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Module 5 Activity Guide

Building strong foundations: developing early literacy skills. Module 5: Developing vocabulary


A strong, explicit routine for teaching new vocabulary in-depth is important for supporting new word learning across the curriculum. This activity provides teachers with the opportunity to plan for instruction using an effective instructional routine.

(Note: this lesson plan can be directly tied to classroom observations in the “implementation” section of the facilitator guide for Module 5).

  • Time: 30-40 Minutes
  • Group Size: individual or grade level team

Materials Needed

  • Text selected for read-aloud or content instruction
  • Copies of Instructional Routine to Teach Vocabulary Explicitly


Young child smiling shyly with his chin in his hands and his elbows on a book.


  1. Ask teachers to peruse the selected text and locate three to five Tier 2 words that will be taught in-depth using the Instructional Routine to Teach Vocabulary Explicitly (linked above). If desired, the Vocabulary Lesson Template (DOCX) can be used to provide teachers a space to plan their instruction.
  2. Utilize the components of the instructional routine to plan for explicit teaching of the selected words. Include planned opportunities for students to engage in discussion and use of the term in context. Write/plan sentence stems to support discussion if necessary.
  3. Debrief: What steps of the instructional routine were new? Which parts are you already doing? What other considerations would support targeted vocabulary instruction with the learners you currently have in your classroom?


A continuum chart is an excellent way to preview vocabulary terms that will occur in a text or unit of study in order to allow students time to reflect on their current level of understanding before encountering the terms in the lessons.  While not all the terms may be taught in-depth, the list should include terms essential to understanding the text or content. It is important to note that all terms should be presented phonologically and not only in print to ensure students have an appropriate phonological representation of the words they will be reading.

  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Group size: individual or grade level team

Materials Needed

  • Text selected for read-aloud or content instruction
  • Copies of (or access to) Handout 3.4 Continuum Charts
  • Poster paper and markers OR Laptop for word processing


  1. Ask participants to take out their selected text (this can be the same text from the vocabulary lesson if both activities are being completed).  Skim the text for any terms that students will need to know, either at a basic level or in-depth, to successfully read or work with the text. The Three Tiers can be helpful when considering words to choose. Create a list of these words .
  2. Either on a large poster paper or in a word processing document, create a table similar to the one on the Continuum Chart (linked above). The categories may vary slightly depending on the grade level involved (for example, a kindergarten teacher might use smiley/straight/frowny faces instead of words). Still, each category should represent a continuum of knowledge about the word.  Create enough spaces on the left column to insert all of the terms selected from the text.
  3. Decide (individually or in a group) how the activity will be presented to students to ensure each term is presented phonologically. Will the list simply be read as students follow along and repeat? Will each word be presented, repeated, and then marked for students’ knowledge on the continuum? Will the chart be presented to the whole group, with students marking each word on a single chart (sticky notes, sticker dots, etc), or will each student individually score on a personal paper?  Will the chart be revisited during work with the unit or text, or after?
  4. Debrief.

About the Review Activities' Guide:

The activities detailed in this guide were compiled to complement the training in scientifically and evidence-based reading instruction provided through the Colorado Department of Education by Public Consulting Group (PCG). Options for activities are intended to review content and strengthen learning from the modules in the training and are listed in the Facilitator Guide. Some activity options include links to resources needed for the individual activity. Each optional activity consists of a materials list, approximate time required and group size recommended, and steps to completing the activity with participants.

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