Vocabulary Clarification Activity

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TSWBAT review the meanings of domain specific words located in our text and other sources.

Big Idea

Put a vocabulary card over a classmate's head and let the fun begin!

Warm Up

10 minutes

Our Government Unit is well underway, and it's time to review the domain specific words that the kids should be using naturally. RI.5.4 is where the students determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words in their text related material.  We have been doing this and they respond well to this type of important practice. As is sometimes the case, using a word and officially defining a word can be two different things.  A student will tell me, "I know exactly what it means, I just can't tell you in a sentence."  I like them to participate in class activities to work on that "definitionish" aspect. 

I pull up the list of ten *Government Vocab* words and definitions we've been using frequently in class, and display on the Smart Board (*Government Vocab*). We go over each term. The kids write the word and a sentence on a 3x5 card after reading the definition, one on each side (Writing Vocabulary Cards and Sentences).

In today's activity using their sentence as a reference gives them a good clue as to the meaning, and it's another way to test whether or not they've retained the information (Finishing the Vocabulary Cards and Sentences). It's also rewarding for them to see the amount of words they actually know (Having Fun).


30 minutes

This technique for vocabulary review is fabulous and fun.  The kids look forward to it and respond well. I pick two sticks and call the students up to the front of the room (What's the Vocab Word?). One student sits in a chair, and the other holds a 3x5 card with the vocabulary word behind the other's head (Try as he might, he can't see it!).

I pick students to give a clue as to what the word is without using the specific definition.  As soon as the answer is given correctly, the students change places, and we try a new word (Clue givers). One more duo comes forward to repeat the process.  This can continue to be a whole group activity, but I have found that there's not enough action for the spectators and it eventually gets hard to keep their attention.  At an appropriate time, I put them in trios and they repeat the activity with their group (Trade off ) in places around the room using the cards they made during the warm up (Checking the Word List on the Smart Board).

The benefits of this type of review are three-fold.  The student on the chair and the one holding the card know they are being focused on and really think of the meaning of those words, as well as the ones volunteering to contribute clues.  Everyone is engaged, and by the time they break off into trios (Can you guess?) they have heard the vocabulary words many times over (Lots of action). Through all this repetition and fun they will certainly feel success with their small group.

Example of the Activity


15 minutes

They're well versed on the vocabulary words by this point in the lesson, although it's not the last time we'll review.  I pass out a comprehension page from the effective Scholastic resource 180 Essential Vocabulary Words for 5th graders.  They complete the vocabulary pages specific to government. On the back they use knowledge about government to write a paragraphs about the topic.  

Here is the prompt: Construct a paragraph about one way in which government affects your life. (How Does Government Affect Me?)

They use at least three tier three vocabulary words from the lesson.  Once the paragraph is complete, they go back through and highlight or underline the vocabulary words they used (Emphasizing the Govt. Words) in their writing (Two Examples of How Govt Affects My Life).