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Larry Bell's 12 Power Words-poster, cards


Senior Member
Someone posted that they had attended a presentation by speaker, Larry Bell, where he explained his '12 Power Words' which will help students be more successful on their tests if they know the meanings of the 'Power Words'.

I looked them up on the internet and made them into a larger size for posting and a smaller size for each student. The versions I made are in different fonts and colors but, since we don't all have the same fonts on our computers, I am posting versions that are in the same font (times) and in black and white.

I figure if it's something I can use, others might also be able to use them, too! ;)

The words are: Analyze, Evaluate, Describe, Infer, Support, Explain, Summarize, Compare, Contrast, Predict, Trace, and Formulate

(1) Larry Bell's 12 Power Words chart-(3 pages to cut and paste together to make a chart.)
(2) Larry Bell's 12 Power Words-1 page (smaller size of the chart)
(3) Larry Bell's 12 Power Words-definitions-1 page (may also be used for a matching game when cut apart)
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  • 12 Testing Power Words-Lrg BW.doc
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  • 12 Testing Power Words 1Pg.doc
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  • 12 Testing Power Words-def-1pg.doc
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Senior Member

It's always nice to know that the work is helpful to someone! I appreciate the feedback!

Thanks for the compliments, too! I enjoy posting here to share sites or information I find as well as work I create because I've gotten so many fantastic ideas from so many others who post here, too! The generous give and take that others have demonstrated makes me want to do the same! :)

Everyone sharing with each other is what makes this site the great place that it is!

(;)P.S. I edited my post to include the 12 Power Words in case it's easier for teachers to look over the words before deciding to download the pages.)


Senior Member

I appreciate your time and willingness to share. I will definitely pass these on to my co-workers as we are always being reminded about improving test scores. Thanks again!


Full Member
This is awesome!

Thanks Risa ... and I agree, "Everyone sharing with each other is what makes this site the great place that it is!" :D


Senior Member
Twelve power words help

Our district has made these posters for every classroom and that's a lot of rooms. We have to have them up, so I put them up. However they never really told us what to do with them. I have never heard of LArry Bell before your post yet I have them on my wall. What do you do with these words? It should be self explanatory but I'm just not seeing it. I feel kind of silly, but I do want the knowledge.


Senior Member
Judy24-Here's how I see it... kinda long

Our district has made these posters for every classroom and that's a lot of rooms. We have to have them up, so I put them up. However they never really told us what to do with them. I have never heard of LArry Bell before your post

I'm surprised a whole school would go to such expense and not give you any instruction about how to use them.

At any rate, I work in a poor community where my fourth grade students are completely surrounded by the Spanish language, both in the home with parents and grandparents, as well as in the community. We have minimal support with English vocabulary development outside of school. When we teach vocabulary, we have to work at it from the "assume nothing" angle. We have to be very explicit in what we say and how we teach so that our English idioms or other assumptions don't interfere with understanding. There are too many times when I mistakenly assume they know what a given word is, and two minutes later, the braver students will ask what it means. (When our superintendent came in for career day, she kept referring to getting a good education and mentioned the opportunities to get scholarships for a higher education. She kept using the word 'education' over and over again. Well, after she left, I was asked, "What's an education?"... :eek:)

After reading the information posted below and thinking it over, my understanding is that we often assume that our students all understand what is meant by each of these words when they see them on their tests. If we specifically teach, use and review these particular words over and over again, there is a greater chance that students will know what they are being asked to do, and therefore, know how to correctly answer.

I hadn't heard of Larry Bell or of his words until someone posted about him on this site. I searched online for more information and decided it was worth the effort to teach these specific words to insure that my students would have a better understanding of them.

Others who posted to the threads below can give you more specifics from their perspectives. :s)

Here's where I learned about Larry Bell's Power Words:

Pro Teacher Thread started by TOTY04
ProTeacher Thread started by Miccol71
12 words that trip up "at-risk" students on standardized tests, even when they know the answers to the questions.
"Larry Bell advised the Bloomington staff that we can help our "at promise" students' academic success by assisting them in learning critical assessment vocabulary. He gave us the following "power words" as a place to start on vocabulary building.

