Posts Tagged ‘vocabulary activities’

Free Instructional Vocabulary Resources

Vocabulary instruction is vitally important to advanced reading comprehension and writing. Words are the foundations of our language. Students learn the words they need to converse, read, and write in three key ways. First, students learn academic vocabulary through wide reading in a variety of genre at their instructional level. Simply lots of reading does not improve vocabulary. What is read determines what is learned. It may be that most teachers need to increase the textual complexity of class novels and assigned independent reading to maximize vocabulary growth. Second, students improve their vocabulary from becoming more efficient in recognizing context clues and applying the context clue categories to making educated guesses as to the meanings of unknown words. Looking up every word in the dictionary is not advisable. Third, learning high frequency Greek and Latin roots/affixes builds academic vocabulary. Greek and Latinates are found in 50% of all English dictionary entries.

Following are articles, free resources, and teaching tips regarding how to teach vocabulary in the intermediate, middle, and high school grades from the Pennington Publishing Blog. Bookmark and visit us often. Oh, and don’t forget to copy down the 10% discount code found only on this blog to purchase the quality curricula and resources offered by Pennington Publishing.


Common Core Academic Language Words

Yes, the Common Core authors view literacy development as a mutual responsibility of all educational stakeholders. Yes, history, science, and technology teachers need to teach domain-specific academic vocabulary. However, there is a difference between academic language and academic vocabulary. The latter is subject/content specific; the former is not. Reading more challenging expository novels, articles, documents, reports, etc. will certainly help students implicitly learn much academic language; however, academic language word lists coupled with meaningful instruction do have their place. So, which word lists make sense?

Common Core Greek and Latinates

The bulk of Vocabulary Standards are now included in the Language Strand of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Greek and Latin affixes (prefixes and suffixes) and roots are key components of five of the grade level Standards: Grades 4-8. Which Greek and Latin affixes and roots should we teach? How many should we teach? How should we teach them?

Teaching the Language Strand

Teaching the Language Strand (of the Common Core State Standards) is part of a comprehensive Grades 4-8 language program, designed to address each Standard in the Language Strand of the Common Core State Standards in 60-90 weekly instructional minutes. This full-year curriculum provides interactive grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling lessons, a complete spelling patterns program, language application openers, and vocabulary instruction. The program has all the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets, each with a formative assessment. Progress monitoring matrices allow teachers to track student progress. Each instructional resource is carefully designed to minimize teacher preparation, correction, and paperwork. Appendices have extensive instructional resources, including the Pennington Manual of Style and downloadable essay-comments. A student workbook accompanies this program.

Overview of the Common Core Language Strand

English-language arts teachers have long been accustomed to the four-fold division of our “content” area into Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. These divisions have been widely accepted and promoted by the NCTE, publishers, and other organizations. In a nod to the fearsome foursome, the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts maintains these divisions (now called strands) with two notable revisions: Speaking and Listening are combined and Language now has its own seat at the table. So who exactly is this new dinner guest? For those just beginning to explore the CCSS Language Strand, an overview may be helpful.

How to Teach the Common Core Vocabulary Standards

What most teachers notice after careful reading of the Common Core Vocabulary Standards is the expected breadth, complexity, and depth of instruction across the grade levels. These vocabulary words require direct, deep-level instruction and practice in a variety of contexts to transfer to our students’ long-term memories. So which instructional strategies make sense to teach the Common Core Vocabulary Standards? And what is the right amount of direct, deep-level vocabulary instruction that will faithfully teach the Common Core Vocabulary Standards without consuming inordinate amounts of class time? Following is a weekly instructional plan to teach the L.4, 5, and 6 Vocabulary Standards.

Why Vocabulary Lists Don’t Work

Teaching vocabulary word lists does not work. The strategy of giving twenty words on Monday and testing on Friday is both inefficient and ineffective. However, three instructional strategies do make sense to help students improve their vocabularies.

How to Improve Your Vocabulary

Knowing common Greek and Latin prefixes, roots, and suffixes will significantly improve one’s vocabulary. In fact, over half of the words in any dictionary contain a Greek or Latin word part. Academic language especially relies on Greek and Latin. This article gives the high frequency word parts to improve anyone’s vocabulary.

How to Teach Prefixes, Roots, and Suffixes

Prefixes, roots, and suffixes: These word parts that are, indeed, the keys to academic vocabulary—the types of words that students especially need to succeed in school. However, most teachers do not know the best instructional methods to teach these important word parts. Learn the techniques that work best.

Context Clues Vocabulary Review Game

This context clues vocabulary review game helps students apply the five major context clues categories to informed word guessing. Using the Pictionary® game, students drawing context clues according to the five categories.

Vocabulary Word Part Games

Students are more likely to use study and practice procedures that are “game-like” and less boring than simple rote memorization. Here are some fun and effective vocabulary word part review games.

Vocabulary Review Games

Students are more likely to use study and practice procedures that are “game-like” and less boring than simple rote memorization. Here are some fun and effective vocabulary review games.

Top 40 Vocabulary Pet Peeves

Here is the list of the Top 40 Vocabulary Pet Peeves that make Americans see read. Read, laugh, and cringe over mistakes that you or your friends make when abusing these words.

