Subject: English Language Arts
Activity 2: Vocabulary Study (Ongoing) (GLEs: 01a, 01b, 02, 03) [R]
Materials List: vocabulary self-awareness chart, vocabulary cards, Frayer model Vocabulary
Card BLM, Newspaper Terms BLM, word maps, etc., plus dictionaries, thesauruses, index cards
Following a teacher-facilitated review of basic dictionary skills, teacher should identify target
vocabulary for the lesson and provide students with a list of terms; students should also add
terms to the list as they read for the nonfiction, newspaper, and magazine-related vocabulary
terms they encounter throughout this unit, especially those related to current events. Students
will then use the vocabulary self-awareness (view literacy strategy descriptions) strategy
followed by the Frayer Model vocabulary card strategy (view literacy strategy descriptions),
which will create cards that illustrate the word’s definition, characteristics, examples, and
illustrations, thus helping to move the word into a student’s long-term memory.
Students will first determine their familiarity with each term. Students rate each word according
to their own understanding, including giving an example and a definition for each. If comfortable
with the word, students give themselves a “+”. If they think they know, but are unsure, they note
the word with a “?”. If the word is new to them, they place a “-” next to the word. Over the
course of the unit, students add new information to the chart, continually revisiting their charts to
revise entries and add new information. Thus, they have multiple opportunities to extend their
understanding of the terms. (Source: Fisher, Douglas, William G. Brozo, Nancy Frey, and Gay
Ivey. 50 Content Area Strategies for Adolescent Literacy. Upper Saddle River: Merrill/Prentice
Hall, 2007. 129-130.)
Example: Vocabulary Self-Awareness Chart
Word + ? Example Definition
column + vertical arrangement of
columns items printed on a page
byline ? Title a line at the beginning of
by John Doe byline a news story, magazine
article, or book giving
the writer's name
obituary SMITH a notice of a person's
ALLCITY -- John A. Smith died July 2, 1997, death usually with a short
after a short illness. Born August 4, 1936, in biographical account
Taunton, MA, he grew up and lived most of his
working life in Sherborn, MA, moving to
Allcity in August, 1995. Surviving are his son,
John Smith, Jr. and wife, Nancy, of Allcity;
and two grandchildren, Joseph Smith, and
Tracey Smith Kelty, all of Sherborn. Memorial
services will be held at 11:00 am, Friday, July
10th at Allcity Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Throughout the unit, students will create vocabulary cards that illustrate the nonfiction,
newspaper, and magazine-related vocabulary terms they encounter throughout this unit,
including illustrations or examples for each meaning. Students will also use this strategy for any
multiple meaning words encountered throughout the unit. Students will use these to see
connections between words, examples of the word, and the critical attributes associated with
each word. The strategy helps students understand word meanings and key concepts by relating
what they do not know to familiar concepts. Vocabulary cards also require students to pay
attention to words over time, thus improving their memory of them; vocabulary cards also
become an easy reference for students as they prepare for tests, quizzes, etc.
Teacher will model the use of a vocabulary card with a typical multiple meaning word, such as
pitch (v., to throw something; to erect something, to toss aside or discard, to present or advertise,
etc.). Teacher will write the targeted word in the center of the card.
Students will then use a 4”x6” or 5”x7” index card to imitate their teacher and create sample
vocabulary cards for their own nonfiction, newspaper, magazine, or multiple meaning words
from a list chosen by the teacher.
Sample Vocabulary Card for a Multiple Meaning Word
to throw something
to erect something
to toss aside or discard
to present or advertise
level or degree
I can pitch a baseball pretty well.
Dad pitched our tent on the campout.
I pitched the old newspapers into the recycling bin.
Bob will pitch his product at today’s meeting.
John worked at a feverish pitch to meet the deadline.
Students will also use structural analysis to generate a list of roots and show other words that are
derived from them. Students will identify the meanings of common abbreviations, symbols,
acronyms, and multiple-meaning words as they occur throughout the unit. The teacher will
review the four most common types of clues (e.g., definition, restatement, example, contrast) for
figuring out the meaning of an unknown word in context; students will apply the use of this
comprehension strategy throughout the unit as appropriate. Other words in the sentence and the
picture can provide clues to meaning.