Word Generation is a cross-content literacy program designed to teach academic language and argumentation in ELA, social studies, science, and math. The program uses compelling topics to engage adolescents in meaningful academic language development work. This is a popular program among teachers, and it has demonstrated significant and positive results in studies.
Considering the amount of pressure to cover content, it is not surprising that many teachers would raise an eyebrow at the tainted notion that "every teacher is a teacher of reading". However, poor literacy skills are a real hindrance for learning and using content in subjects such as science, math, and social studies. The creators of WordGen have searched for ways teachers can improve students' reading comprehension without having to halt curriculum instruction. With WordGen, you can merge content and literacy instruction by utilizing general and content-specific vocabulary to help students articulate their thinking and develop their argumentation skills.
We made flashcards out of the WordGen vocabulary!
You can find the flashcards at tinycards.com and Tiny Cards isalso available as a mobile app.
Word Generation is so much more than a language program. It is designed to teach vocabulary, argumentation, and reading comprehension through ELA, social studies, science, and math. Schools are encouraged to try out the program as a school-wide initiative. However, it is also possible for a team of teachers to collaborate to implement or to go at it alone. Material is freely available at serpinstitute.org.
Types of WordGen programs:
Each WordGen Weekly contains a high-interest passage about a controversial topic. Through the text, the students are introduced to selected academic vocabulary words. The text and the vocabulary list are the basis for discussion and weekly writing.
Unit 1.05: Does rap music have a negative impact on youth?
considerable • contribute • demonstrate • sufficient • valid
Unit 2.07: Should the government fund embryonic stem cell research?
embryo • paralyzed • theory • investigate • obtain
Unit 3.19: When is it okay to lie?
conceive • unethical • benefit • detect • rationalize
Several research studies have demonstrated that WordGen yields positive and significant results. Our very own Joshua Lawrence has published results from a large randomized trial of the Word Generation program with Dr. Catherine Snow and others (2016, 2015).
Word Generation is developed by teams of researchers and practitioners. Catherine Snow (Harvard University) led the development of WordGen through a SERP collaboration with the Boston Public Schools and other districts in Massachusetts and Maryland.
Some reasons why it works:
Alex R. Lin, Joshua F. Lawrence, Catherine E. Snow and Karen S. Taylor (2016) Assessing Adolescents’ Communicative Self-Efficacy to Discuss Controversial Issues: Findings From a Randomized Study of the Word Generation Program, Theory and Research in Social Education, 44:3, 316-343, DOI: 10.1080/00933104.2016.1203852
Lawrence, J. F., Crosson, A. C., Paré-Blagoev, E. J., and Snow, C. E. (2015). Word Generation Randomized Trial: Discussion Mediates the Impact of Program Treatment on Academic Word Learning. American Educational Research Journal, 52(4), 750–786. https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831215579485
Joshua F. Lawrence, Rebecca Givens Rolland, Lee Branum-Martin and Catherine E. Snow (2014) Generating Vocabulary Knowledge for At-Risk Middle School Readers: Contrasting Program Effects and Growth Trajectories, Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR), 19:2, 76-97, DOI: 10.1080/10824669.2014.958836