Activity Overview

Starting a unit or lesson with the key vocabulary that students will see in their readings or presentations aids in overall comprehension and retention. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key vocabulary related to Ghost by Jason Reynolds.

Students will preview the terms and definitions and use whole class or small group discussion to demonstrate their understanding of each meaning. This can be done at the beginning of each chapter so that students can preview what they will read or teachers could decide to do at the end of a chapter as an assessment. Students will create a Spider map of 3-5 terms at the teachers discretion. Each cell will contain a term, its definition and an illustration that depicts the meaning. When students define and illustrate each term, they master the application of it and retain it as part of their lexicon.

Examples of Vocabulary from Ghost by Jason Reynolds:

  • Adrenaline
  • Albino
  • Altercation
  • Cleaver
  • Diabetes
  • Fartlek
  • Ladders
  • Loitering
  • Phlebotomy
  • Rap Sheet
  • Salisbury Steak
  • Dapped

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a storyboard that defines and illustrates vocabulary from Ghost.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the title boxes, identify the key terms you have chosen.
  3. In the description boxes, write the definition of the term.
  4. Create an illustration for each term using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  5. Save and exit when you're done.

Requirements: Must have 3 terms, correct definitions, and appropriate illustrations for each that demonstrate your understanding of the words.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [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
  • [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/9-10/6] 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


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Define and illustrate each of the key terms.
7 Points
4 Points
1 Points
The vocabulary words are correctly defined.
The meaning of the vocabulary words can be understood but it is somewhat unclear.
The vocabulary word is not clearly defined
The storyboard illustrations clearly depict the meaning of the vocabulary words.
The illustrations relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words but it they are difficult to understand.
The illustrations do not clearly relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

How to Present Vocabulary in Context


Help Students Preview List To See What They Know

Before a vocabulary lesson, you should preview the list of words with students to see what they already know. They may know some definitions outright, or they may be able to put word parts together to understand certain words. Activating prior knowledge brings success at the beginning of the activity, which is so helpful for student learners.


Teach Students to Use Context Clues While Reading Word in Text

There are a variety of context clue strategies that you can teach students so they can understand the context of a word. From the synonym/antonym technique to an explanation embedded in the text, students will be able to understand what words mean based on how they relate to other words in the sentence.


Cement Understanding with an Activity That Involves Writing and Drawing

Students learn best by doing, so if you really want to help them learn vocabulary, have them write a definition or example sentence, as well as draw an illustration of the word or a scene that shows the word in action. This helps students retain understanding.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ghost Vocabulary Activity for Students

Why is learning vocabulary in context so important?

When students learn vocabulary in context, rather than just memorizing the definitions of a list of words, they are more likely to retain their knowledge and use the context to make further connections with the words. This aids both present and future learning.

How can students use prior knowledge to understand vocabulary?

Before definitions are presented, it is helpful for students to activate prior knowledge about vocabulary words they already know. This deeper connection with the subject matter will help students remember the words better in the long-term.

Do drawings help retain knowledge?

Drawings are a great way to help students learn and remember. Activating the more creative side of the brain keeps the words and their definitions more easily embedded in a student's lexicon.

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