• Learn more about the Academic Word Finder

    Tier 2 (academic vocabulary) words appear in many different contexts and are often subtle or precise ways to say relatively simple things, for example “relative” or “accumulate". Since these aren't words that will typically be used in a student's conversations and they aren't domain-specific, they should be given more focus than Tier 1 and Tier 3 vocabulary.

    The Academic Word Finder produces a list of words that are not too common and not too rare. That said, there may be other academic vocabulary words the tool does not highlight (ones that that are either rare or common) that a teacher determines are important to the text. This tool doesn't replace teacher judgment; rather it helps to support the teacher in identifying which academic words to consider first. Teachers also must gauge what words are most effective for their students' current vocabulary levels.

    In addition, the academic vocabulary identified in a text can be a proxy for text complexity, though it does not replace the work a teacher does to fully analyze a text for complexity. 

    Academic vocabulary is integral to the Shift of Complexity: regular practice with complex text and its academic language. The resources below explain how to effectively use the Academic Word Finder and the relationship between academic vocabulary and complex text.

  • What's Included in the Academic Word Finder

    Select and enter into the tool a passage from a complex text along with the grade level being taught. The tool then identifies the academic vocabulary for the selected grades, as well as words that fall into grade levels both above and below, and provides student-friendly definitions, parts of speech and sample sentences.

  • How to Use the Academic Word Finder

    Once you determine which words are most relevant for your students, you can print or export them to create a handout or quiz. Start by explaining to your students that some words have many meanings and teach the meaning that matches the one in the text. There are many proven activities to build student vocabulary which you can then use with your students. Some examples include:

    • Ask students to create pictures to show the meaning of the word
    • Encourage students to use the word in context, either in speaking or writing
    • Create a list of synonyms and antonyms
    • Develop a student dictionary, for students to reference
    • Display a word wall
  • What Makes a Text Complex

    Rather than focusing exclusively on literacy skills, the Common Core State Standards set expectations for the complexity of texts students need to be able to read to be ready for college and careers. To choose texts that are on grade level for the CCSS, follow three steps:

    1. Use quantitative measures to assign a text to a grade band.
    2. Use qualitative measures to locate a text within a specific grade band.
    3. Use professional judgment to decide how suited a text is for a specific instructional purpose with a particular set of students.

    The Text Complexity Collection includes research to support understanding of why text complexity matters and tools designed to guide text complexity analyses.

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  • The Importance of Vocabulary

    Vocabulary research paper and 4 practice exercises for teachers, coaches, and school leaders to use in PD or self-teaching on vocabulary instruction with the Common Core.  

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  • Special Thanks to Wordsmyth

    All definitions and sample sentences within the Academic Word Finder are provided generously by Wordsmyth. ©2015 Wordsmyth. All rights reserved. For inquiries about the use of these items, contact Wordsmyth.