- What is Word
Word Generation is a research-based vocabulary program for middle school students designed to teach words through language arts, math, science, and social studies classes. The program employs several strategies to ensure that students learn words in a variety of contexts.
The program consists of weekly units that each introduces 5 high-utility target words through brief passages outlining controversies currently under debate in this country. The paragraphs are intended to help students join ongoing "national conversations" by sparking active examination and discussion of contemporary issues. The target words are relevant to a range of settings and subject areas. The cross-content focus on a small number of words each week will enable students to understand the variety of ways in which words are related, and the multiple exposures to words will provide ample opportunities for deeper understanding.
The Word Generation program focuses on academic vocabulary, i.e., words that students are likely to encounter in textbooks and on tests, but not in spoken language. Interpret, prohibit, vary, function, and hypothesis are examples. Academic vocabulary includes (a) words that refer to thinking and communicating, like infer and deny, and (b) words that are common across subjects, but hold different meaning depending on the subject, like element and factor. Both types of academic vocabulary are likely to cause problems with comprehension unless students have been taught how to deal with them.
Core Program Elements
The target words are presented in the context of a paragraph that displays academic writing and that introduces a controversial topic of interest to adolescents. The program is meant to be implemented school-wide (or across an entire grade or team within a school). Teachers in different content areas display the target words in different contexts.
Activities provided for the content area teachers highlight authentic uses of the target words in their subject matter. These activities link to standards and skills expected of students within the various content areas (e.g., interpreting a bar graph on the incidence of obesity as a math activity, debating the censorship question as a social studies activity, analyzing the use of nonliteral language in hip-hop lyrics as an English Language Arts activity).
The introductory paragraphs and supplementary activities introduce students to domains of world knowledge (global warming, the relationship between schooling and income, the relationship between obesity and diabetes) that are important for reading popular media with comprehension. Students might have little access to such domains otherwise.
Because teachers participate across content areas, the introduction and implementation of the program requires groups of teachers who may not frequently have the opportunity to discuss instruction to work together and to hold each other accountable for supporting students' vocabulary and literacy development.
|Support for Word Generation
Carnegie Corporation of New York
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The Noyce Foundation
SERP and Boston Public Schools collaborated on the development of Word Generation.
|This website was made possible by the
Leon Lowenstein Foundation, Inc
|Who are the people who developed Word Generation? Find out!|
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