Define Glossary

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SWBAT use a glossary to define new words in their books

Big Idea

Featuring ... the glossary! Here students will use an important text feature and gain new vocabulary.


10 minutes

We have been using informational texts about animals to study animals and explore text features. Today we are going to further explore the glossary. To activate prior knowledge I show them my book and ask, "what genre is my book?" They tell me nonfiction. I prompt them to tell me another word that means nonfiction. The Common Core Curriculum uses the words informational texts and I try to get my students to use those words as well. We have used the words informational texts in previous lessons so when I ask for other another word the majority of the students tell me "informational." There are still a few students who say, "fiction." I will address this in a mini lesson with a small group of students at another time.

Next, I ask my students, "what type of text features can you find in informational texts?" As they tell me which text features they remember I point them out on our wall. I have included a picture of the posters on our wall in the resources section. We put these up when I first introduced text features in the lesson Fiction or Nonfiction? As I point to the wall students are prompted to read and recall other text features.

I open up my book to the glossary and tell the students we are going to talk more about this text feature. I ask them, "what text feature is this?" They tell me, "the glossary." My next question is, "what does the glossary teach us?" I am looking for the answer, "it tells us important words and what they mean."

Guided Practice

15 minutes

Common Core has students exploring informational texts and text features in early grades. Along with the shift to explore more informational texts is the shift to teach meaningful academic vocabulary. Here is a link to a video explaining more about the shift to meaningful academic vocabulary and the 3 tiers words are categorized into.

  • The standards expect that students will grow their vocabularies through a mix of conversations, direct instruction, and reading. The standards will help students determine word meanings, appreciate the nuances of words, and steadily expand their repertoire of words and phrases.

Today we are going to be using informational texts about animals to learn new vocabulary. 

I will show my students how a glossary is helpful to us. I find a bold word in the text. I point out how these two text features (bold words and the glossary) are often connected. I read paragraph that the word is in. I remind students that the bold word means that it is important to the text, and ask if anyone knows what it means. I explain to my class that it is important to understand the meaning of the words you are reading. After taking some students guesses, I ask them where they can find out what it means. The glossary. I turn to the glossary and read the definition. I turn back to the page with the word and read it again. "Does it make more sense now that we know the definition?"

I model a fun way to learn vocabulary words; making a foursquare. I show how to fold my paper into fourths, and give a heading to each box (word, definition, sentence, and picture). I ask my students to help me. "What was my word?" "Which box does it go in?" "What does it mean?" "Where does the definition go?" "What could I write for my sentence? Remember the sentence must include the word." "Which box do I write it in?" "What could I draw as my picture?" My picture needed a label. It was of a tongue. So we drew a mouth with a tongue sticking out. I drew a line pointing to the tongue and made a label for the tongue.

Independent Practice

20 minutes

Prior to this lesson students chose books from the library about an animal. The school librarian has the books labeled by grade level. In my classroom students have a bookmark that tells them which Lexile level they should look for when choosing a book from our classroom library. Since our school library hasn't yet made the switch to Lexile Levels, students also have a grade level range on their bookmark. Our librarian, myself, the bookmark, and my students using strategies to find a good-fit book, pick a nonfiction text about an animal that is on their reading level. 

I have a large ESL population and many readers that are far below grade level in reading. The vocabulary we will be learn is differentiated by the books they are using to do their animal research. Your students may have more complex books with more complex vocabulary. My students are new to most of the words they have written on their 4-square. We talked about choosing words that are interesting to them, and are words they didn't know before.

Today they are going to choose one word from the glossary and make a foursquare about the word. Please watch the video of one of my students explaining what she wrote. 

To make the foursquare they fold the paper into fourths. In one box they write the word. In another box they write the definition. In another box they create a sentence for the word, and in the last box they draw a picture. I have included photos in the resource section.


5 minutes

To conclude our lesson I have a few students share their work with the class. They were very excited to show their pictures and their sentences.