Vocabulary Lesson Plan

By Rebecca Ray

Find this Common Core aligned resource and more like it in our Elementary School, Middle School ELA, and High School ELA Categories!

This lesson is designed to help students comprehend and use vocabulary words in order 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.

Our Recommended Lesson Plan

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).

Grade Levels: 3-12


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.

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.


Instructional Materials / Resources / Tools

Access to dictionaries, vocabulary list, and the Storyboard Creator on Storyboard That

The Great Gatsby - Vocabulary
The Great Gatsby - Vocabulary


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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 in order 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.

Subject Related Applications

Vocabulary Storyboard Examples for Social Studies, Science, Math, and Foreign Language

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.

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Frayer Model Vocabulary

The Frayer Model is also especially useful for vocabulary. In addition to learning the definition, students will come to understand characteristics of the word or concept. Check out our article on the Frayer Model for more information!

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More Examples of Visual Vocabulary Boards

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