Posts Tagged ‘academic words list’

Diagnostic Academic Language Assessments

Three questions about Diagnostic Academic Language Assessments: 1. What if you were able to administer comprehensive diagnostic language assessments to determine exactly which Tier 2 academic words your students do and do not know? 2. What if these assessments were ordered by research-based frequency to help you pinpoint instructional levels?  There are, and these assessments are absolutely free to administer in self-correcting Google forms.

Rationale: In addition to explicit instruction in Greek and Latin Morphology, figures of speech, word relationships, multiple meanings, and connotations, teachers know the importance of teaching academic language, thanks to the research of Beck, Isabel L. McKeown, M., & Kucan, L. (2002).

Yes, but which words? High frequency and utility seem like sensible selection criteria. Accordingly, I put together Dr. Averil Coxhead’s research-based Academic Word List in self-correcting Google forms as diagnostic assessments to inform instruction. I divided into grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 assessments, each with 56 words and matching definitions. Happy to share:

And question 3… What if there were comprehensive grade-level vocabulary programs (4, 5, 6, 7, and 8), which provided the corresponding instructional resources for each academic language word on the assessments and Greek and Latin Morphology (with Morphology Walls in interactive Google slides), figures of speech, word relationships, multiple meanings, and connotations? There are… check out the extensive previews for Comprehensive Vocabulary by Pennington Publishing.

Grades 4-8 Comprehensive Vocabulary

Comprehensive Vocabulary

If you would like to read more about how Dr. Coxhead developed her Academic Word List and download a free copy of the list, visit

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Common Core Vocabulary: 12 Program Assessment Questions

Although much of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects affirm what elementary and secondary ELA/reading teachers have always been doing, the breadth, complexity, and depth of instruction in vocabulary may be a noteworthy exception.

The writers of the Common Core State Standards include vocabulary development among a variety of instructional Strands across the curriculum and grade levels. Additionally, the appendices add significant discussion on vocabulary acquisition. Perhaps a brief self-assessment of 12 basic questions may be in order.

Common Core Vocabulary: 12 Program Assessment Questions

  1. Outside of independent reading, would you say that the bulk of your vocabulary instruction is planned and purposeful or incidental and “as the need arises?”
  2. Do you teach vocabulary across the curriculum? Using the same strategies?
  3. How do you teach Tier II and Tier III academic language words? Which words do you teach and how were they determined?
  4. Do you and your colleagues teach a purposeful scope and sequence of vocabulary instruction across the grade levels?
  5. Do you teach the connection between vocabulary and spelling/syllabication?
  6. Do you teach grade level multiple meaning words? How were these words chosen? Which words do your colleagues teach?
  7. Do you teach specific context clues strategies?
  8. Do you teach Greek and Latin word parts? Which do you teach? Which do your colleagues teach?
  9. Do you teach dictionary and thesaurus research skills?
  10. Do you teach word figures of speech? How were these words chosen? Which words do your colleagues teach?
  11. Do you teach word relationships? How were these words chosen? Which words do your colleagues teach?
  12. Do you teach word connotations?

In a nutshell the Common Core Vocabulary Standards do establish the instructional expectations included in the above questions:

The Reading Strand in both Literature and Informational Text includes the same Standard (8.4): Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.


The Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects Standards include Vocabulary Standard RST 8.4: Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics.


The Language Strand devotes three separate Standards: L.4, 5, 6 to vocabulary acquisition.

Pennington Publishing's Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary  Grades 4-8 Programs

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary Grades 4-8 Programs

  • Multiple Meaning Words and Context Clues (L.4.a.)
  • Greek and Latin Word Parts (L.4.a.)
  • Language Resources (L.4.c.d.)
  • Figures of Speech (L.5.a.)
  • Word Relationships (L.5.b.)
  • Connotations (L.5.c.)
  • Academic Language Words (L.6.0)

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics lessons. The complete lessons also include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6).

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