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This lesson is designed to help students comprehend and use vocabulary words to understand their context in a unit. Before starting a new unit, students should obtain a list of vocabulary words and be able to demonstrate their understanding of each meaning. These vocabulary strategies enable the student to read more fluently, understand the author's word choice, and gain deeper insight into the meaning of a text.

Related Activities

Check out these visual vocabulary activities from our guides on The Great Gatsby, Freak the Mighty, and Spanish Family Tree Vocabulary.

Overview of the Lesson

In any classroom, teaching vocabulary is a key component for expanding student knowledge. A perfect way for students to practice their vocabulary skills is to create storyboards that incorporate use of words in a real life context. When students define, then use a word, they master the application of it and retain it in their vocabulary.

Teacher Note: Students retain the most information when they go through the stages of acquisition. It is not until they can apply their knowledge that they show mastery. Therefore, it is important to get students using words in context.


The lesson time may vary depending on the number of words per unit. Research suggests that in the long run, teachers can have a greater impact on vocabulary by giving students repeated exposures to 5-10 useful new words every week, rather than by drilling them on 20 or more words at a time (most of which will be forgotten within a couple of months).


Although this lesson can be used for multiple grade levels, below are examples of the Common Core Standards for Grades 9-10. Please see the Common Core Standards for correct grade-appropriate strands.

  • ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6: Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression
  • ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies
  • ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3: Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening

Lesson-Specific Essential Questions

  1. How can I increase my vocabulary?
  2. How does the understanding of vocabulary increase our comprehension of challenging texts?
  3. How do we determine the meaning of unknown words?


Students will learn new vocabulary words, use them correctly in a sentence, and understand their meaning in the text.

Background Knowledge

Prior to this lesson, students should be able to locate definitions using a dictionary or a computer.

Anticipated Student Preconceptions / Misconceptions

Most students struggle with using words in a sentence because they lack the ability to disseminate the part of speech for a word, or because a word has multiple definitions. Make sure that you go over the anticipated meaning of the word before students use these vocabulary words in sentences.


  • For ELL students, offer them a side-by-side dictionary. Depending on their ELP level, it may be helpful for them to know the word in their first language. This can greatly help them understand the vocabulary word's meaning.

Before / During Reading

Give students a list of words that they will encounter during their reading. The teacher can choose if this list should contain the definitions or if the students should be using a dictionary (physical or electronic) to find their meanings. Once students have completed this, they should routinely use these words to gain mastery. Before reading, ask students to create storyboards that use the word in a sentence correctly. It is helpful if you ask them to include the part of speech for each word.

During reading you can have students track words, finding the page number, line, and quote where each word is used. They can then use these items to create a storyboard showing the actual expression of the word from the novel.

Variations on Storyboard Vocabulary Activities

When planning a vocabulary activity, consider desired performance objects and necessary modifications for both student ability and subject.

  • Student finds vocabulary word(s) or words are provided by teacher
  • Student tries to guess meaning through context and/or gets definition from online or print dictionary
  • Student finds quote from the text using vocabulary word and/or writes original sentence using vocabulary word
  • Student finds synonyms and distinguishes shades of meaning
  • Student creates an image based on a sentence provided by teacher

Subject Related Applications

In other subject areas that require students to learn subject-specific vocabulary, students can create storyboards that define a process or visually depict a time period, event, or theory!

Even more exciting is the ability for students to practice foreign language words in context. As students acquire new words, phrases, and expressions, they can make storyboards that practice their new language.

How to Create Visual Vocabulary Resources


Select Key Vocabulary Words

Identify the key vocabulary words that you want to focus on for your students. Choose words that are important for their learning and align with the curriculum.


Find Or Create Relevant Images

Search for or create visual images that represent each vocabulary word. Use online image databases, clip art, or create your own drawings to visually represent the words.


Create Flashcards Or Posters

Arrange the images and corresponding vocabulary words into flashcards or posters. Ensure that the images and words are clear and visible for students to easily understand.


Add Definitions Or Context

Include brief definitions or provide contextual sentences to accompany each vocabulary word. This helps students understand the meaning and usage of the words in context.


Organize And Label The Resources

Organize the visual vocabulary resources in a systematic way for easy reference. Label each flashcard or poster with the corresponding vocabulary word for clarity.


Enhance With Colors And Visual Appeal

Use colors and visual elements to make the resources visually appealing and engaging. This can help students remember and connect the vocabulary words with their meanings.

Frequently Asked Questions about Vocabulary Lesson Plan

What is the purpose of the vocabulary lesson plan?

The purpose of the vocabulary lesson plan is to help students comprehend and use vocabulary words in the context of a unit, enabling them to read more fluently, understand the author's word choice, and gain deeper insight into the meaning of a text.

How can students practice their vocabulary skills?

Students can practice their vocabulary skills by creating storyboards that incorporate the use of words in real-life contexts. This helps them to define and use a word, master its application, and retain it in their vocabulary.

How much time should be dedicated to the Vocabulary Lesson Plan?

The lesson time may vary depending on the number of words per unit. However, research suggests that teachers can have a greater impact on vocabulary by giving students repeated exposures to 5-10 useful new words every week, rather than drilling them on 20 or more words at a time.

Image Attributions
  • evolution • Paul Keller • License Attribution (
  • Molecule Mutant • schoschie • License Attribution (
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