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Pre-teach vocabulary

In this scenario, a teacher finds a relevant text that's too advanced for her students. Using the Lexile® Analyzer, she develops a key vocabulary list to pre-teach.

Ms. Ward reads an article in the morning newspaper about a fascinating scientific project. The woolly mammoth genome is being mapped from DNA taken from a mummified carcass. Among other things, the article discusses how the genome project may shed light on why and how animals become extinct.

For her fourth grade biology unit this week, Ms. Ward has been teaching concepts about habitat change, survival and adaptation. Extinction was discussed just yesterday. She would like to use this article in her class to make the abstract concepts more concrete. Also, all the students in her class are wild about mammoths and mummies.

But the article seems hard, so she wants to know its Lexile measure. Ms. Ward visits the newspaper's website, finds the article, and copies and pastes its text into a document file on her computer. She then removes the headline, subheadings and photo captions, logs in, and submits the file to the Lexile Analyzer. It measures 1290L —a text difficulty more appropriate for high school students than her nine-year-olds. Most of her students' reading abilities are between 600L and 850L . So Ms. Ward knows there will be a wide enough comprehension gap that even her best readers won't be able to get the conceptual content from the article.

Much of the highly technical language in the article is from genetics. Her students probably have never even heard the word "genome" before, so Ms. Ward is tempted to remove those sections of the article. But there might be an opportunity to teach something about genetics through the word "sequencing" that appears in the article. Her students know the word "sequence" from recent mathematics instruction on patterns. And genetic sequencing connects with the imminent lesson on adaptation because it lends context to the concept of genetic mutation.  

Ms. Ward compiles a vocabulary list of high-level words in the article that she plans to pre-teach:

  • genetics
  • genome
  • sequencing
  • evolution
  • Siberia
  • permafrost
  • decipher
  • isolate
  • blueprint
  • bacterial