Acquiring New Vocabulary Through Book Discussion Groups

This site opens to a preview/overview of the lesson and includes tabs that link to NCTE/IRA and state standards, resources and preparation, and the instructional plan with assessment. While reading the book Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco, students identify words that are unfamiliar to them. Working collaboratively in small groups, they discuss the meaning of these new words, using context clues from the text, prior knowledge, and both print and online resources. Students then apply their knowledge of the new vocabulary to further their understanding of the text. With moderate preparation and further research of topic-related resources, this lesson can be modifies and reused for other areas of the curriculum.

Standards & Objectives

Learning objectives: 

Students will:

  • Develop new strategies to enhance reading comprehension.
  • Locate unfamiliar words in a story and determine their meaning using a variety of strategies (e.g., prior knowledge, context clues, group discussion, media sources).
  • Acquire new vocabulary identified from the assigned text.
  • Enhance understanding of new vocabulary by making connections to related ideas and other words.
  • Aim to use new vocabulary in speaking and writing.
  • Aim to continually use the practiced strategies to enhance reading comprehension and acquire new vocabulary.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 
  • Have students keep a word log during Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) as a way to repeat this activity regularly on an independent level. The lesson Using a Word Journal to Create a Personal Dictionary, although intended for grades 6–8, can easily be adapted for younger students. 
  • Practice the strategy using words that students encounter during their other classes. After introducing a word, ask students to predict what they think the word means, refer to the dictionary to find the actual definition, engage in a group discussion relating the word to their prior knowledge, and use the word in a sentence of their own. Continued repetition and practice with the strategy is beneficial.
  • Repeat this lesson with other trade books or basal assignments. Be sure to compile a list of age-appropriate resources related to the text selection to assist students in defining new words.