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The Importance of Vocabulary in Middle School

By Maddy Roach, Park Academy Teacher

In middle school Language Arts class we continuously learn new vocabulary, especially when reading novels in class. Our most recent novel, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, contains many new vocabulary words. For each new vocabulary word, students create a flash card with the word on the front and the definition on the back. Often times students will draw a picture to go along with the vocabulary word. They will also write synonyms and antonyms. Each day we quiz each other because, as we all know, repetition is key!

Why vocabulary is important

      • Exposure to new words
      • Figure out prefixes and suffixes to find the meaning
      • Find out the origin of the word
      • Review part of speech (adjectives, verbs, nouns, adverbs)
        • Builds comprehension
      • Improves ability to communicate

What we do to practice new vocabulary

      • Discuss the word in context
      • Identify the part of speech
      • Create an illustration, word web, definition or find synonyms
      • Write a story using vocabulary words–we use storybird.com
      • Act out the word–kinesthetic movement with a vocabulary word makes learning multisensory
        • Teacher Vocabulary Pocket–posted in the classroom for students to review
      • Quiz each other DAILY

Practicing vocabulary daily is beneficial for all students, and especially those with language learning differences. We don’t just memorize the word, we study it. We create an image, an action–some visual or kinesthetic movement that will imprint on our brains. We put the word into context to understand the meaning. Take a look at some students’ reflections on their vocabulary.  

Additional resources:




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