the Pledge of Allegiance. "Formal" speech is what happens when I am lecturing the class. The students don't get to add their input. They listen, and take notes. "Consultative" is what happens during the Guided Practice of my lessons. My students get to interact with each other, and me. There's lots of discussion happening. "Casual" language happens in the lunchroom, or at recess. This is when my students and I informally talk about things other than school work. This is an example of the camaraderie between me and my students, because this is the type of language friends use. Lastly, there is "Intimate" language. This is rarely used in my classroom, because I strive to maintain a professional atmosphere. However, if a student feels the need to share a problem they are struggling with at home or with another friend, this is the type of language we use. Knowing the different types of language I use with my students every day is important, because it will help me know which vocabulary to use at different times. I can't use "Intimate" or "Casual" language during a lesson when I am using "Formal" language (Fisher & Frey, 2011).

When using "Formal" and "Consultative" language, I might also be teaching about root words, and affixes. If I can show students how to break down words, I can better help them understand how to decipher words on their own. If in a math lesson there is a question that says "Andrew used a pedometer to count his steps two days in a row. On the first day his pedometer read 11,458 steps. On the second day his pedometer read 10,763 steps. How many steps did Andrew take total?" My students might not know what a pedometer is, and therefore miss an important part of the question. I can teach them that "ped" in pedometer is foot, they can draw the assumption that a pedometer counts how many times you move your foot, or how many feet you walk (Harmon & Wood, 2008). This is also a chance to reinforce a root word we would have already talked about. Since "academic language must be introduced and then reinforced," I could introduce "ped" in a language arts unit earlier, and reinforce it in math (Robertson, 2015).