Suggested Time Allotment: 44 minutes

Group Size: Any

Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will identify words that they don’t know the meaning, how to pronounce, and/or don’t understand.
  2. Students will learn how to look up a word using a dictionary and read a dictionary definition effectively.
  3. Students will write sentences using the correct context for the identified words that they originally didn’t know the meaning, how to pronounce, and/or didn’t understand.


Guiding Question:

Have students respond to the following questions by raising their hands. (1) Ask students if they ever come across a word while their reading that they don’t know what the word means? (2) Ask students if they ever come across words they don’t know how to pronounce when their reading? (3) Lastly, ask students if they have ever come across words they don’t understand while reading? Explain to students that this lesson is going to help them identify words in the text their reading as well as provide them with a strategy to use when they come to a word they don’t understand and/or know.


• Newspaper article, read-aloud book, chapter book, or content-area textbook (each student needs the same piece of text)

• Overhead Projector (optional)

• Make overhead transparencies or a copy for each student of Tools 2-2a, 2-2b, and 2-2c from Step Up to Writing curriculum.

• Pencils (for each student)

• Dictionaries (fore each student or enough for partners)

• Notebook Paper (for each student)


Using Tool 2-2a, read the definition of electron microscope and review the components of a definition with your class.

  1. Point out and discuss the pronunciation keys and the rules for breaking words into syllables.
  2. Remind your students about the parts of speech, and help them with abbreviations.
  3. Assign students a passage of silent reading and or give them a copy of text. The passage might be a newspaper article, a chapter from a book, a few paragraphs from a content area textbook. The entire class should read the same piece of text.
  4. Select words from the students’ text that are unfamiliar; and practice pronouncing them using the pronunciation key and the syllable divisions.
  5. Using Tools 2-2b and 2-2c, read the definitions with your students and review each definition and other elements of the dictionary entry.
  6. Notice the labels and explanations in the first column and the definitions in the second column.
  7. Remind students that synonyms are words that mean the same or almost the same thing as the word being defined.
  8. Explain that derivations, roots, prefixes, and suffixes can help people remember new words. They can also help with spelling and with figuring out meanings of unfamiliar words that contain familiar roots, prefixes, or suffixes.
  9. Now, allow students time to read their text silently. Explain to students that as they read the text they need to have a pen in hand and a piece of paper out recording words they don’t know, don’t know the meaning to, and/or don’t know how to pronounce.
  10. Model the above step for the students. Read aloud a piece of text and record
    difficult words.
  11. As students finish reading and recording difficult words, have them choose five words to look up in the dictionary. If you don’t have enough dictionaries for each student then allow students to work in pairs.
  12. Students should look closely at the pronunciation key, part of speech, and definition for each word.
  13. Next, students need to write a sentence for each word they look up using the appropriate definition as how the word is used in their initial piece of text.



Teachers will informally assess students as they respond aloud to class discussion and questions posed. Teachers will formally assess students work by collecting each student’s paper and reading their sentences. Teachers will also collect the paper with their lists of difficult words. By assessing which words students have difficulty with teachers can identify which students needs one-on-one instruction with particular reading skills. For example, students may have trouble sounding out words with multiple syllables.

Benchmark or Standards:

Oregon State Benchmarks and Standards

CCG: Vocabulary:
Increase word knowledge through systematic vocabulary development; determine the meaning of new words by applying knowledge of word origins, word relationships, and context clues; verify the meaning of new words; and use those new words accurately across the subject areas.

  • EL.CM.RE.08 Understand, learn, and use new vocabulary that is introduced and taught directly through informational text, literary text, and instruction across the subject areas.
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