Content vocabulary is extremely important for students to understand. I find that this is especially true for subjects like science and social studies. When I introduce a new science topic I always start with the vocabulary. Vocabulary acquisition and instruction is extremely important in getting our students to own and understand the content words.
When I taught fourth grade science I really focused on vocabulary acquisition. So much of the content was more readily understood when students had a good understanding of the vocabulary words. We spent a lot of time at the beginning of a unit on this.
What does vocabulary instruction look like in my classroom?
Today, I will be walking you through how I set up vocabulary acquisition and instruction in my classroom. I will be using my Earth science vocabulary that is available in my TpT store to show the steps I take.
I have the students fill out a table on their familiarity with the words for the topic. This is a working document that we revisit throughout the study. Students will add snippets about what they have learned. I like doing this because it really makes students think about how familiar they are with the words.
This table lists all the words in a chapter/unit/lesson and students have to identify how familiar they are with the word. I also added a column for new information about the word as they work through the unit of study.
Vocabulary in Context
The next thing I do is have students read these vocabulary words in context and write their OWN definitions. This helps our students own these words. A typical spread in their notebook looks like the pages below.
I have the students glue both pages into their notebooks opposite each other. They are able to highlight and mark up the text. Once they have finished reading they will translate the definitions into their own easy to remember meanings.
Vocabulary Squares and Cards
Want to try it for free?
If you’re interested in this vocabulary acquisition you can check out this free unit on scientific method vocabulary!
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