San Diego County Office of Education

Transition Words - Middle and High School

WHAT

Scaffolding Academic Language: Transition Words

BIG IDEAS

Ideas communicated in sentences can be connected by transition words.
Compare and contrast terminology can be useful to describe similarities and differences.

ESSENTIAL QUESTION

How do I transition from one idea to the next in writing?
What are the words used to describe similarities and differences? 

CONTENT STANDARD

English Language Development Standards

(Early Intermediate)
Writes expository compositions (such as comparison/writing, problem/solution) that include the main idea and some details using simple sentences.

Grade 7 Writing Strategies
1.0 Students write clear, coherent, and focused essays. The writing exhibits students' awareness of the audience and purpose. Essays contain formal introductions, supporting evidence, and conclusions. Students progress through the stages of the writing process as needed.
Organization and Focus
1.1 Create an organizational structure that balances all aspects of the composition and uses effective transitions between sentences to unify important ideas.

Grade 8 Writing Strategies
(Standard 1.0 is the same as in Grade 7)
Organization and Focus
1.2 Establish coherence within and among paragraphs through effective transitions, parallel structures, and similar writing techniques.

Grade 9/10 Writing Strategies
1.0 Students write coherent and focused essays that convey a well-defined perspective and tightly reasoned argument. The writing demonstrates students' awareness of the audience and purpose. Students progress through the stages of the writing process as needed.
Organization and Focus
1.1 Establish a controlling impression or coherent thesis that conveys a clear and distinctive perspective on the subject and maintain a consistent tone and focus throughout the piece of writing.

SKILLS and STRATEGIES

Organizing thoughts and ideas, using transitions between sentences and paragraphs, making comparisons and contrasts

ASSESSMENT

Students write an essay that is evaluated according to the rubric criteria.

The lesson


Background

During the lesson design process, the first step is to evaluate the skills of the students relative to the new material. What do they already know about the new topic? What do they need to know? Analyze the skills needed to fulfill each of the criteria (or objectives) for learning the new knowledge or skills. Incorporate the learning of these skills in the overall lesson scope and sequence (scaffolding).  

1. For whom are the strategies appropriate and why? Intermediate level English proficiency, 2nd/3rd grade equivalency reading skills (special education, generational poverty, middle/high school students)

2. What is the purpose of this lesson? What does the current research tell us?  The purpose of this lesson is to teach abstract academic vocabulary. Teaching abstract academic vocabulary in a new academic context creates a double learning burden for the student: the new terms and the new context. An effective strategy is to isolate the critical factors (i.e., the target vocabulary). Try embedding the new terms in a familiar context so students can more easily grasp what they mean, use the new terms in the new academic context, and build two bridges to understanding.

3. What are the desired results? By giving students access to academic vocabulary and core content, we foster access to standards-based, rigorous curriculum for all students. This lesson has been successfully implemented by teachers in ELD, English, Special Education and Support/Success Skills classes. Students use the terms correctly in their essays and apply this knowledge to writing in other classes.

Other considerations:

  • Remember that differentiation strategies are not an “end” in themselves.
  • Design and place/implement strategies purposefully in a sequence of activities to facilitate growth of the skill/ knowledge base of the student.
  • Embed grammar/usage lesson sequence in a writing unit (i.e., compare / contrast).
  • Consider EL proficiency levels, as well as reading abilities (i.e., early intermediate to intermediate level of English Language proficiency, or Special Education with 2nd/3rd grade reading equivalency, or struggling students).
  • Provide explicit, step-by-step instruction, which includes academic vocabulary, organization of ideas and writing.
  • Utilize a variety of assessment modalities: formative (checks for understanding), and summative (final essay).
  • Integrate critical thinking and inquiry, writing to learn, and developing student voices.

Preparation
Distribute packet(s) ahead of lesson.
Materials: Copies of Stellaluna: Compare/Contrast writing sampler, pgs. 3, 4, 6, and 14-17

Distribute noun and verb cards randomly to participants.
Materials: Words on Card stock

Objectives
Students will learn and correctly identify transition words.
Students will learn and correctly apply abstract, compare/contrast terms.

Modeling Phase
Ask participants to demonstrate (via Total Physical Response or TPR) what the words mean: Pencil, Computer, Running, Thinking.
Encourage participants to act out the words. Acknowledge participation and correct interpretations of the “concrete words." Call on the student with the “transition word” and ask them to act out what it means. [Note: Participants will have some difficulty and the purpose is to use this challenge as a bridge to demonstrate learning the terms in another way.]
Materials:
“also” “however” cards

Instruction
Point out that abstract terms, such as transition words, must be explicitly taught within the context they will be used.

Modeling
Model 2 to 3 comparisons: Point to the word ‘compare’ on the T-chart. Use hand gestures, (i.e., right hand out, left hand out): 
“Susan is wearing glasses. John is also wearing glasses.”
“Gerry has blue shoes. David also has blue shoes.”
“Donna is walking to school. Nancy is also walking to school.”
Materials: 4 easel-paper size “T-charts” posted around the room. Title: Transition words. Left column: compare. Right column: contrast.

Model 2 to 3 contrasts:  Point to the word ‘contrast’ on the T-chart. Use hand gestures, right hand out, left hand out): 
“Linda is wearing sunglasses, however Sally is wearing reading glasses.”
“Howard is checking e-mail, however, Roger is doing research on the Internet.”
“Nancy is writing notes, however, Connie is reading a book.”

Point out that when we teach abstract academic vocabulary in the academic context they come from, we create a double learning burden for the student---the new terms and the new context. One effective strategy is to isolate the critical factors (i.e., the target vocabulary). Try embedding the new terms in a familiar context so students can more easily grasp what the new terms mean, use the new terms in the new academic context, and build two bridges to understanding. For the extended modeling and application of the new terms, refer to the Stellaluna Sampler packet and entire WRITE units.

Guided Practice/Check for Understanding
Direct participants with the transition words to place the words on the T-charts posted on the walls, in the categories of “compare” or “contrast.”  Ask them to explain why they have placed them in that category.
Materials: “However”, “also” words on card stock. Other words on card stock: as, both, but, comparable (to), contrary to, different, in contrast (to), like, likewise, on the other hand, same, similar (to), similarly, unlike, yet

Point out how this improves reading comprehension, word recognition, vocabulary acquisition, and application.
Next steps: Refer to Stellaluna Sampler packet. Guide students through the lessons on pages 12-17 (model, guided practice, independent practice).
Materials: Copies of packets

Lesson Resources
Transition Words (application/pdf)
Transition Words BIG (application/pdf)
Stellaluna Sampler Packet (application/pdf)

Strategies for differentiation

HOW

Content

Process

Product

Transition words that show comparison and contrast: Also, however, as, both, but, like, likewise, comparable to, different, in contrast to, on the other hand, same, similar to, similarity, unlike, yet Teacher models 2 to 3 vocabulary comparisons, then contrasts. Students write an essay showing comparison and contrast.

(Differentiation of content for this lesson is not described.)

Tiered Activities

TPR:  Ask participants to demonstrate what the words mean.

Try embedding the new terms in a familiar context so students can more easily grasp what the new terms mean, use the new terms in the new academic context, and build two bridges to understanding.

Students use the rubric criteria to guide them in composing their essay.

Students choose the subjects to compare and contrast.

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