Application of Academic
Language for CCSS and
SMARTER Balanced
Department Chair and Teacher Leader
Kim Kumar and Dawn Abrams
Academic Discourse:
The kinds of language used in academic
District Wide Focus
Academic Language Strategies:
oAcademic Register
oEffective Collaboration (Productive
oAcademic Vocabulary
oSentence Frames
Language-Laden CCSS Emphases
• Reading: Narrative and Informational Text Analysis,
Synthesis, Text-Dependent Questions
• Vocabulary: Domain-Specific and High-Use Vocabulary for
Academic Literacy/Communication(Details to follow)
• Writing: Informational Text Summary, Evidence-Based
Response to Text, Argumentation
• Language: Academic Discourse/Formal Register(Details to
• Collaboration: Partner/Group/Class Interaction (Details to
Let’s try a sample performance task!
• Highlight or circle the domain specific academic vocabulary
in this task.
• Think about the level of academic language needed to
respond to this task and be ready to share with your elbow
Academic Register
“We tend to write the way we speak.”
Academic Register
• The type of language used in a given situation
oFor example:
• Writing a text message to invite a friend to a party
• Writing an email message to a teacher requesting
an extension on a research report
• Asking a coach for permission to miss practice
• Asking a manager at an internship to clarify
expectations for a task
• Writing an essay
• Writing a letter to a Board
• Writing letter of intent to a college
Academic Register
What challenges do recent immigrants face when first arriving in a new
Informal Verbal
Formal Constructed
Verbal Response
One challenge that
recent immigrants
The language
face is learning an
entirely new
Learning English language.
Formal, Brief Written
One challenge faced
by recent immigrants is
learning an entirely
new language. English
communication and
literacy skills are
critical for adult
immigrants if they want
to have jobs that pay
well or attend college.
Productive Partnering
Academic Discussions
Collaboration Options for Academic
Identifying Partners
• Elbow Partners/Adjacent
• Eyeball/Mirror Image
Naming Partners
• Partner A and Partner B
• Partner 1 and Partner 2
Lower Your Voice =
Use a Private, Scholarly Voice
• Speak 2 x slower
than you normally
• In my opinion, a
productive partner
interest in my ideas
• Emphasize key
when she makes eye
• Pause at the end of contact with me.
Language to Listen Attentively
Academic English
• Huh?
• Will you please repeat that?
• What?
• Will you please restate your idea?
• What do you mean?
• I don’t get it.
• Can you explain what you mean
by ___?
• I don’t quite understand your __
example, reason, question
decision, perspective, concern
Academic Discussion: Steps
1. Decide on the partnering configuration
2. Give prompt regarding what will be discussed
3. Give time frame for sharing
4. Go
Academic Discussion: Steps
Decide on the partnering configuration
oEyeball/Mirror Partners and 1s and 2s
• Look at your mirror partner
• Decide who is a 1 and who is a 2
• 1s raise your hand, 2s raise your hand
Give prompt regarding what will be discussed
oDiscuss with your partner:
• How will common core impact your classroom instruction?
Give time frame for sharing
oYou will have 30 seconds each to share
o2s you have 30 seconds to answer the prompt
oThen 1s you have 30 seconds to answer the prompt
Academic Vocabulary
Academic Vocabulary
Tier 2
High frequency/
Tier 3
Low frequency/
Academic Vocabulary
Consists of the
most basic words,
rarely requires
attention to their
meanings in school
Frequency is high and
is used across a
variety of domains.
Contains multiple
meanings. Promotes
cognitive function
Frequency of use is
low and limited to
specific domains,
best learned when a
specific need arises
Walk, cup, want,
clock, baby, happy
analyze, approach,
benefit, estimate,
evaluate, method,
Isotope, lathe,
peninsula, refinery
Tier 1
Tier 2: Academic Vocabulary
● Used across a variety of environments. Words
for which students understand the general
concept, but need greater precision and
specificity in describing a concept or a person,
such as: sets, tables, power, round and route,
(for math or science, or for a table of contents
● Words that are important and useful for
comprehension of the text, such as: character,
setting, plot, caption
Tier 2: Academic Vocabulary
Some Criteria for Identifying Tier Two Words
● Importance and utility: Words that are characteristic of
mature language users and appear frequently across
a variety of domains.
● Instructional potential: Words that can be worked with
in a variety of ways so that students can build rich
representations of them and of their connections to
other words and concepts.
● Conceptual understanding: Words for which students
understand the general concept but provide precision
and specificity in describing the concept.
Tier 3 Vocabulary
Generalizations from Research
• Students must encounter words in context more than once in
order to learn them.
• Instruction of new words in context enhances learning those
• One of the best ways to learn a new word is to associate an
image with it.
• Direct instruction works.
• Direct instruction on words that are critical to new content
produces the most powerful learning.
