Arkansas State Personnel Development Grant

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Lesson One


Essential Element: Vocabulary


Framework(s): Continue to develop and maintain an adequate body of sight words

  • R.11.5.2

  • R.11.6.2

  • R.11.7.2

  • R.11.8.2


Add content words to sight vocabulary

  • R.11.5.3

  • R.11.6.3

  • R.11.7.3

  • R.11.8.3




The relationship between word knowledge and reading comprehension is well established and has been clearly stated for years. As early as the 1940s, research has noted that the connection between word knowledge and comprehension is undisputed, yet typical classroom practices in helping students develop vocabulary skills have not always met with success. Often teachers have relied on a programmed vocabulary book or weekly list of words with the accompanying admonition to “look it up in the dictionary”.


More effective instruction, however, includes integration, repetition, and meaningful use. Moreover, this kind of explicit instruction involves planning, flexibility, and variety so that students find the work not only challenging but interesting and perhaps fun as well. In addition to an increased amount of time for reading, students need opportunities to hear and use words in natural sentence contexts. They need to focus on words or concepts that have major impact on comprehension rather than “covering” many words superficially, and they need explicit instruction that leads them to become independent word learners.


Using “Facets of Word Meaning,” students continue to develop and maintain an adequate body of sight words and add content words to their sight vocabulary.




  • manageable word list (5 to 10 words)

  • paper, pencils

  • dictionaries

  • chart paper, markers

  • word journals/personal dictionaries



Direct Explanation: “Today we are going to learn a new strategy to help us add words to our sight word list. I am going to give you two words to look up in your dictionary. The first word is ‘banter’. Who has the definition? ‘Banter’ means ‘to exchange joking or teasing remarks’. Is this a student friendly definition or do we need to put it in our own words? We could say that ‘banter’ means ‘to joke or tease with someone’. Please write the word ‘banter’ and its student friendly definition in your personal dictionary. Now we are going to see a word (banter) not as a single block of meaning but as having different facets (different ways to consider something) to its meaning. We are going to use the activity of differentiating between two descriptions of the word by labeling them as an example or nonexample of the target word. The descriptions should be similar to features that are critical to the word’s meaning.”




Here is an example and nonexample for banter:


A husband and wife argue about what to have for dinner.

A husband and wife kid each other about what to have for dinner.


Which one is the example and which one is the nonexample? A husband and wife arguing about what to have for dinner is the nonexample. A husband and wife kidding about what to have for dinner is an example of banter because banter means to joke or kid with someone.”



Guided Practice:

Now we are going to look up the word ‘impatient’ in our dictionary and create a student friendly definition to write in our personal dictionaries. What does ‘impatient’ mean?” Possible student responses might be: Unable to wait; restless. “Please write the word ‘impatient’ in your dictionary and its definition. Now let’s write an example and nonexample for ‘impatient’.”


impatient: (key words)

A boy counts the days until his birthday and wishes the time would go faster.

A boy tells his friends about his birthday party and hopes they can come.




Tomorrow we will review the two words we learned today, ‘banter’ and ‘impatient’. Then we will break into cooperative learning groups, define two new words and write student friendly definitions in our personal dictionaries. We will then create an example and nonexample for each word to share with the other groups. We will continue this procedure until we have defined, recorded, and created an example and nonexample for each word. We will have a test over the words next week.”



Tier II Additions/Accommodations:

  • Group members will help students identify the key words in the examples and nonexamples developed by their group.


Assessment: Highlight the key word(s) in the definition.



Tier III Modifications:

  • Write the sentence on a sentence strip, but the key word(s) will be written on cards. Student will select the card with the key word(s) that applies to the vocabulary term instead of locating the key word(s) in the sentence.

Assessment: Student will identify the key word(s) that apply to the vocabulary term.

Example: banter: kid argue



Tier IV Modifications:
  • Pre-teach the vocabulary before the whole group lesson

  • Active thinking – have student act out the meanings of the words

  • Personal definition of word using pictures, symbols or other concrete method

  • Use peer buddy to write the responses


Assessment: Find the picture or symbol that best represents the word or words.



Tier V Modifications:

  • Pre-teach vocabulary

  • Limit vocabulary presented each time

  • Provide extra practice

  • Daily review

  • Use Minspeak, Unity or electronic input and/or output

  • Have student develop a dictionary of definitions that are at their level


Assessment: Find the picture or symbol that best represents the word or words.


Sight Vocabulary + Vocabulary Test



Beck, McKeown, and Kucan (2002) Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction, The Guilford Press


Copyright © 2006 Arkansas Department of Education. All rights reserved. School districts may reproduce these materials for in-school student use only. No resale. Materials may not be reproduced, distributed or sold for Commercial use or profit. ADE employees are not authorized to waive these restrictions.

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