As you know, when the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts were released, we all learned about the Instructional Shifts. As you read about the Common Core and the changes it brings, you’ll see two basic lists of the shifts – one with three items and one with six. The list with 3 shifts simply combines some of the shifts. I prefer to keep the shifts separated, as shown below.
In case you’re wondering whether or not the shifts matter, I want to let you know they do. All six of them. But as with anything, you’ll have to figure out how to use them and make them work for you in your school or district. When thinking about the shifts, there are at least a few times and ways you can use them: (1) Develop curriculum, (2) Design high-impact lessons for students, (3), Design aligned assessments to the college and career readiness standards, and (4) Design professional development experiences for teachers and administrators.
Now, I want to share each of the shifts with you – one at a time – in hopes there’s a thing or two you can use. Today’s shift is Vocabulary.
In using my shift pages, you’ll want to know how I’ve set them up. I’ve designed a format for beginning to think about each of the shifts. The following visual, How the Shifts Are Set Up, shows my logic in thinking about the shifts. Take a quick look.
After a quick description of the shift, you’ll see two areas: one that provides hints for curriculum and another that provides hints for instruction and the possible professional needs of staff.
By way of example, there’s a shift that speaks to text-based answers. It’s a standard in the curriculum – and teachers need to understand what it means. We all need to understand what it means; it’s even being tested as part of the redesigned SAT. Remember, evidence is king in the CCSS – so I chose it for the example.
Now, take a look at Shift 6, Vocabulary. I chose to present this one to you first as so many schools and districts are focusing on vocabulary development.
For the Common Core ELA standards (including the literacy standards), Academic Vocabulary is a big shift. As you can see from the visual, the focus should be on pivotal and commonly found words. (The redesigned SAT will focus on Tier II words in context, but that’s not why we need to focus on vocabulary. We need to focus on vocabulary because it will help our students learn.)
If you’re working on curriculum at the district, school, or classroom levels, there are a number of ways you can provide support for academic vocabulary.
Integrate shift in curriculum units:
- Place vocabulary throughout lessons, where appropriate, rather than at end of units.
- Provide activities for students to work with words
- Identify core vocabulary . Use sources such as SBAC, PAARC, Tier II, and Tier III words.
- Provide descriptions of core vocabulary
- Provide content cards where needed.
- Provide a list of core vocabulary words and corresponding descriptions for units.
Additionally, as you are thinking about professional development, consider some of the examples:
- Direct Explicit Instruction for Vocabulary
- How to Develop School-wide Vocabulary Supports for Students
- How to Determine Core Vocabulary for a Course, Department, and/or School
- High-Impact Vocabulary Strategies
- How to Help Students Track Their Own Learning of Vocabulary Words
- Tier II Words
- Tier III Words (for social studies, science, and technical subjects)
- Helping Students With Their Own Word-Learning Activities
- Effective Strategies for Teaching New Words
I so hope some of these ideas will be helpful to you as you support schools in improving achievement.
Common Core Standards for Literacy in Science (Includes ideas for vocabulary.)