Vocabulary - Module 3

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by cameronbelliott56ca433651b3d
Last updated 1 year ago

Language Arts
Reading Comprehension

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Tiered Vocabulary

VocabularyModule 3

Academic Language

Modeling vocabulary is extremely important for students learning. Most students are not able to learn from simply reading a text on a subject. They learn through a process of breaking things down, building them back up, and imitation of someone who is learned in the subject area. Teachers can model vocabulary usage, thinking processes for determining definitions/context/syntax, and at a very base level, pronunciation. To the same degree, students can also model for other students. This is a great peer method. For example, in my band classroom, if I need the trumpets to play a passage more staccato (Short and separated) I may ask one of my best players to play the line for the rest of the section to hear, and then will go down the row one at a time asking the rest of the players to mimic what they've just heard.

The new common core state standards adhere to a method of teaching vocabulary called "Tiered Vocabulary." This method states that vocabulary can be categorized into three categories: common words; high frequency words (cross curricular); and discipline specific words. Tier one and tier two are taugth before tier three because they provide the foundation for discussions of tier three vocabulary. As a music teacher, and more than likely a band director, my discipline specific vocabulary includes words such as dynamics, slurs, articulation, piano, forte, marcato, moderato, etc. Tier three vocabulary is very often taught in band through teacher-led discussion, but rarely taught through writing or student-led discussion. I hope to be able to allow this terraced version of teaching into my classroom in hopes of achieving a more fluent understanding of vocabulary for my students.

In order for students to learn vocabulary, students must use the vocabulary being taught. It must be modeled for them, they must learn the proper setting for the word, the meaning behind the word, the flexibility of the word, the function of the word, and then practice using the word in verbal and written discussion. Old methods of "fill in the blank", "define the term", "Write the definition 50 times", etc., have proven to be ineffective, and certainly do not include verbal discussion. Think of how children learn to speak - an adult models, they imitate, first words, then sentences, then learn how to interpret meaning and in turn, can discuss. Vocabulary must be taught just as intuitively. However, this isn't as easy to accomplish with more difficult terms. Teachers must model often and allow students multiple exposures to words to ensure understanding. Luckily in music, our vocabulary is often found in multiple pieces and method book exercises allowing for extensive daily exposure to words, concpets, and ideas.

Academic language is comprised of levels two and three of the Common Core Tiered Vocabulary method of teaching. These are words that move past common colliquialism and into more critical thinking aspects of discussions. These are words that are needed in the classroom, especially in writing. However, it's odd that students will often write more formally than they will talk. DIscussion in the classroom often does not mimic written academic langugage, but according to research methods, vocabulary must be used in verbal speech as well as written. In music, when a student is asked to discuss a piece, he or she is urged to think critically, beyond just "it sounds cool" or "the musician performed well" to something like "the chord progression is effective in communicating a feeling of excitement and energy because of a high execution of performance by the soloist."

Modeling Vocabulary

Vocabulary Learning Processes

Building a Musical Vocabulary Through Application

Cameron Elliott

In a middle school classroom, it's a little more difficult to include tier two vocabulary, as most of that vocabulary has not been learned yet. These are the early years of being able to hold and engage in academic discussion with students. However, I am trying to get them to begin using tier two words by asking them to "explain" or "expound" upon ides when they try to use general comments about a peice, or the way the class just performed a line, or what a composer might have been thinking when choosing a specific technique, etc. Tier three is very common within music. Tier two is more rare. I'm trying to get students to learn through reading academic articles about subject matter relating to class materials. For example, my 8th grade band annotated a research article on the origins of "Londonderry Air" an old irish folk tune that is very commonly arranged for band. The students were asked to list any unfamiliar vocabulary words and use context cluse to attempt to define the words, then list questions about the content, and then summarize each page. Many students had questions about teir two. In my feedback I plan to define unfamiliar words for them, and will remind them to use such words in class discussions when applicable.

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2008). Word wise and content rich: Five essential steps to teaching academic vocabulary. Portsmouth, NH: HeinemannHimmele, P., & Himmele, W. (2009) The language rich classroom: A research-based framework for teaching English langugage learners., Alexandria, VA:Heinle ELTK Tyson. (2013, May 26). No tears for tiers: Common core tiered vocabulary made easy.


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