High-Utility Word Instruction
tend to
to usually do a
_____________ thing
Students tend to get
restless at school on
rainy days because they
a ____________ of
doing something
After several rainy
school days, teachers
have a tendency to
become ________
tend to
tend to
to usually do a
Students tend to get
restless at school on
rainy days because they
don’t have the
opportunity to get
fresh air.
usual way
a ____________
doing something
After several rainy
school days, school
teachers have a
tendency to become
tend to
tendencies (plural)
Academic Vocabulary Template
Coxhead’s Academic Word List
(570 High-Utility Academic Word Families)
Group 1/10 (Highest Incidence):
benefit concept consist context
economy environment establish estimate factor finance
formula function income indicate individual interpret
involve issue labor legal major method occur percent
principle section significant similar source specific
structure. . .
word family: assume, v. assumed, adj. assumption, n.
Source: (Averil Coxhead, 2000)
Webb’s DOK
Question Stems as Starters for
Sentence Frames
A Sentence Starter Does Not Ensure Competent Language
Production Everytime
• Sentence Starter: I could lead a healthier
lifestyle by
• Predictable Informal Responses
oUm…I won’t eat junk food.
oSleep better.
oWell, no more Cheetos and sodas.
oEating more healthy stuff.
Sentence Starter vs. Sentence Frame
• Sentence Starters require students
to already know how to accurately
complete the sentence
• Sentence Frames add essential
grammatical support so students
can produce a competent response in
the appropriate register.
A Sentence Frame to Promote
Use of Academic Register
• What challenges do you face when wanting to lead a
healthier lifestyle?
• One challenge that I face is ____ (verb + ing) adjusting
my schedule to incorporate `exercise.
• Verb Bank:
dealing with
adjusting to
Sentence Frames
• Sentence frames help students use and understand
vocabulary and better understand correct sentence
• Remember to always model the expected outcomes of
the lesson.
• For example, if the intent is to use correct grammar,
develop sentence frames that address the vocabulary +
verb tense that students are working on and have them
write sentence frames too.
Sentence Frames
• The sentence structure needs to take into account the
functions you want the student to understand.
• When developing academic vocabulary words, make
certain that students understand the meaning of the
word and provide sufficient examples and modeling.
• Establish a purpose for the sentence frame.
• The purpose of the sentence frame is to support the use
of specific types of words: conjunctions, transitions,
articles, adjectives, comparative, verb tense, subjectverb agreement, as well as the structures for
compound/complex sentences.
With A Flair
Academic Discourse
is Characterized by Use of…
• complete, complex, more lengthy sentences
with embedded clauses
• precise and technical vocabulary
oDomain Specific Words (publisher’s
oHigh-Utility Words (language of the test or
Academic Discussion Routine Elements
• a written, visibly-displayed prompt
• adequate think time and brainstorming
• sentence frame(s) to model and guide use of academic
• structured partner rehearsal/interaction
• active listening tasks
• contributions from a range of students
• conscientious monitoring
Transition to Academic Discourse
Partner Discussion Directions
• Partner 1: Discuss your response with your partner twice
oFirst time: State your response in a complete sentence
using the response frame
oSecond time: Make eye contact and say it with
• Partner 2: Listen attentively and restate the response
• Switch roles
oB: discuss, A: listen and restate
• Remember the 4Ls.
So, you find it successful to …
•Yes! That’s accurate…
•Actually, I plan to ….
Productive Partners: Discuss
So, you find it successful to …
•Yes! That’s accurate…
•Actually, I plan to ….
Inclusive Participation
“Student Accountability”
Structuring Inclusive Participation Options
• Preselect 1-2 students to initiate class discussion
• Invite a reticent participant with a strong response
to contribute when you ask for volunteers
• Encourage partner nominations
• Invite all partner 1s/2s to stand and report
• Randomly select 1-2 students
• Allow a reporter to select the next
• Ask for volunteers from sections of the classroom
Language to Select Reporters
Everyday English
I pick…
I want…
Let’s hear from…
How about…?
Academic English
• I select…
• I choose…
• I nominate…
• I’d like to hear from…
• I’d appreciate a
contribution from…
Use Your Public Voice
When Reporting During Class Discussion
A Public, Scholarly Voice:
• Sit up straight.
• Move hands away from face.
• Project your voice: 3x louder
than your private voice.
• Speak to the classmate
furthest away from you.
• Pause appropriately.
• Emphasize key words.
Requests for Audible Contributions
Everyday English
Academic English
• Please repeat that using
your public voice.
Come again?
What did you say?
I didn’t get that.
Speak up. We can’t
hear you.
• Please say that again
audibly so __ can hear.
• Thank you. This time, sit up
and project your voice.
• Three times louder, using
professional voice.
What can I implement tomorrow, next month, next year?

Academic Language for CCSS and SMARTER Balanced