How to Memorize Vocabulary

Many people want to improve their vocabularies, but memorization and retention are the key roadblocks. Not everyone has a natural ability to memorize. However, memorization is a skill that can be learned and improved upon with commitment and practice.

How to Teach and Learn Precise Vocabulary

Memorizing words with precise denotative and connotative definitions is important. Sloppy use of our language inhibits effective communication and leads to misunderstandings. Learn the techniques to teach vocabulary with precise meanings.

The Problem with Most Vocabulary Instruction Part I

Most teachers teach vocabulary inefficiently. Learn the common mistakes that teachers make in vocabulary instruction and how to re-orient vocabulary instruction to help students make real gains in vocabulary acquisition.

How We Learn Vocabulary from Reading Part II

Most vocabulary beyond the first ten thousand words comes from independent reading. Wide reading of challenging academic text produces the greatest net vocabulary gain.

How to Double Vocabulary Acquisition from Reading Part III

Refining the skills of context clues strategies will help readers increase vocabulary. Wide reading of challenging academic text is the most efficient method of vocabulary acquisition.

More Articles, Free Resources, and Teaching Tips from the Pennington Publishing Blog


Teaching Spelling and Vocabulary is the comprehensive curriculum that integrates spelling and vocabulary instruction. Perfect for RtI and intervention classes, the resources teach the standards-based conventional spelling rules with spelling tests, word sorts, and memorable spelling songs. Also get 64 remedial vowel-sound spelling worksheets that correspond with the comprehensive TSV Diagnostic Spelling Assessment to enable the teacher to truly differentiate spelling instruction. Vocabulary instruction is provided through weekly Greek and Latin affixes/roots worksheets, syllable and accent pattern worksheets, context clues worksheets, and syllable transformers. Additional resources include spelling games, vocabulary games, spelling and vocabulary flashcards, extensive word lists, and more. No other spelling-vocabulary program matches the comprehensive resources of this curriculum.  Truly differentiate instruction with the resources found in this large three-ring binder. 377 pages

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How to Improve Your Vocabulary

Memorizing the definitions of the most common Greek and Latin prefixes, roots, and suffixes will exponentially expand your reading vocabulary. Academic reading, especially in the social sciences and natural sciences are filled with words with Greek and Latin word parts. The verbal section of the SAT I is largely comprised of academic words having these word parts. Knowing even one word part of an unknown word greatly enhances the reader’s ability to accurately and efficiently use surrounding context clues to figure out the meanings of these words. You will also increase your spoken and written proficiency by using Greek and Latin prefixes, roots, and suffixes. But, outside of becoming fluent in Greek and Latin, which Greek and Latin word parts have the highest frequency?

Most Commonly-Used Prefixes

This list, compiled by White, Sowell, and Yanagihara (The Reading Teacher, 42, p. 306), has the twenty most frequently-used prefixes. In fact these largely Greek and Latin prefixes make up 97% of all prefixed words. Prefixes listed are in frequency order.


1. un-not

2. re-again

3. in, im, il, ir-not

4. dis-away from

5. en, em-in

6. non-not

7. in, im-in

8. over-above

9. mis-not

10. sub-under

11. pre-before

12. inter-between

13. fore-in front from

15. trans-across

16. super-above

17. semi-half

18. anti-against

19. mid-middle

20. under-too little

Frequently-Used Greek and Latin Roots

Following are the roots, meanings, origins, and example words. The roots are not in order of frequency.

1. struct-build, form-Latin-instruct

2. aud-hear-Latin-auditorium

3. mis-send-Latin-mission

4. astro-star-Greek-astrology

5. ped-foot-Latin-pedal

6. bio-life-Greek-biology

7. phon-sound-Greek-telephone

8. dict-say-Latin-predict

9. port-carry-Latin-import

10. geo-earth-Greek-geography

11. scrib-write-Latin-scribble

12. meter-measure-Greek-thermometer

13. scrip-write-Latin-scripture

14. min-little-small-Latin-minimum

15. spect-see-Latin-inspect

16. mit-send-Latin-transmit

Adapted from Stahl, S.A. and Shiel, T.G., Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Disabilities, 8, 223-241

Fifteen Power Greek and Latin Words

These fifteen words have prefixes or roots that are part of over 15,000 words. That is as many words as most student dictionaries! Memorize these words and the meanings of their prefixes and roots and you have significantly improved your vocabulary.

1. inaudible (not, hear)

2. dismiss (away from, send)

3. transport (across, carry)

4. unsubscribe (not, under, write)

5. predict (before, say)

6. remit (again, send)

7. encounter (in, against)

8. offer(against, carry)

9. inspect (in, see)

10. epilogue (upon, word)

11. antigen (against, people)

12. empathy (in, feeling)

13. intermediate (between, middle)

14. destruction(apart from, build)

15. superimpose (over, in, put)

Find 35 remedial and 32 advanced spelling-vocabulary worksheets, spelling word lists/tests,  Greek and Latin affixes/rootssyllable practice, and spelling-vocabulary games, spelling rules with memorable raps and songs on CD, a comprehensive whole-class diagnostic spelling assessment, enabling 4th–12th grade teachers to differentiate instruction and more in Mark’s book, Teaching Spelling and Vocabulary.

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