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A Vocabulary Lesson Plan for Normal People

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/17/2012

Having your students copy the definition of a word out of the dictionary, study it, and take a quiz on it doesn't work now and didn't work when I was in school. Try this interactive lesson plan instead.

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    Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary

    There are better ways of teaching vocabulary than recreating the same vocabulary lesson plan used by our predecessors. Creative vocabulary teaching increases student achievement and provides quality instruction for different learning styles. The following ideas can be incorporated into any subject.

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    It doesn't take a wordsmith to properly prepare for this vocabulary lesson plan.

    1. List vocabulary words on the board.

    2. Instruct students to copy down the words, leaving at least 5 spaces in between. For some reason, the five spaces in between motivates them. It's as if they're thinking, "Finally something different than the same old crap Mr. Boringteach has been doing all year."

    3. Pronounce each word and have students repeat each word. There's no use in learning a word's definition and sounding like an idiot trying to pronounce it. My mother had a suitor when I was in high school who mispronounced words all the time. He was one of the nicest men I've ever met. His mispronunciations, however, were the subject of many a sardonic slight.

    4. Look up each word as a class and write the definition on the board, or instruct students to copy definitions from the board or a dictionary.

    5. Explain the meaning of each word, providing relevant examples. Your students will think you're cool for actually teaching them the words. OK, maybe cool is too strong a word.

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    For each word, students will provide the following:

    • definition
    • part of speech
    • example
    • synonym
    • antonym
    • picture or symbol
    • sentence

    Example: dog (n): a four-legged furry creature that enjoys licking itself and barking

    • examples: my dog fluffy, poodle, Scooby Doo
    • synonyms: mutt, canine, pooch
    • antonym: cat
    • picture: draw a dog
    • sentence: Mark Twain's dog lost two of its four legs in a circular saw incident in Santo Domingo.

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    Grading these would produce a gigantic headache. Here are some alternatives:

    • spot check two or three words
    • grade only the sentences or some other category
    • participate in a vocabulary picture or sentence challenge
    • don't grade them, but allow them to be used on a quiz