Building Academic Language: Meeting Common Core Standards Across Disciplines, Grades 5-12

Building Academic Language: Meeting Common Core Standards Across Disciplines, Grades 5-12

by Jeff Zwiers


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Building Academic Language: Meeting Common Core Standards Across Disciplines, Grades 5-12 by Jeff Zwiers

“Of the over one hundred new publications on the CommonCore State Standards (CCSS), this one truly stands out! In thesecond edition of Building Academic Language, Jeff Zwierspresents a much-needed, comprehensive roadmap to cultivatingacademic language development across all disciplines, this timeplacing the rigor and challenges of the CCSS front and center. Amust-have resource!”
—Andrea Honigsfeld, EdD, Molloy College

“Language is critical to the development of contentlearning as students delve more deeply into specific disciplines.When students possess strong academic language, they are betterable to critically analyze and synthesize complex ideas andabstract concepts. In this second edition of Building AcademicLanguage, Jeff Zwiers successfully builds the connectionsbetween the Common Core State Standards and academic language. Thisis the ‘go to’ resource for content teachers as theytransition to the expectations for college and careerreadiness.”
—Katherine S. McKnight, PhD, National LouisUniversity

With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) bymost of the United States, students need help developing theirunderstanding and use of language within the ­academiccontext. This is crucially important throughout middle school andhigh school, as the subjects ­discussed and concepts taughtrequire a firm grasp of language in order to understand the greatercomplexity of the subject matter. Building AcademicLanguage shows teachers what they can do to help theirstudents grasp language principles and develop the language skillsthey’ll need to reach their highest levels of academicachievement.

The Second Edition of Building Academic Languageincludes new strategies for addressing specific Common Corestandards and also provides answers to the most important questionsacross various content areas, including:

  • What is academic language and how does it differ by contentarea?
  • How can language-building activities support contentunderstanding for students?
  • How can teachers assist students in using language moreeffectively, especially in the academic context?
  • How can academic language usage be modeled routinely in theclassroom?
  • How can lesson planning and assessment support academiclanguage development?

An essential resource for teaching all students, this bookexplains what every teacher needs to know about language forsupporting reading, writing, and academic learning.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781118744857
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 04/14/2014
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 236,830
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

JEFF ZWIERS, EdD, is a senior researcher at the StanfordUniversity Graduate School of Education. He consultsinternationally on language and literacy instruction, curriculumdevelopment, and teacher education program development. A formermiddle school language arts teacher, he has also taught teacherpreparation courses at the university level.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition ix

1 Understanding How Students Use Language 1

This chapter introduces foundational social and culturalperspectives of complex uses of languages in and out of school. Itexplores ways in which the Common Core State Standards provide newopportunities and challenges with respect to building academiclanguage. These standards present new cognitive and literacytargets that can be reached only with heightened cultivation ofacademic language, the language used to describe complex ideas,abstract concepts, and critical thinking.

2 Language Skills Required by the Common Core State Standards21

This chapter clarifies the functions and features of academiclanguage with direct references to the Common Core State Standards.This includes academic grammar and discourse levels of languageuse. Science, math, and history teachers must teach the use oflanguage beyond vocabulary knowledge, given that each disciplineemphasizes different ways of thinking and communicating in complexways. When students learn these ways of using language, they gainaccess to the codes and strategies that accelerate theirdisciplinary abilities and knowledge.

3 Cultivating Academic Language Acquisition 47

This chapter provides an overview of how students acquirelanguage, along with key teacher habits and strategies for modelingand scaffolding its development across content areas. This chapteralso helps us improve our own language use in classroomsettings.

4 Content-Area Variations of Academic Language 79

Given that not all disciplines are alike in their content,thinking, and ways of communicating, this chapter describesvariations of language that correspond to the main content areastaught in schools: math, language arts, history, and science. Thischapter addresses some of the shifts in instruction that haveemerged in response to the Common Core State Standards.

5 Facilitating Whole-Class Discussions for Content andLanguage Development 113

The focus of this chapter is on making whole-class discussionsmore effective for building academic language, content knowledge,and thinking skills. The chapter starts with a rationale for usingclassroom talk in a variety of settings and offers tips for leadingdiscussions in ways that deepen and extend student thinking, asopposed to just promoting the accumulation of facts. The chapteroffers more effective alternatives to common questioning strategiesand teacher-controlled formats such asinitiation-response-feedback. The latter half of the chapterexamines improving academic listening, engaging all students inwhole-class communication activities, and building language throughsimulations and role plays. Examples of Common Core State Standardsare used in the activities.

6 Academic Listening and Speaking in Small Groups and Pairs151

Building oral academic language, content knowledge, and thinkingskills in pairs and small groups is important. This chapter offersideas for supporting small group and pair discussions in ways thatdeepen and extend student thinking, as well as create ideas, asopposed to just regurgitating someone else’s knowledge.Examples of Common Core State Standards are used in theactivities.

7 Language for Reading Complex Texts 183

This chapter looks at the language of reading, emphasizing thelearning of language skills beyond vocabulary to help incomprehending difficult texts, as outlined by the Common Core StateStandards. It also includes a section on teaching content area andgeneral academic vocabulary in context.

8 Language for Creating Complex Texts 219

This chapter provides ways to develop language for the types ofacademic writing addressed in the Common Core State Standards. Itemphasizes a deep analysis of the complex ways in which studentsmust think, organize, fortify, negotiate, and communicate knowledgein a discipline as experts might do. It provides ideas formodeling, scaffolding, and analyzing texts that students will beasked to write.

9 Building Language Development into Lessons and Assessments245

This chapter introduces ways to formatively and summativelyassess ways of using academic language to show learning of CommonCore State Standards, as well as hints for planning for instructionbased on assessments. It emphasizes the importance of identifyingthe thinking and language that we want students to learn before weleap into instruction.

10 Concluding Thoughts 281

This book ends with some final thoughts and next steps forweaving the ideas presented in it into daily practice.

Appendix A – Recommended Resources on Academic Language287

Appendix B – Frequently Used Academic Words 293

Appendix C – Suggestions for Before, During, and AfterMinilectures 299

About the Author 303

About the International Reading Association 305

Index 307

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