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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We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/09/2012.