One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.

--Hart Crane

Elfrieda Heibert's Vocabulary and Reading Volume

Hip Hop and SAT Vocab

Larry Ferlazzo's best sites for developing academic vocabulary

Building Academic Vocabulary on Storify

Podcast: Making World Learning Fun for All

World's Most Difficult Vocab Test

How many of these words do you know?The 8 Count Rule

Art of Teaching Vocabulary

Podcast with Doug Fisher on vocab and common core

Free Rice: Vocabulary Insruction with a Social Conscience

Teaching Clusters of Words

Five Misconceptions about Teaching Vocabulary:

Wordia might be fun for students; try it out and post your reviews: wordia

Word Parts

Did you know that 20 prefixes account for 97% of words with prefixes? Check this out for those common prefixes as well as common roots in the English language:
Here it is as a Word document:

Common Core and Vocabulary:

Blog on preteaching words
Part 2 on vocab and CC
Cool Tools, a blog Common Core and vocabulary
Video from EngageNY

Principle 1: Vocabulary instruction matters!

Articles about vocabulary instruction:

Principle 2: Growing vocabulary is a complex process.

There are a number of traditional teaching practices related to vocabulary that deserve to be left in the "instructional dustbin." The key weakness in all of these practices is the limited or rote interaction students have with the new word/concept. Let us quickly review the most common of these less effective approaches.

  1. Look them up. Certainly dictionaries have their place, especially during writing, but the act of looking up a word and copying a definition is not likely to result in vocabulary learning (especially if there are long lists of unrelated words to look up and for which to copy the definitions).
  2. Use them in a sentence. Writing sentences with new vocabulary AFTER some understanding of the word is helpful; however to assign this task before the study of word meaning is of little value.
  3. Use context. There is little research to suggest that context is a very reliable source of learning word meanings. Nagy found that students reading at grade level had about a one twentieth chance of learning the meaning of a word from context. This, of course, is not to say that context is unimportant but that students need a broader range of instructional guidance than the exhortation "Use context."
  4. Memorize definitions. Rote learning of word meanings is likely to results, at best, in the ability to parrot back what is not clearly understood.
The common shortcoming in all of these less effective approaches is the lack of active student involvement in connecting the new concept/meaning to their existing knowledge base. Vocabulary learning, like most other learning, must be based on the learner's active engagement in constructing understanding, not simply on passive re-presenting of information from a text or lecture.


Principle 3: So many words, so little time.

Tier 1, 2, 3
Careful of those assumptions about what students know: The Elephant in the Room

Principle 4: Effective vocabulary instruction moves beyond the dictionary.

Reviewing the research literature on vocabulary instruction leads to the conclusion that there is no single best strategy to teach word meanings but that all effective strategies require students to go beyond the definitional and forge connections between the new and the known. Nagy3 summarizes the research on effective vocabulary teaching as coming down to three critical notions:

  1. Integration—connecting new vocabulary to prior knowledge
  2. Repetition—encountering/using the word/concept many times
  3. Meaningful use—multiple opportunities to use new words in reading, writing and soon discussion. http://www.phschool.com/eteach/language_arts/2002_03/essay.

Essay on vocab with lots of ideas

Instructional Activities:

Word sorts, a great activity for all students: Word Sorts and More on word sorts
Link to great vocabulary activities: From Reading


(Warning: do not overdo graphic organizers. When overdone, students think the goal is to complete the organizer rather than do the thinking that you're after. Also if students can create their own graphic organizer, let them do it. The purpose of graphic organizers is to help students think, not do the thinking for them.)

Vocabulary graphic organizers

Cool links:

Got Brainy

Links to vocabulary games or files of cool vocabulary games:

http://www.webenglishteacher.com/vocab2.html Tons of vocabulary activities and lots of resources for SAT prep and root/stem word connections.
The motherload of all vocabulary game websites (before, after and beyond): vocabulary games galore

Peter Smagornisky'sExpansions
9th grade games
Vocab games
English Vocab for ESL

Principle 5:

Teach towards student independence.

Set up a virtual vocabulary notebook:

Creating a Virtual Notebook

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Use of virtual notebooks allows students a great deal of room for creativity, freedom, and responsibility. Virtual notebooks allow students to access their notebooks from wherever the web is available to them and to enhance their work using multimedia resources. The use of virtual notebooks also provides for easier editing of notes, increased opportunities for collaboration among students, and creative exercises and expressions of individuality. We have found success with using wikispaces as the forum for virtual notebooks. What you will do is set up your own virtual notebook that you will use for this course and can then use as a model for student notebooks in your classroom if you choose (or you may decide to create a model virtual notebook for the sole purpose of walking students through the set up of their own). Keep in mind that you will then be able to use, with any modifications you see fit, these directions to guide your students through the creation of their own virtual notebooks.

Vocabulary notebook ideaMath-WordWall.jpg