Academic Vocabulary for Middle School Students: Research-Based Lists and Strategies for Key Content Areas

Authors: Jennifer Wells Greene Ph.D., Averil Coxhead Ph.D.

Format: Paperback, 192 pages, 7.0 x 10.0
ISBN: 9781598573053
Price: $29.95

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Vocabulary knowledge plays a huge role in the academic success of middle school students. But which words do students need to know to master the content in their textbooks, and how can they be learned? This book has the practical answers educators need. Middle school teachers will get five extensive, research-based lists of academic vocabulary words most frequently used in student textbooks—the words kids need to know to increase their comprehension and succeed in school. Teachers will also get critical background information on the importance of academic vocabulary, guidance on testing word knowledge, and proven teaching strategies for weaving vocabulary instruction into their everyday lessons. A great resource for in-service professional development and preservice teacher preparation courses!

  • Strengthen academic vocabulary knowledge in five key school subjects
  • Master the content they need to know under the Common Core State Standards
  • Understand why the words they encounter in textbooks are important
  • Improve comprehension and eliminate roadblocks to understanding what they read
  • Increase school success (for all students, including English language learners and those with disabilities)

PRACTICAL MATERIALS: Five research-based lists of hundreds of academic vocabulary words, each one devoted to a key content area. Plus helpful discussion questions and 15 detailed vocabulary instruction activities, including "fix-ups" for struggling readers and English language learners and extensions that build on the activities.


Review by: Deborah Reed, Florida Center for Reading Research, Florida State University
“A practical but theoretically-motivated approach to the difficult task of improving middle school students academic vocabulary provides the clear guidance that teachers crave for determining what and how vocabulary instruction should be happening in the key content areas.”
Review by: Nancy Frey, San Diego State University
“What an invaluable resource! Busy educators will love the methods for integrating vocabulary lists into meaningful content instruction. This is a must on any teachers bookshelf.”
Review by: Joseph Dimino, Senior Research Associate, Instructional Research Group, Los Alamitos, California
“An invaluable resource that should be in every middle school teachers professional library will help educators increase students knowledge of the vocabulary they need to know to comprehend text well.”

Table of Contents

About the Authors


1. Key Concepts and Ideas about Vocabulary
How Can We Categorize Words In Texts?
What Is Academic Vocabulary?
What Is Technical Vocabulary?
What Is High-Frequency Vocabulary?
What is Mid-Frequency Vocabulary?
What Is Low-Frequency Vocabulary?
How Can We Categorize Proper Nouns?
Research on Word Lists
Identifying Academic Vocabulary in Middle School Texts
2. The Middle School Vocabulary Lists in Context
How Were the Middle School Vocabulary Lists Created?
What Kinds of Words Are Included in the Middle School Vocabulary Lists?
How Are Middle School Vocabulary List Words Integrated in Content-Area Textbooks?
Why Are the Middle School Vocabulary Lists Important for Middle School Teachers and Students?
3. Planning for Integrating the Middle School Vocabulary Lists into Classroom Instruction
What Is Meant When We Say Word Consciousness?
How Can We Set Priorities for Focusing on Specific Words?
What are Nations (2007) Four Strands for Vocabulary Instruction?
4. What Strategies Can I Use to Focus on Middle School Vocabulary List Words?
Activities for Providing Meaning-Focused Input and Meaning-Focused Output
Jigsaw Reading
Narrow Reading
Close Reading
Concept Map
Language-Focused Learning Activities
The Frayer Model
Word Sorts
Triple-Entry Vocabulary Journal
Vocabulary Cards
Semantic Feature Analysis
Identifying and Using Cognates
Word Builder
Word Chains for Form, Meaning, and Use
Activities for Developing Fluency
4-3-2 for Fluency
5. Knowing a Word and Testing Word Knowledge
What Does It Mean to Know a Word?
What Makes Word-Learning Easy and What Makes It Difficult?
How Can We Find out How Many Words Our Students Know from the Middle School Vocabulary Lists?
Testing Learning of Middle School Vocabulary List Words
How Can We Find out How Many Words our Students Know?
Why Is this Information about Vocabulary Knowledge and Testing Important for Middle School Teachers and Learners?
Future Research and Considerations

6. The Middle School Vocabulary Lists
The Middle School English Grammar and Writing Vocabulary List
The Middle School Health Vocabulary List
The Middle School Mathematics Vocabulary List
The Middle School Science Vocabulary List
The Middle School Social Studies and History Vocabulary List


Appendix A. Methodology for the Compilation of the Middle School Vocabulary Lists
Appendix B. Vocabulary Size Test Version A


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