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February 7, 2010 Use PowerPoint to Teach Vocabulary & Higher Level Thinking By Justin Lim

    At the beginning of each year, I poll students concerning what they enjoy and dislike the most about English class. So far, learning vocabulary has a sizable lead in the most disliked category. During that same poll, I also ask students to list what they feel are their greatest strengths and weaknesses in the classroom. It shouldn't be a surprise to them that vocabulary comes up again and again as a weakness too!

    When I first began educating, systematically teaching vocabulary was a problem for me. It seemed as though it was always the same. Either I would have students write definitions and write sentences with words in context, or I would have them do activities which involved drawing pictures or creating stories. The problem I ran into was that the former was not always effective, and the later would take too much time. After all, there was still the matter of teaching the lesson that the vocabulary went with!

    Things changed for me after attending a seminar by Dr. Kevin Feldmen, one of the co-authors of Scholastic's reading intervention program, Read 180. Ever since adopting his strategies, my students not only are able to remember new words for the long-term, but they also look forward to the lessons!

    Here's a systematic, engaging, and effective way to teach vocabulary using PowerPoint and higher level thinking.

    Slide 1:

    • Give the students the target word to copy down and have them repeat after you while they are writing.
    • Have them "rate" the word by holding up either a 1,2,3 or 4 with their fingers. 1 = don't know it at all. 2 = I've heard the word, but don't know it. 3 = I kind of know the word. 4 = I've got it down. The very act of self-assessing will get them mentally prepared.
    • Tell students the part of speech of the word.

    Screen shot 2010-02-07 at 6.55.17 PM


    • Reveal the definition. At this time the students will begin taking notes. Try to use definitions that are simple.

    Screen shot 2010-02-07 at 6.55.36 PM


    • While students are copying the definition, read examples to them. I usually don't have them copy the example sentences because it takes too long.
    • When they are finished copying the definition, read the examples to them a second time using the Oral Cloze technique. Leave out the target word for students to fill in.


    Screen shot 2010-02-07 at 6.56.05 PM


    Slide 2:

    • This is the critical step. Have students answer relevant questions using the target word instead of coming up with random sentences. This is effective because of instead of simply accessing the application level of Bloom's Taxonomy, they're doing more analyzing and evaluating, higher level thinking. 

    Screen shot 2010-02-07 at 6.56.20 PM


    • After students have generated responses to at least the first question, conduct a pair-share, so that students can practice verbally using the target word correctly.
    • When almost everybody is finished, chime in and pose the question to the class.


    The whole process can take some time when you first begin, but after students are used to the procedure, it becomes much quicker. Using this strategy, vocabulary has become engaging and empowering for my kids.

    For my fellow Read 180 teachers out there who want to give this a try, let me get you off on the right foot! Download my PowerPoints for all nine Stage C rBook Workshops by clicking on the link below!

    Download PowerPoints

    What are some creative ways that you teach vocabulary?

    Warm regards,

    Justin Lim

    Rosemead High School
    El Monte Union High School District

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