Developing Vocabulary in Middle School Science

Science, like other disciplines, has a specialized vocabulary, encompassing both terms that represent scientific concepts and those that describe process skills. Although science education focuses on inquiry and hands-on experiences, current research shows that teachers must also help students develop vocabulary to be successful in both the content and methods of science.

However, this is often easier said than done. Many textbooks introduce 10-30 words per chapter – more than many introductory foreign language texts! In addition, students may struggle with “academic vocabulary” – words such as compare, distinguish, observe, and conclusion. Without guidance (or even formal training), a middle school science teacher may struggle to determine the best way to help students develop crucial vocabulary skills.

A new Explore in Depth publication from the Middle School Portal, Developing Science Vocabulary, can help teachers improve their vocabulary instruction. In this publication, you’ll find background information, best practices, tips for differentiating instruction and assessment, and resources for further reading. We hope you’ll check out Developing Science Vocabulary today!

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