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Vocabulary Strategy Demonstration Reflection

Rachel Ritacco
University of New England
EDU 742


Vocabulary Strategy Demonstration Reflection
The 2012-2013 School Improvement Plan that was developed for Martin Kellogg Middle
School (Newington, CT) strived to improve student performance by implementing scientifically
researched strategies for vocabulary instruction. One of the programs that the school adopted was
Dr. Robert Marzanos Six Step Process for Building Academic Vocabulary.
This six step strategy can be used in any content area. This process works well with all
vocabulary that is perceived as being important for the students to fully understand. These words
may be challenging words found in the text that are critical for understanding the content such as
revolve and rotate are when students read about the movement in the solar system.
Additionally, the vocabulary can be words that students need in order to be successful in a
content area such as direction-orientated words like elaborate, specific, and conjugate.
This strategy does not require much in regards to resources. In the first three steps,
students organize their understanding on the vocabulary word in a graphic organizer. It is useful
for the students to keep these sheets in a notebook so that they could modify and refer to them. In
the fourth step, students are challenged to use the term in a variety of activities to help develop a
deeper understanding of the word. This step requires the teacher to provide these activities and/or
worksheets. The fifth step requires the students to interact with their peers. Students should
understand the expectations for cooperative learning well ahead of this step. Finally, the sixth
step is where students participate in culminating activities or games that review the terms. Many
of these games require the teacher to prepare ahead of time.
The six step process frontloads the vocabulary so that students do not lose their
concentration when reading. When students come across the term, they have already manipulated

it and where in turn developed a deeper understanding of it. The students are actively engaged in
the reading because they are confident when they encounter these challenging words.
Proficient readers are metacognative. During this six step process, students are doing just
that. They are thinking and using their schema to develop deeper understanding of the
vocabulary terms. In step three, the students visualize the vocabulary word in the context. Step
four requires students to manipulate the terms and results in the students identifying word parts,
comparing the words, creating metaphors that relate to the term and producing lists of synonyms
and antonyms. These activities may be fun for the students but they will become tools for the
students when they encounter unknown words in the future.
The six step process is fairly adaptable. The terms selected could be selected to suit the
reader. The activities students participate in during steps four through six can also be modified to
suit the need of the learner. For instance, if I were to teach the students about planetary
movement within the solar system, appropriate text would be selected to meet the needs of my
students abilities. However, the terms rotate and revolve would most likely appear
regardless. All of the students would have those terms, but what activities they engage in may
vary to align with their particular strength. Additionally, gifted students may already have a
greater understanding of some vocabulary words. Through the complexity of the activities that
are provided, the students will develop an even deeper understanding.
One of the main reasons content-area material is so demanding for students is due to the
complex vocabulary demands. Altieri (2011) explains that there are three types of vocabulary:
general, specialized and technical. The six step process can be used to target the specialized and
technical words that students find in content area text. Furthermore, Shanahan & Shanahan

(2008) discussed how many scientific texts have nominalizationthe transformation of a verb to
a noun was found in science and history text. When students expand their understanding of the
vocabulary, they will not be thrown by the term being used in another manner. Altieri (2011)
says that it is important to get technical vocabulary terms in students speaking vocabulary. Step
five of the process has students interact and the terms quickly are at home in their working
As you can see, Dr. Robert Marzanos vocabulary strategy delivers. Teachers can use this
versatile process in any content area with the desired outcome. Students are engaged in this
process and the familiarity of the steps helps students obtain a foundation of tools to use with
challenging text.


Altieri, J.L. (2011). Content counts! Developing disciplinary literacy skills, K-6. Newark, DE:
International Reading Association.
Marzano, R. & Pickering, D. (2005). Six Step Process for Building Academic Vocabulary.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Shanahan, C. & Shanahan, T. (2008). Teaching disciplinary literacy to adolescents: Rethinking
content-area literacy. Harvard Educational Review, 78(1), 40-59.