Teachers are encouraged to carefully consider the student questioning and assessment terms that are in use in their assignments. These are prime words for vocabulary building activities that will help our students succeed. These words change by grade level and by secondary subject areas."

Michael Miller, principal at Saturn Elementary School in Cocoa, Florida, says Larry Bell is one of the best speakers he's heard in recent years. "Larry Bell has taught in inner-city schools, and he knows how to motivate hard-to-motivate students," said Miller. "I went to his session hoping to find some ideas to improve the achievement level of our minority students."

Miller and his staff have implemented many of Bell's strategies, including his Power Words strategy. "The Power Words are 12 words that -- if students know how to use them -- can raise performance on standardized tests," explained Miller. "We have posted the Power Words on all our doors, in the cafeteria line, in our commons area… When students know all the words they get a bright pink button with a picture of a brain on it that says they know their power words. One of our teachers even put the words to motions and then went around the school teaching those motions to all the classes. Our music teacher put the words to music."


Senior Member
Thank you for the help

It makes sense to teach the words being used to test them. I'll give it a try and pass this on to my friends at school.


Senior Member
Thanks, Risa!

My school district is bringing Larry Bell in late in January, but we've had the posters up in classrooms for our after school program since September or October. We have a mix of affluent, poor, and migrant students and how successfully we differentiate instruction makes a huge difference. I'm hoping to get a lot of his visit. I'll be directing a lot my fellow teachers to your information!!!:s)


Senior Member
Lucky you!!

Julie, I sure hope you will be able to report back to this site what you learn!! I'm curious about the 'UNRAAVEL' (or something like that) method and others that were mentioned in the various links. Maybe you'll get some ideas about the movements and tunes that some created for the Power Words, too!
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New Member
12 powerful words

This is great-our school is undergoing "restructuring" thanks to AYP and this is one of our strategies-thank you for the help-Sally


Senior Member
We had an inservice a couple of years ago with Larry Bell. He's a very good speaker, very good. The words do come in handy, these words are everywhere in our testing/curriculum, etc. The UNRAAVEL is really a good tool to use in the classroom. But, I must say, many of you probably already use the basic idea UNRAAVEL, and just don't know it.
I of course, cannot remember each step, I have always had to keep my sign out to remind me of each one, and I have to pull it out this year again, thanks for the reminder. Here are the few I remember.

Underline the title and predict what the passage is about.

Number each paragraph

Read the questions

A? I cannot remember for the life of me, but reading the text at this stage

V? maybe verify( the students go through the questions/answers part and number those with the numbers of paragraphs they previously marked so they can show they know where they found the answers

Eliminate any choices (from the questions, cross off obvious choices)

Let the questions answered.


New Member
12 Powerful Words

I just want to say thank you. I printed off the list and the ones I can make flash cards with. I just recently saw Larrry Bell at our personal seminar for our schools in the Southaven, MS. I teach Science for the Mississippi Occupational Diploma Track Program at Southaven H.S. I am using these words to help increase their knowlege about what they are being asked on tests. I ask the student to give me a word that goes with the definition I call out, so that they may go to their locker or to the bathroom ETC.. It really works, they want the challenge.


Senior Member
Thanks Risa

Our district had Larry bell come out last year and he was great. We have the posters and are teaching the 12 powerful words. Thanks for the attachments! I'll use these!


Senior Member
Back when Risa posted about power words, I made these for my classroom. I hope they can be used.
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  • New Power Words.pdf
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New Member
12 Power Words

I first heard Larry Bell when I attended a conference in Missouri. He is a dynamic speaker. Regarding the 12 power words. Does anyone have the 12 power words in Spanish?
Also I had never heard the acronym RAAVEL. What does each word stand for? Someone else posted some but not all. Thanks for any replies sent myway.


Senior Member
Thanks for sharing!

We start testing in another week; I will pass these on to the rest of my staff.

Nice work to both posters!