CONTRIBUTOR : Georgia Scurletis

Georgia Scurletis is Director of Curriculum for the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com. Before coming to Thinkmap, she spent 18 years as a curriculum writer and classroom teacher. Georgia has written curriculum materials for a variety of Web sites (WGBH, The New York Times Learning Network, Edsitement) and various school districts. While teaching high school English in Brooklyn, she was a recipient of the New York State English Council's Educators of Excellence Award, the Brooklyn High Schools' Recognition Award, and The New York Times' Teachers Who Make a Difference Award.
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Ever since College Board President David Coleman announced that the redesigned SAT would replace its testing of more obscure words such as mendacious or treacly with the analysis of more frequent, multiple-meaning words in context, educators have been fretting about what this may mean for the study of vocabulary and for the precision of the next generation of American students' English in general. Continue reading...
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Jim Burke's The English Teacher's Companion includes a list of 358 academic vocabulary words culled from a survey of textbooks, assignments, standards, and examinations. Although the term academic vocabulary means different things to different educators, I like to think of Burke's use of the term as representing the vocabulary of directions. Continue reading...
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One of the most persistent myths about word acquisition is that students don't need to be taught words; they just need to read more and their vocabularies will magically expand. This theory — which I like to call "learning words by osmosis" — doesn't hold much promise for your average or struggling reader. While it may hold true for a select group of students who are strong, avid readers possessing a curiosity about words, most students don't learn words by simply encountering them in reading. Continue reading...
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When you hear the words academic vocabulary, you might think of words that live only in academic journals — awkward words such as insomuch, heretofore, or conversely. These words would never roll off your tongue and you would never expect to encounter them on prime time television or on the magazine rack as you wait in line at the supermarket. Continue reading...
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When Snoopy takes out his typewriter and begins to compose a novel atop his doghouse, he always begins with "It was a dark and stormy night..." This phrase — originally appearing in a schmaltzy 19th century British novel — has come to symbolize all that can go wrong with melodramatic writing, especially the clumsy attempts of a writer trying to evoke a dramatic setting within the first sentence of a work of literature. Continue reading...
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Despite its popularity among teens, you're not going to find class sets of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series in the English department book rooms across the country. Even if most teachers don't incorporate trendy literature into their class syllabus, it doesn't mean that they can't take advantage of the excitement of the fad and harness it to teach some valuable lessons about writing, editing, and word choice. Continue reading...
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The bad news: SAT reading scores have reached an all-time low, and recently released NAEP scores reveal that American students' vocabulary growth is "flat." The good news: It's no longer 2012. It's 2013, a new year, a time to buy gym memberships and to overhaul your vocabulary instruction. Just do it. Continue reading...
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