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Strategies to Teach Critical Vocabulary

The purpose of this course is to teach educators how to increase their students’ success in school and in life by building their vocabulary and their understanding of critical words. The vocabulary discussed in this course is highly relevant in both academic and social situations. Participants will discover how to use new and old strategies in creating personal toolboxes and assess useful strategies to integrate vocabulary throughout the curriculum. This course also focuses on the use of technology to further extend understanding and to provide tools to capture the attention of twenty-first century learners.

*In this course when we refer to learning standards, please use the standards that your district is currently implementing.
Carlow University ED 648 • Madonna University EDU 5960.36 • Mercy University EDUT 546
The required text for this course is 

Bringing Words to Life; Robust Vocabulary Instruction by Isabel L. Beck, Margaret G. McKeown and Linda Kucan



Graduate participants earn 3 semester hours of graduate credit and will receive a transcript from one of our partner institutions below. Professional development participants will receive a certificate of completion for 45 hours of professional developments credit for face-to-face classes and 60 hours of professional development credit for online classes.

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Course Schedule

  • 2/13/24 - 5/14/24
  • 4/9/24 - 7/9/24
  • 6/11/24 - 9/10/24
  • 8/13/24 - 11/12/24
  • 10/8/24 - 1/14/25
  • 12/10/24 - 3/11/25

Course Schedule

Summer 2024

  • July 12-14 & July 26-28
  • Ingrid Melhus

Module 1: Researching the Importance of Vocabulary


  • Member Introductions and Ice Breaker Activity
  • Define vocabulary
  • Explain the Three Tiers and the “How” of Teaching Vocabulary
  • Discuss the critical words
  • Reflections on the Introduction

Module 2: Processing and Storing Vocabulary


  • Discussion on how the mind works focusing on the gradual release of responsibility model.
  • Explore the Scenario’s in the chapter and discuss.
  • Examine how the brain stores information.
  • Assignment: Explore articles and sites provided and create a memory situation plan.

Module 3: The Critical Verbs


  • Explore the verbs used in the Next Generation Learning Standards
  • Review Blooms Taxonomy and Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Levels
  • Use the information provided to determine how important the words are to your current teaching assignment

Module 4: The Critical Nouns


  • Learn the critical nouns and discuss them

Module 5: The Last Words


  • Identifying other words that are critical to vocabulary enhancement
  • Look at the four words: Classify/Categorize, Explicitly, Recognize and Recount. Examine where we typically find these words

Module 6: Vocabulary Standards


  • Learning Standards
  • Explore the terms “General Academic” and “Domain Specific”
  • Few or Flood Approach
  • Examine the components of interactive read-alouds

Module 7: Reflection and Article Reviews


  • Explore classroom strategies to make the words stick
  • View videos that show teaching vocabulary in action and evaluate
  • Review a professional article
  • Create a pocket reference card for students to memorize key vocabulary definitions. Be creative and use a “catch” such as the jingles
  • Share an idea for a Schoolwide Strategy

Module 8: Using the Web to Enhance Vocabulary


  • Explore and critique 5 interactive websites
  • Create a list of 5 - 10 websites with classroom applications
  • Create four vocabulary lesson plans that incorporate technology

Module 9: Templates for Graphic Organizers


  • Review Strategies for Critical Verbs and Critical Nouns
  • Use graphic organizers to become familiar with vocabulary
  • Create a guide for teachers/parents/administrators that explains the importance of teaching vocabulary
  • Create a pre-assessment across the grade levels

Module 10: Additional Resources/Final Project/Final Exam


  • Overview of resources and suggested websites
  • Final Reflections
  • Final Project
  • Evaluate research on vocabulary.
  • Assess how vocabulary is currently being used in your classroom.
  • Identify the ways memory works.
  • Describe and use critical verbs and critical nouns.
  • Analyze various strategies for teaching critical verbs and critical nouns.
  • Create lesson plans for using critical verbs, and strategies to enhance teaching critical nouns.
  • Develop a list of strategies to enhance the teaching of critical verbs.
  • Analyze websites used to enhance teaching of vocabulary.
  • Create a list of useful strategies for all words.
  • Discuss Vocabulary Standards.
  • Identify specific standards to your grade level.
  • Compare fundamental strategies to implement these words daily.
  • Design activities using new strategies.
  • Create a long term plan for embedding vocabulary in lesson plans.
Partner Universities

Our Partners are well-established regionally and nationally accredited colleges and universities, recognized for academic excellence and their commitment to teachers.

Important Information

Online 3-graduate credit courses are 13 weeks in length.

On-site weekend courses are held Friday evening from 6:00pm-9:00pm and Saturday/Sunday, 8:30am-5:30pm.

Weekday courses are Monday-Friday from 8:00am- 6:00pm.

It is the responsibility of the student to check with their state, county, district, or school to ensure that all requirements are being met by the course you're taking.  

Check the Partner Universities page for specific university information as well as course numbers which are specific to the university partner. 

Students are required to purchase their own textbook, the information for which can be found here. If no book is required it will be specified on the list. We have copies of many of the textbooks should you wish to purchase directly from TEI. 

Professional development (PD) participants receive a certificate of completion from TEI for 45 hours of PD credit for face to face classes and 60 hours of PD credit for online classes. These certificates are mailed within one week of the end of the class and reflect the course title, dates of attendance, and credit hour information. 

Student Academic Integrity
Participants guarantee that all academic class work is original. Any academic dishonesty or plagiarism (to take ideas, writings, etc. from another and offer them as one's own), is a violation of student academic behavior standards as outlined by our partnering colleges and universities and is subject to academic disciplinary action.