Common Core Vocabulary Activities for High School

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Helping your students develop their vocabulary is an important part of meeting the Common Core State Standards for each of the grades in high school. The activities in this lesson will help your students commit vocabulary to memory.

Why Vocabulary Activities?

If you are teaching using the Common Core State Standards, then you know that there are vocabulary words that students are expected to learn in each grade of high school. At the beginning of the year, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with these word lists - particularly with the words you do not think your students already know. However, knowing the right words to teach is only part of the story. A different question is how to help your students learn and remember these words and make them part of their active vocabulary.

One way to do this is by incorporating activities into your instruction. Activities enable your students to really focus in on vocabulary words and make them their own. Activities can also be designed to meet a variety of learning styles, so that your students can work from their strengths. The activities in this lesson are designed to help your high school students learn the vocabulary put forth by the Common Core.

Visual Activities

Many students learn best visually; they like to see diagrams, make images of how things fit together, and remember concepts by picturing them. The activities in this section appeal to these students as they learn vocabulary.

Concept Map

This activity works particularly well for vocabulary words that are conceptual in nature, such as 'analysis' or 'connotation.' Ask your students to write the word in the middle of their page and circle it. Then, have them draw arrows out from the word. At the end of each arrow, they should write or sketch examples that they associate with this concept. At the end, they will have made themselves graphic organizers for remembering this vocabulary.

Visual Glossary

This activity works especially well for vocabulary associated with a particular text or topic. Ask your students to create a list of key word from the passage or about the topic. Then, have them write the words in alphabetical order, each on one page of a small booklet. For each word, have students create an illustration that will help them remember the word's meaning and how it is used. Students can then refer back to their visual glossaries as they work through the relevant material.

Language-Oriented Activities

Sometimes, language itself is the best way to remember language! These activities will also help your students understand, internalize and activate new and critical vocabulary.

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