Vocabulary Maps

Explicit vocabulary instruction is an effective method for teaching students important and unfamiliar words. Explicit instruction requires content area teachers to (1) select a manageable number of words that are critical to understanding the main ideas and key points in a lesson or unit, (2) determine how each word’s meaning will be conveyed to students, and (3) develop examples and nonexamples to illustrate each word.

Teacher-developed “vocabulary maps” are graphic organizers that typically contain a vocabulary word, student-friendly definition, visual representation, synonyms, example sentences, and prompts for student “turn and talk” activities. This information is presented directly to students in a whole-group format at a brisk pace before reading text.

Field Guide Alignment: Reading Principle 2, Practice 1


Learn about the strategy


See the strategy in action

Explicit vocabulary instruction in 6th grade Language Arts 
Developed by Dr. Anita Archer

Explicit vocabulary instruction in 8th grade Geometry
Developed by Dr. Anita Archer


Use the strategy

Observation checklist 
Developed by MSMI

Vocabulary Map

Customizable blank template
completed example
Developed by MSMI

Instructions for advanced Google image search
Developed by MSMI

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