Teaching Vocabulary in Social Studies and Science Part 2

Using new vocabulary words in our daily lingo is a fast track way to making these new words a permanent part of our personal dictionary. So how do we help students use their new vocabulary on a daily basis?


The second most important part of my vocabulary acquisition in the classroom was actually the first thing I began using with my students. Interactive notebooks and binders!


Do you students have notebooks or binders? My students use interactive notebooks to take notes and study. Including vocabulary in their notebooks is extremely important to me because I let them use their notebooks on projects and daily activities so they can use the vocabulary words in conversation and their work.


Even during openings I will ask for the word that fits what I am describing and have students get their notebooks out to help them figure it out.


I find my ELL and ESS students referencing their notebooks on a very regular basis. My gifted students like to try to use as many vocabulary words in a sentence as possible (although some of them become irritated with me for making them use the “fancy” word for things they are trying to describe with whose-its and whats-its).

Students can use a flip-book style of folding the vocabulary words so they can quiz themselves on the definitions (like picture in the two above pictures).

Some students prefer to have the words or definitions glued down while the opposite piece is in a bag they can pull out and match over and over again.


Still other students like for both words and definitions to be visible at all times so they have everything they need accessible with a simple glance.


I have seen other teachers make a glossary at the back of their notebooks where students place words in alphabetical order to make them easier to find (this is not my preferred style because I add words with each unit and this would make it nearly impossible to get the words in alphabetical order).

Allowing students to have access to their words and definitions makes working these new words into their permanent dictionary that much easier.

For part one of teaching vocabulary in science and social studies click here.

For more details about the interactive notebook pieces I use in my classroom, check out my TPT store.

I want to here from you! Do you have students put vocabulary words into their notebooks? How do you help students gain and use new vocabulary in their everyday speech?

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