Academic Vocabulary Strategies Module

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Level 3 - This level will help you to plan for and incorporate research-based vocabulary strategies in your instruction.

1) Power Standards Unwrapping Template

According to Ainsworth (2010), unwrapping priority standards is an important step in creating a rigorous unit. "Only by examining the actual wording of a standard can educators decide for themselves what a standard signifies in terms of student learning outcomes" (Ainsworth, 2010, p. 119). In addressing student learning outcomes, the process of unwrapping standards helps educators to identify the academic vocabulary that needs to be taught. Use the Power Standards Unwrapping Template below to assist you in unwrapping standards.

Power Standards Unwrapping Template

2) Marzano's Planning Tool

Use this tool to help you incorporate Marzano's 6 Step Process into your instruction.

Marzano's Planning Tool

3) Vocabulary Rubric

Use the rubric below, in conjunction with Marzano's Planning Tool and the Power Standards Unwrapping Template, to evaluate which words need to be taught.

Vocabulary Rubric

4) Important Points to Remember

The following link contains a compilation of notes taken from the book Focus by Mike Schmoker. It will be beneficial to keep his points in mind as your are planning not only vocabulary instruction, but all instruction.

Important Points to Remember

5) Student Examples

Below are examples of how students demonstrated vocabulary acquisition through visual representation in a science class. These examples can be used to inform your planning process as well as to model expectations for students during instruction. 


6) Additional Student Examples

Vocabulary Circle Map – A Circle Map can be used to help students practice academic language or vocabulary. According to Hyerle (1993) circle maps can be used to define words and to apply meaning within context. The student is using a Tier 2 word from the book Serafina and the Black Cloak to create a vocabulary circle map. The student wrote the word and the sentence from the text containing the word. Then she formulated her own definition, illustration, and synonym to practice understanding the vocabulary word.

Bridge Map - Students can determine synonyms (or antonyms) of vocabulary words using a bridge map. Further students can also define words using bridge maps. According to Hyerle (1993), bridge maps help students “form analogies” (p. 9).

This student is using three vocabulary words from a 6th grade released North Carolina Reading test. The student selects three words from the text (either from the passage or the questions) to define within a bridge map. The bridge map uses the concept of “as defined as” to help the student determine meanings of unfamiliar words to build academic vocabulary.


Ainsworth, L. (2010). Rigorous curriculum design: How to create curricular units of study that align          

            standards, instruction, and assessment. Englewood, Colo.: Lead Learn Press.

Hyerle, D. (1993). Thinking Maps: Seeing is understanding. Retrieved from