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Literacy Retreat 2017


Crack the Code of Functional Vocabulary

Blank Template PDF | Word

Introduce functional words

Honor the same research-based process used for domain-specific vocabulary to introduce functional words. Begin by introducing the term explicitly. Download the resources used within the lesson below (PDF, Smartboard), including the student handout.

Provide explicit instruction

After introducing the word, follow Marzano’s six steps for teaching a new word to mastery.

Step 1: Explain

Step 4: Develop

Step 2: Restate

Step 5: Refine

Step 3: Show

Step 6: Play

Marzano’s 6-step, systematic approach to teaching a vocabulary word includes: EXPLAIN, RESTATE, SHOW, DEVELOP, REFINE, & PLAY. Learn more by reading Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement.

Add a tech twist to Marzano’s six steps of vocabulary instruction. Expose students to various technology tools that they could utilize as they work with a word. These include apps, websites, and various digital resources.

Juggle various functional words

SHADES OF MEANING: Fine-tune students’ understanding of the subtle differences between functional words by comparing them to paint chips. Provide similar words for students to rank in intensity and then rationalize their “shades” of meaning.

SAME TEXT—DIFFERENT TASKS: Provide a single text. Generate 3-4 questions about the same content. Students use the text to answer the question/command.

Up the teacher talk in classroom routines

If you don’t use it,
they will lose it!

Once functional vocabulary has been introduced, then weave it into every facet of the classroom environment.

Barb Mahnesmith challenges her fifth graders to consider clue words or signal words that they notice in multiple-choice questions to prepare them to select the right answer(s).

Highlight purple words.
Celebrate accurate and precise use of vocabulary in student writing by stroking those words with the purple highlighter.