Home » Uncategorized » Using academic words outside the classroom: Robust Academic Vocabulary Encounters (RAVE)

Using academic words outside the classroom: Robust Academic Vocabulary Encounters (RAVE)

ELL students and all students should be exposed to academic vocabulary in a 1:4 ratio.  For every one word introduced, they should practice using the word, reading the word, defining the word, and saying the word.  The RAVE active research project analyzed students participation in looking to hear words outside of school and writing down where and how the academic word was used in context.

This is a copy/paste summary of , “In The Media: Expanding Students’ Experience with Academic Vocabulary by: Margaret McKeown, Amy C. Crosson, Nancy J. Artz, Cheryl Sandora, Isabel Beck


In the Media is one part of a larger instructional intervention called Robust Academic Vocabulary Encounters
designed to enhance students’ knowledge of academic words and comprehension of academic texts
(McKeown et al, 2012). RAVE provides direct instruction of academic words selected from the Academic Word List (AWL; Coxhead, 2000). The AWL was developed from a 3.5-million-word corpus that covers 28 content domains
and consists of words that commonly appear across academic texts. For example, 10 of the words most
frequently found across domains are analysis, benefit, concept, derived, established, factors, indicate, legal, method, and occur.
Where students found the RAVE words
The answer is, everywhere! Books were the most common source, which we found very gratifying. Approximately
43% of the encounters came from books, as shown in Figure 4. Students found the words in their science books frequently. Commonly cited contexts included “potential energy,” “natural features,” and “a variety of processes.”
The students were reading Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl (Frank, 1952) in social studies and found the bookrich with instructed words, such as “sustained by her warmth and her wit,” and a reference to “traditions of theold empire.” Not surprisingly, out-of-school reading encounters in the Twilight series and The Hunger Games were common.

As might be expected, the next most common source was television, accounting for 35% of the submitted
word deposit slips. Quite a few encounters came from news and weather broadcasts, such as a forecast of
“isolated thunderstorms.” The Discovery Channel andAnimal Planet were popular, and the TNT hit Bones
was cited. Legal shows seemed popular, including NCIS and Harry’s Law, and the Food Network
got a
few mentions, such as “It is hard to sustain the flavor.” Other sources included the Internet, movies,
catalogs, and environmental print.

So what…?

Students who reported encountering fewer RAVE words included both students
with low gain scores as well as those with average and high gain scores. However, students who reported
encountering many different RAVE words had consistently high gain scores.

Take action!
1. Carefully choose words for direct instruction. In the Media can be a fun and effective supplement to, but
is not a substitute for, explicit vocabulary instruction. Select words to teach that have high utility andare likely to be used in a wide variety of contexts.
2. Decide on In the Media rewards, such as how many points students will need to earn a reward and
whether rewards will be given on an individual basis or if there also will be a class-level incentive.
3. Determine the information to be included on the word deposit slips. We ask students to provide their
name, date, the vocabulary word they encountered, the source, and to explain how the word was used.
4. Set parameters around sources. For example, will you give credit if students look for words on the
Internet (e.g., through a Google search) or if several students report the exact same encounter,
suggesting that they shared the source? All in all, fewer restrictions are better, as the goal is to
generate excitement and awareness about words.
5. Determine how you will keep track of students’ In the Media encounters — and make it public! A public
record reminds students of the challenge and can encourage talk among students about finding words.
6. Create the necessary materials. Our implementation of In the Media included an introductory brochure,
word list bookmarks, word deposit slips, record charts, and deposit slip boxes (for both blank and
completed slips.)
7. Determine how and when you will review the word deposits to assess whether students have met the
criteria to earn points.




Word you found it and how it was used:

Where I found it:


How can we supplement the limited time available for vocabulary instruction while motivating students to attend
to the words they are learning? As a part of an academic word vocabulary intervention, the authors challenged
sixth-grade students to find their words in the world around them.

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