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Building Academic Vocabulary in High School

This course supports high school teachers in implementing a key instructional shift outlined by the Common Core: more strategic selection and instruction of vocabulary words to improve students' reading comprehension and deepen understanding of key content area concepts.

About This Course

In this course, participants will develop strategies to support students in expanding their general academic language and improving their vocabulary acquisition. This includes:
  • focusing on tier two vocabulary words and the use of student-friendly definitions;
  • exploring activities and graphic organizers (e.g., semantic maps, cloze passages, connotations) that support repeated, contextualized vocabulary instruction in content areas; and
  • organizing instruction to provide students with multiple opportunities for review and practice with independent vocabulary strategies.

Session activities include short quizzes after viewing media or reading course material, a reflection journal, resource library exploration, and practicum assignments that provide participants with opportunities to apply their learning in the classroom. This course encourages reflection on common classroom practice to unpack traditional approaches and explore more effective ones.


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Simply Audit this Course

Can't commit to all of the lectures, assignments, and tests? Audit this course and have complete access to all of the course material, tests, people, portfolios, and the online discussion forum. You decide what and how much you want to do.

Try for a Certificate

Looking to test your mettle? Participate in all of the course's activities (we use the honor code around here) and if your work meets the 85% requirements, you'll receive a personalized certificate to showcase your achievement. You can also apply for course credit (if desired).

Course Staff

Sarah Feldman

Sarah Feldman is a Senior Research Associate at WestEd and project director for Beyond the Workshop, an online teacher professional development initiative. She has taught secondary history and worked as an administrator of a large public middle school in CA. She trained principals for urban California schools and has facilitated in-person professional development workshops for school administrators and teachers. She taught graduate-level literacy courses for teacher certification and developed training tools in Adolescent Literacy for the Doing What Works project. Sarah has developed and facilitated Beyond the Workshop courses for three years. Sarah received a BA in history from Brown University; a M.Ed from Harvard University, M.A from San Francisco State University, and an Ed.D from Mills College.

Seewan Eng

Seewan Eng is a Research Associate at WestEd and leads the design and development of online teacher professional development courses as well as online toolkits and resource libraries for the U.S. Department of Education. Seewan taught middle and high school for nine years, including a K-8 teacher-run school in San Francisco USD where she co-led summer institutes and staff development. As a trained facilitator and teacher leader, she has also led site-based professional learning communities focusing on literacy and data-based instruction to close the achievement gap. She is currently on the advisory board of the San Francisco Coalition of Essential Small Schools, which provides coaching, technical assistance, and professional development to a network of schools focused on equity, inquiry, and achievement. Seewan received a BA in educational studies and American history from Brown University; an EdM in teaching and curriculum in social studies from Harvard University; and National Board Certification.

It is strongly recommended that participants in this online course are current classroom teachers or have access to students in order to be able to implement the practicum assignments developed as part of the session activities.
Sarah Feldman, Seewan Eng
Course Code: ELA201H
Course Release: Jan 13, 2014
Estimated Effort: 15 Hours

Suggested Prerequisites:
It is strongly recommended that participants in this online course are current classroom teachers or have access to students in order to be able to implement the practicum assignments developed as part of the session activities.

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