How to Integrate Vocabulary Instruction Throughout Your Day

Vocabulary instruction is an integral part of our lessons. However, we often can’t find time to weave direct instruction into our day. As an ESL certified teacher, I am always thinking about vocabulary. I know that many of my ELLs are not grasping concepts due to the lack of vocabulary. I have found that weaving these instructional pieces into my day not only benefits my ELLs but ALL my students.

Positively Reward Vocabulary Use ALL Day

I like to give rewards to vocabulary words I have specifically taught, that are being used throughout the day correctly. Students love to be rewarded, and not just younger students. These rewards can be as simple as a little certificate that just shows you noticed them utlizing vocabulary correctly. It will encourage them to continue using it correctly in the future.  I like to give out these awards intermittently when i’ve given explicit instruction.

Have Discussions About Vocabulary 

I think this is engrained in me from teaching English Language Learners for many years, but I am constantly doing informal vocabulary checks with my students. Before we read, during reading, and during lessons I check to make sure students are understanding vocabulary words. Vocabulary hinders comprehension. If we are reading above level, we need to be cognizant of our students that are losing interest due to lack of vocabulary understanding and comprehension.

Vocabulary Morning Work

I use this quick check in the morning to help start my students thinking about vocabulary during the day. It comes in a couple of different formats for older and younger students. Both formats encourage using the word in a sentence, drawing a picture to depict the words, and finding synonyms and antonyms for the words.

Click here to see the Vocabulary Morning Work set for grades 1-3.

Click here to see the Vocabulary Morning Work Set for Grades 4-6.

Vocabulary in Context

This can be done in many different ways. I specifically created a product which I use during my intervention time that I have found extremely helpful. I tailored this product around my knowledge of ELLs, vocabulary instruction, and instruction for upper and lower elementary students. This Vocabulary in Context product provides ways for students to see vocabulary in text and be able to use it fluently. Reviewing your content and text ahead of time, and then providing definitions of challenging words is essential especially with ELLs. Then giving them follow up activities as well as having them utilize the words in writing, helps comprehension tremendously!

Click here to see Vocabulary in Context for Grades 1-3

Click here to see Vocabulary in Context for Grades 4-6.

Hopefully these vocabulary tips can prove themselves to be useful additions to your day! Happy teaching 🙂


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