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Readers make leaders!
Paige James

Students in Rexanna Ellison’s 2nd grade class are using academic vocabulary to successfully access complex texts.

One of the academic shifts designed to ready Tennessee students for career and college success deals with text complexity. Students read texts that grow with complexity as they progress through grade levels. One way that teachers support students in accessing complex texts is through academic vocabulary, most often focusing on cross-curricular words (justify, predict) or words that are domain-specific (isotope, tectonic plates). Reading comprehension, especially in nonfiction, is hugely dependent upon a solid grasp of vocabulary relevant to the topic.

Mrs. Ellison’s 2nd grade class at Rush Strong School is currently learning about the layers of the Earth in the Earth Science Unit Starter. Students are exposed to the vocabulary words within various texts and through explicit instruction using vocabulary cards and games during center time. To further solidify their knowledge, students are expected to use the words in their writing about the topic. These activities directly address the content of the standards which calls for a mix of conversation, direct instruction, reading and writing.

Highlight images about the Earth's outer core and mantle.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of these strategies, 3rd grade teachers have reported how impressed they are with their students’ knowledge of the vocabulary and content for the 3rd grade Matter and Its Interactions Unit Starter. They have stated that their students have a working background knowledge of the content as a direct result of their work in 2nd grade.

Great work teachers and students at Rush Strong School!!

Student Work: Paragraph on what makes each layer of the Earth unique.
Student Work: Labeled image of Earth's layers.
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