Word Generation, 6-8

Word Generation is a research-based academic language vocabulary program designed to teach words through language arts, math, science, and social studies. The program uses several strategies and is meant to be implemented school-wide (or across an entire grade or team within a school).

The program consists of weekly units that introduce five high-utility target words through brief passages outlining controversies currently under debate in this country. The paragraphs are intended to help students join ongoing "national conversations" by sparking active examination and discussion of contemporary issues.

It includes communicative intents (affirm and confirm, for example), argumentation (words such as evidence, conclusion and warrant), abstract entities (theory, factor, process, to name a few) and categories (such as vehicle, utensil and artifact). The target words are presented in the context of a paragraph that displays academic writing and introduces a thought-provoking topic of interest to adolescents—for example: What should we do about global warming? Is censoring books in school libraries justified? Should schools stop serving junk food? Should hip-hop lyrics that incite violence and demean women be allowed?

Activities provided for content-area teachers highlight authentic uses of the target words. These activities link to standards and skills expected of students within the various content areas (for example, interpreting a bar graph on the incidence of obesity as a math activity, debating the censorship question as a social studies activity, analyzing the use of non-literal language in hip-hop lyrics as an English language arts activity).

The site includes student and teacher materials and videotapes professional development.