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Standard 4: Vocabulary

Students will expand their working vocabularies to effectively communicate and understand texts.

WRITING: Students will apply knowledge of vocabularies to communicate by using descriptive, academic, and domain-appropriate abstract and concrete words in their writing.

5.4.W.1 Students will use domain-appropriate vocabulary to communicate ideas in writing clearly.

Student Actions

Teacher Actions 

  • Students use content-specific vocabulary to  communicate ideas clearly in writing.
  • Students experience multiple opportunities to read, write and talk about new words.
  • Students create and maintain personal words walls, notebooks, lists, or collections of content specific vocabulary.
  • Students apply knowledge of domain specific (content area) vocabulary used across curriculum standards. 
  • Students identify content specific words in non-fiction text, and demonstrate knowledge by using words correctly in written response to the text. 


  • Teachers explain that well chosen words are important to effectively communicate in writing.
  • Teachers provide exposure to domain specific (content area) vocabulary
  • Teachers demonstrate using resources (word wall, vocabulary notebook, etc.) to select content-specific vocabulary to use in writing.
  • Teachers provide opportunities for students to create visual representations of content specific vocabulary (illustrations, graphic organizers, personal word walls, notebooks, lists, word collections, projects, art).
  • Teachers model writing fully developed sentences using content-specific vocabulary.
    • Teachers can model:
      • explicitly by using a document camera and paper/pencil show revision in progress by talking through thought process out loud.
      • modeling more precise or specific  ways of writing through the revising stage “came into the room,” ie. “tore into the room,” sauntered into the room”
  • Teachers provide opportunities  for students to practice writing and enhancing their writing with content-specific vocabulary.
  • Teachers provide adequate time to revise writing with emphasis on word choice, and model this skill during writing lessons.
  • Teachers monitor and provide opportunities for students to receive feedback regarding the clear use of content-specific vocabulary in writing.

Supporting Resources

Teacher Insights 

Marzano on Building Academic Vocabulary

Engineering the Perfect Poem Using STEM Vocabulary (website)

Developing Academic Vocabulary Strategy Guide (website)

Vocabulary Solutions: A Mixture of Science, Conversation, and Writing (website)

Using a Word Journal to Create a Personal Dictionary (website)

Using Word Walls to Develop and Maintain Academic Vocabulary (website) 

  • Domain-specific vocabulary refers to “relatively low-frequency, content-specific words that appear in textbooks and other instructional materials; for example, apex in math, escarpment in geography, and isobar in science” (Blachowicz, C. & Fisher, P., p.1).  

  • The intent of this standard is that students use new academic vocabulary, content-specific vocabulary, and grade-level vocabulary in complete sentences. When responding to non-fiction text, students will use content specific vocabulary (from the text) correctly in their written responses. 

Due to recursive nature of the standards, it is essential that teachers are aware of how all objectives within and between strands work together for optimal instruction.

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