Academic Language Program

A new pilot program has launched this week to promote mastery of specific words to help our kids excel. Research shows that increased understanding of some key academic words will build student success in school, on tests, and in life.  

The program, Academic Language, is a combined effort with Crittenden to identify words that are basic to learning across all content areas in all grades.   Prior to Winter Break, Graham students were given an assessment on key vocabulary that gives us a baseline to understand which words need additional instruction.  Each week, we will focus on three words-- teachers will use them in instruction across all content areas.  During lunch break, Principal Thompson and Vice-Principal Lundberg will engage students in conversation or games with the words of the week.  There will be awesome acts and other prizes and incentives for students.   There will be an assessment near the end of school and the data will be compared to the initial assessment. A full program will be designed and launched at the beginning of the next school year.

Your help with your own children will go a long way to support this effort!  Each week the words will be published on the Graham Website,  GrahamChat and BearTracks.  Please engage your students in these words of the week. Over dinner or in the car, ask your student to use the word in conversation, find it used in a current news story, or ask them to teach it to you.   Any way to reinforce it outside of school is great.  Please share what worked and didn’t on GrahamChat so we can all learn and improve.

Thank you to all the parents who attended the joint meeting (PTA, SSC, GPA and ELAC) and worked together to define student incentives and ways for parents to get involved.  With the pilot, we are employing some of your suggestions and will build as the pilot progresses.  

More ways to engage students will be forthcoming as will challenge words which are specific to content area and grade.


Week of April 25 to April 29
summarize (v) to restate in a shorter form. Other form: Summarize
(n) a statement that shows a writer’s opinion or position on an issue
consequence (n) something that happens because of an action. Other form: consequently, consequential

Week of April 18 to April 22
cite (v) 1. to quote a passage, book, author, etc. 2. to mention as evidence to support a claim. Other form: Citation
process (n) a series of steps or actions toward a goal
crucial (adj) very important; necessary

Week of April 4 to April 8
associate (v) to connect with something else in one’s mind. Other form: Association
concept (n) an idea
outcome (n) a result

Week of March 28 to April 1
alternative (n) something chosen instead of something else. Other form: Alternatively
contradict (v) to say the opposite of what someone else has said. Other form: Contradiction
justify (v) to prove that a claim is correct; to defend. Other form: Justification

Week of March 21 to March 25
consist (v) to include; to be made up or formed of
verify (v) to prove that something is true. Other form: verification
valid (adj) true; reasonable

Week of March 14 to March 18
imply (v) to suggest something without stating it directly. Other form: implication
objective (n) a goal; (adj) based only on facts; not influenced by personal feelings
evaluate (v) to judge the value or quality of something. Other form: evaluation

Week of March 7 to March 11
discuss (v) to talk or write about; to consider in detail. Other form: discussion
factor (n) something that causes or influences something else.
apply (v) 1. to use for a purpose; 2. to be related to. Other form: application

Week of February 29 to March 4
context (n) the situation or circumstances surrounding a word, an event, etc.
emphasize (v) to give special importance to something; to stress. Other form: emphasis
interpret (v) to determine the meaning of something. Other form: interpretation

Some tips for parents to help students learn the words at home

  • Play Hangman with our academic language words
  • Try making word and definition cards, play concentration and match the words with their definitions.
  • Play word association games and try to guess our academic language words
  • Try playing charades and act out our academic language words
  • Try setting up quizlet on the computer and challenge yourself to improve your academic language score
  • Challenge your parents to a word hunt game during the week and see how many different places you find/hear our academic words (TV, magazine, newspaper, radio, etc.)
  • Play a sentence/paragraph building game and come up with the most dynamic sentence/paragraph
  • Identify the academic language words that have multiple meanings or find synonyms to help understand our words
  • Try challenging the family to a friendly online academic language quiz on Kahoot.
Mountain View Whisman School District

Graham Middle School
1175 Castro Street
Mountain View, CA 94040
(650) 526-3570