Vocabulary Strategies

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SWBAT write, draw, and interact with domain specific vocabulary.

Big Idea

Science vocabulary is the language of the scientific community and being able to understand and use these terms is an important science skill. Good vocabulary can help you say what you mean.

Science Vocabulary Journal - Write & Draw

20 minutes

CCSS RI.6.4 states students should determine meanings of symbols, key terms, and other domain specific words as they are used in a specific context. To help students learn and understand domain specific words, I post a word wall because it's best practice and when it's interactive it's even better. Word walls are strategies to increase vocabulary achievement through repeated daily exposure to these terms. Interactive word walls:

  • use semantic maps as graphic organizers
  • identify important ideas and how they fit together
  • visually show relationships among concepts
  • create a deeper understanding
  • can even have student generated material as a visual support


Good vocabulary can help you say what you mean. Everyday students must communicate (SP#8) ideas and thoughts, so it is important to build strong vocabulary skills. It's best practice, directly linked to student achievement, and there is a strong relationship between reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge. This lesson, Metric Vocabulary, will help you learn more about teaching key terms and other domain specific vocabulary in the content area.

I have students create a Science Vocabulary Journal where they write and draw about important vocabulary terms. I create a vocabulary term template for students to use with each word. This template includes: the term, a definition, a visual representation of the term, and examples and non-examples of the term. Giving students time to write and draw about each term will increase their overall achievement. Encourage students to use a dictionary and/or thesaurus to get ideas of examples(synonyms) and non-examples(antonyms).

In this lesson, students will complete the templates in their vocabulary journal for the terms: rotate, revolve, orbit, and eclipse from this unit (Earth, Sun, Moon).

Teacher Tip: Some extended vocabulary activities to use in your classroom include: reading non-fiction text like newspapers and articles, playing dictionary games, doing word puzzles, using a thesaurus, knowing root words, and understanding prefixes and suffixes.

Vocabulary Game

20 minutes

Games and interactive activities are important to student achievement. Playing games is a powerful instructional strategy because:

  • Students learn through the process of playing games.
  • Games provide a context for engaging practice.
  • Students learn a variety of important skills through games.
  • Students develop an assortment of connections to the content.
  • Games grab their attention and actively engage them.


By giving students time to play a game as a way to review, they will increase their use and understanding of precise domain specific vocabulary.

For each group of students, I provide a Game Board Template, a copy of the Game Directions, a baggie with one die and pawns for 4-6 players, and Vocabulary Cards with the vocabulary term and definition. Allow time (10 minutes) for students to personalize their Blurt Game Board by using colored pencils and/or markers and adding pictures and/or images. On the game board, I ask students to add the words Start and Finish, draw some arrows, write ideas in some squares (ie - move forward 5 spaces), and write a title on the board.

Students Playing Blurt Game

Student Reflection on Playing Games