Monday, February 18, 2013

Teaching Strategy (and FREEBIE) Focus: Vocabulary

Today, I want to share a couple of strategies (and a FREEBIE!) for teaching vocabulary in the classroom. Since my first or second year teaching, I've used (with success) the same vocabulary strategies to introduce key terms at the start of a topic, and to review them later. Details below (with images).

In addition, click here to download the FREE resources described below.

Vocabulary Introduction: 
When introducing new and key terms, this strategy has proved successful for my students, as it provides them not only a list of defined terms, but requires them to analyze definitions as they write them.
Given a vocabulary worksheet, definition list, and textbook, students must choose and record the correct definition from the definition list and record it on the vocabulary worksheet. To help them select the correct definitions, a textbook is also provided. By asking students to choose a definition similar in meaning to that in their text (rather than simply copy a definition from the text), students are required to analyze and compare definitions, improving the probability of learning.
While students still require practice and regular use of terms to solidify learning, this slight change in the process of defining key terms makes a world of difference. 

Vocabulary Review:

This is one of the best vocabulary review games I've used:
     1. The focus of the game is student to student discourse.
     2. It's transferable - It can be used for any topic with any vocabulary words.
     3. Kids LOVE it.

Student groups of four (two students per team - a reader and a guesser) are given a timer and a set of index cards with one key term on each card. For a 60 or 90 second round (student choice), the reader begins by describing the term on the first card while the guesser attempts to say guess it. If the guesser successfully guesses the term, a point is scored, and the reader moves to the next card. If the reader decides to skip/pass on a card, the point goes to the other team.
While this is going on, the other team is looking over the reader's shoulder, making sure that he/she doesn't say the word on the card. If the reader does, the point belongs to the other team, and the reader moves to the next card.

At the end of the round, ALL cards get reshuffled and handed to the other teams, and roles reverse.
At best, students are discussing with each other the key terms and what they mean. At worst, students are listening to others describe words. Either way, it's a big time learning opportunity.

How do you teach vocabulary in the classroom? I'd love to hear any tips/strategies in the comments below!


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  1. Oh my gosh, I just found your blog and I am in love! I think your similar definition idea is great for scaffolding student learning - they have enough information to figure it out on their own with a high likelihood of success without being too easy.

    I'm your newest follower!

    Mrs. Harris
    Mrs. Harris Teaches Science!

  2. Hi! I'm a middle school Science teacher and I just started the whole teacher blog thing. I figured it's a great way to stay organized and also to stay in the loop with new teaching methods used by "colleagues" all over the country. I found your blog through bloglovin' and I'm glad I did. I hope you can take a look at my blog and find it as helpful and interesting as I find yours. :) Thanks!
    -D. Cortez

  3. The other team is looking over the reader's shoulder, making sure that he/she doesn't say the word on the online strategy games.
    real time strategy game.

  4. Hello Teacher Blogger!
    I wanted to thank you for your participation in the Middle School Blog Log on the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.
    Some changes are coming to the blog log. We have a new and more colourful button that I feel will attract more traffic to the site and our blogs. Please update our button on your teacher blog with the new code located at Middle School Blog Log
    We have also started a Closed Facebook group to stay connected to one another for marketing and social purposes. Please join us at the group called Middle School Bloggers in the Facebook groups area.
    Thanks for all you do. I read your blogs via bloglovin and so jealous of all your creativity.
    Kristy @ 2peasandadog {at}

  5. This page is very informative and fun to read. I appreciated what you have done here. I enjoyed every little bit part of it.
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  6. Grammar and vocabulary are two decisive factors to determine someone's proficiency in English. Grammar is focused during the school days using several tools but vocabulary is ignored, which becomes an obstacle for learners to acquire the language. To learn words from different categories, themes and to learn through personalized sessions, be connected with Be connected.

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  8. Hi,

    I happened to chance upon your blog and found it very interesting!

    We have recently launched a science app that uses augmented reality to enhance classroom teaching. The app has 3D models for kindergarten to grade 12. I thought you might want to check it out and may be review it on your blog, if possible.

    It is a paid app(with a few models free) but in case you are interested in trying it out I will be happy to provide you with a free copy.

    The link to the app is:



    You can also search for the app on the app store as 'Augmenter'.

    Do let me know if you would be interested. I am really Looking forward to your response.

    happy teaching!


    1. I loved reading your post and can so understand where you're coming from. Having recently returned to middle school after teaching for years at the elementary level, I reflected on vocabulary in the Middle school Science classroom. Recently, like you, I wrote a blog post quite similar to yours in that we both understand the importance of teaching vocabulary in an engaging manner. In my bog post The Evolution of a Science Word Wall I wrote about some strategies I've implemented.


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