Methods that encourage students to actively construct meanings (as opposed to merely copying definitions from a dictionary) help students learn and retain word meanings longer.
(Beers, p.37)


Effective Vocabulary Instructions Instructions that allow students to learn the words, use the words and remember the words

Suggestion #1: Assign Word Study, Not Word Memorization
  • Try assigning 5-8 words per week and use the chart below to learn them, use them and then have students apply them

Learn list 1

Learn list 2
List 1

Learn list 3
List 1 & 2
List 1
Learn list 4
List 1,2 & 3
List 2
Learn list 5
List 1, 2, 3 & 4
List 3
The following suggestions are from When Kids Can't Read by Kylene Beers. Details of these strategies can be found in Chapter 9.
Suggestion #2: Teach Students How to Use the Context as a Clue
  • Teach students to see relationships among the words and make inferences about the passage. Point out the types of the clues authors make (definition/explanation clues, restatement/synonym clues, contrast/antonym clues and gist clues) to help dependent readers.
Suggestion #3: Teach Word Parts
  • Vertical plan with teachers in your school to determine which roots affixes will be systematically taught in which grades. Use graphic organizers such as vocabulary trees to help students learn roots.
Suggestion #4: Turn Vocabulary Study into a Word Hunt
  • Having fun is one of the motivators for learning. Take advantage of students' sense of discovery and play to by incorporating the use of word puzzles and games. Have students collect words on self made bookmarks or allow students to develop their own questions for words that have different meanings depending on the context.
Suggestion #5: Use Graphic Organizers
  • Use graphic organizers to build word knowledge. Graphic organizers help dependent readers organize information and see relationships that they otherwise may not see.
Suggestion #6: Use Logographic Cues
  • Let students create logographs as a tool for remembering words. Logographs act as a powerful scaffold to comprehension for some students. As students decide what symbol would best represent an idea in the text, they are encouraged to think critically about what they are reading.
Suggestion #7: Read Aloud and Use SSR
  • Read aloud with students, have students read aloud to each other, and incorporate sustained silent reading.
Suggestion #8: Ask the Right Question
  • Ask specific questions about their word knowledge and use their answers to inform your instruction. There are examples of suggestive questions on p.201 to assess specific word knowledge.

"If teachers want students to really make vocabulary gains, Kylene Beers discusses the teacher using the words for two weeks in advance of presenting the list. This is because our listening and speaking vocabulary comes before our reading and writing vocabulary. This may be a point that you want to think about as this is a strategy that goes beyond “here is the list”."
Anne Gamblin
Title I Specialist

ABC Bookmaking Builds Vocabulary in the Content Areas
Students are engaged and motivated to build content area vocabulary through the creation of ABC books. A small-group activity introduces a variety of ABC books, including books for older readers that use the letters of the alphabet as a starting point to present information about a featured subject. Students then decide on a style and structure for their own alphabet books and choose a word for each letter from content area textbooks, encyclopedias, reference books, or suggested websites. A storyboard is constructed including each of the 26 words, the context in which it will appear, and a quick sketch of the proposed illustration. Students' final ABC books are created using either the interactive Alphabet Organizer or PowerPoint.

Student Interactive Crossword Puzzle for Vocabulary
This online tool encourages students to study their content area vocabulary, practice grammar or parts of speech, or demonstrate what they have learned by creating crossword puzzles. In the Create mode, the tool offers the opportunity to enter words and their clues before it generates the puzzle.

The tool also includes a Play mode with crossword puzzles for students in grades K–12. Included with each puzzle are a For Teachers page with troubleshooting help and ideas for use as well as a Tips & Hints page designed to scaffold students' learning and help them do the research necessary to solve the puzzle.


Secondary Math Vocabulary and Word Walls

The vocabulary cards in this file match the Common Core, the math curriculum adopted by the Utah State Board of Education, August 2010.
  • The cards are arranged alphabetically.
  • Each card has three sections.
    • Section 1 is only the word. This is to be used as a visual aid in spelling and pronunciation. It is also used when students are writing their own “kid-friendly” definition and drawing their own graphic.
    • Section 2 has the word and a graphic. This graphic is available to be used as a model by the teacher.
    • Section 3 has the word, a graphic, and a definition. This is to be used for the Word Wall in the classroom. For more information on using a Word Wall for Daily Review – see “Vocabulary – Word Wall Ideas” on this website.
  • These cards are designed to help all students with math content vocabulary, including ELL, Gifted and Talented, Special Education, and Regular Education students.

Incorporating Art in Word Walls

CC Mathematics Vocabulary for All Grades

Michelle Fleming: Math Vocabulary for grades K-12
This list is very comprehensible when looking at math vocabulary for grades K-12.

Vocabulary Paint Chips
Grades 9-12, ELA, Synonyms: CCSS: ELA.L.11-12.4b

Extending Understanding: Developing Vocabulary
Grades 6-8, ELA, ELL: CCSS: ELA.RI.7.6 ELA.RI.8.6

Find lots of suggestions for teaching vocabulary: All grades

Kick Me: Making Vocabulary Interactive
This video is from a 7th grade ELA classroom but can be used in a variety of classes.
(Writing CCSS: ELA.L.7.5b)