What is the research foundation for Word Intelligence?
The research foundation for Word Intelligence is wide and deep. The overall curricular design is based on the findings of the National Reading Panel as well as the curricular work of researchers such as Michael Graves, Isabel Beck, and Margaret McKeown. We are deeply indebted to Andrew Biemiller for the use of his painstakingly researched list of teachable words by grade level. Structures for active engagement and use of sentence frames draw on the work of Isabel Beck, Anita Archer, and Kate Kinsella. Within the program, we have built in multiple layers of distributed practice and review, based upon the research of Barak Rosenshine and Scott Baker, among others. Supports for English learners were devised under the guidance of Claude Goldenberg.In addition, every aspect of Word Intelligence was subjected to four years of teacher piloting and feedback. We ran small-scale experiments to determine the optimal number of words per week to teach and the most effective supports for English learners. Our Institute of Education Sciences (IES)–funded study proved conclusively that the Word Intelligence program can be successfully implemented and is highly effective at teaching vocabulary to adolescent learners.
Does this program relate to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?
Word Intelligence directly meets the content of the CCSS College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use Standards 4, 5, and 6.These three standards are as follows:

  • Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
  • Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
  • Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Word Intelligence also addresses Craft and Structure Standard 4:
Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning and tone.

In addition, Word Intelligence addresses several of the Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6–10:

  • Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
  • Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source.
  • Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies. (Grades 7–8)

Moreover, use of Word Intelligence provides students with extended exposure to and practice with reading informational materials, as all of the passages used in the program are nonfiction complex text.

Finally, Word Intelligence is designed to build the academic vocabulary found in complex texts across the curriculum.

Which students will most benefit from the program?
Word Intelligence is designed for students who have weak vocabularies. Generally, assessments will show these students reading at least one to two years below grade level. However, students who have significant problems with decoding grade-level text should not use this program without an intensive decoding intervention as well.
What grade levels does the curriculum address?
The curriculum is not grade specific. It is designed to address vocabulary deficits in students in grades 6–9. Words in both editions are those that students in grades 6–10 should know.
Which is taught first, the World Edition or the U.S. Edition?
The editions are not sequential and can be taught in either order. Teachers should choose the edition that they teach at a specific grade level by thinking about which historical content they want to strengthen.
Where can I fit in teaching Word Intelligence in my day?
The best option is to teach Word Intelligence as an added focused instructional period. Such a class might occur before or after regular school hours, or as an elective during the regular school day. Alternatively, Word Intelligence can be used along with other interventions focusing on writing, spelling, comprehension, and/or fluency, using the alternative extended pacing plan.
Does this program take the place of a history class?
No. This program is designed to be taught in addition to any usual history or social studies class. It does not meet all grade-level standards for history/social studies. The editions may be used interchangeably and do not replace a grade-level history curriculum, but they can provide added support.
How does this program address speakers of other languages?
English learners of all backgrounds benefit from the design of Word Intelligence, which provides explicit instruction of specific words, multiple exposures in multiple contexts, ample opportunities for oral practice, and frequent use of sentence frames to guide students in appropriate syntax and usage. In addition, Spanish speakers are provided with Primary Language Support lessons containing Spanish translations of every target word, definition, and context sentence. Teachers work with students to analyze the Spanish and English forms of each word and determine whether they are cognates.
What types of assessments are included in the curriculum?
HomeStudy provides daily informal assessment of student learning. End-of-unit tests occur approximately every two weeks. In addition, comprehensive post-tests at the end of each review unit assess student learning over time of three units’ words—at least 120 words.
Is there writing in the program?
Although Word Intelligence is not designed to focus on writing skills, there are many written activities throughout the program. During class time, students are often writing sentences using target vocabulary words. Sentence frames and stems are frequently provided to guide students in appropriate usage. HomeStudy provides writing practice at the sentence and paragraph level. Finally, project-based learning in three review units provides a wide variety of more complex and extended writing activities.
Is there reading in the program?
Yes. All vocabulary words are presented within the context of an informational text passage. Each unit includes four historical text passages from U.S. or world history. Each passage is under 400 words in length and contains 10–15 target vocabulary words. Because each passage is at a relatively high level of difficulty, instruction begins with a teacher read-aloud, followed by partner and text interactions.
How much does the program cost?
A classroom set including teacher materials and Student Notebooks for 18 students costs $695.
How can I purchase refills for the program?
Packages of Student Notebooks are sold in sets of six. All materials can be ordered directly from CORE at the CORE Learn website.
What type of training is available?
CORE offers a series of webinars to fully train teachers on the curriculum. CORE also offers a one-day professional development module that can be delivered on-site. Regional one-day trainings may also be available in some areas.
How many lessons are in each edition?
There are about 100 lessons in each edition.
How long is a lesson?
Each lesson is designed to be completed in a single class period of 45–55 minutes. However, lessons can be divided up into two or three smaller segments. An alternative pacing plan has been developed with guidelines for teaching the program in shorter segments.
Is an alternate pacing plan available?
Yes, an alternative extended pacing plan is available for teachers who want to teach Word Intelligence along with other curricular materials.
How many words do students learn in a week? In each edition?
In the first third of the program, Units 2–4, students learn 20 words per week. In the second third, Units 6–8, students learn 25 words per week. In the final third, Units 10–12, students learn 30 words per week. Units 5, 9, and 13 are review units in which no new words are taught. Overall, 450 specific words are taught in each edition. However, because students are often exposed to many words in a word family (e.g., not just imperishable but also perish and perishable), they can actually learn more than 450 words in a single course.
Where did you get the words?
Each of the words is found in a content-area passage relating to either U.S. or world history. Within those passages, words are chosen that fit into one of three categories: 60% of the words are drawn from Andrew Biemiller’s list of teachable vocabulary in the middle grades, 20% of the words are selected as key academic words in the social studies/history content area, and 20% of the words have highly specialized meanings but are necessary for understanding the passages.
What if my students know some of the words in a lesson?
It is expected that some words will be familiar to students. Because vocabulary knowledge is developmental in nature, many words are somewhat familiar to students but they do not yet comfortably use them in their writing or speech. Thus it is expected that students will move beyond mere familiarity with some words and use those words productively as well.We do assess students’ prior knowledge during the Word IntelligencePower Chart activity. Research has shown that students are very accurate with self-assessing vocabulary knowledge. It is crucial for the teacher to circulate and actually look at the students’ responses on the Power Chart.If students give a high self-rating:

  • Check in with students and test out whether they really know the words as well as they believe they do. Some do overestimate.
  • If students know some of the target words, that is fine and even preferable. It makes them feel good about the word knowledge that they do have, and the program is not designed to have 20 brand-new words per week! It is fine if one student knows five words, another knows six, etc. They will all know different words.
  • If students know all or almost all of the words at a level 3 or 4 (out of 4), then that means Word Intelligence is not an appropriate placement.
Is there a cumulative word list?
Each volume contains a glossary with all the words taught in that volume.
Does the program include words from the Biemiller list or the Coxhead Academic Word List?
Sixty percent of the words are drawn from Biemiller’s list of teachable vocabulary in the middle and high school grades. About 150 words from Coxhead’s Academic Word List are taught in the Word Intelligence program.
Is there a pronunciation key or guide for the curriculum?
Pronunciation of difficult proper nouns is clearly and phonetically explained.
How do I open the files on the Teacher Resources CD-ROMs?
The files on the Teacher Resources CD-ROMs are Adobe Acrobat PDFs. You can download a free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader here: Adobe Acrobat website.