Developing key vocabulary across the curriculum #LiteracyChat


Strategies to develop key vocabulary across the curriculum

Important considerations:

1)   Students must know / understand the key vocabulary – no good using if they don’t know the meaning

2)   Teaching words within sentences – essential to get context right

3)   One school suggests –


Subject areas:

1)   Literacy mats – key words, writing frames, paragraph plans



2)   Glossaries – at the start of the unit give the students a bank of the key words and ask them to fill in as they go through the unit.  Equally, at the start of a lesson show students key vocabulary and ask them to write a definition.  Ask students to return to this at the end of the lesson and add to their definitions based upon learning in lesson.

3)   Key words identified on every slide that is produced in your lesson

4)   Modelling vocabulary in talk before encouraging students to emulate in writing

5)   Repetition is key

6)   Use the phrase ‘How would a Historian / Biolgist etc…write or speak about this topic?’

7)   Importance of students seeing exciting words in texts before using them themselves.

8)   Students sit in ‘dictionary corner’.  Students then responsible for teaching keywords and testing peers.  In addition, vocabulary thiefs who wander around the classroom and nick fantastic words to display on the board.

9)   Spelling tests

10)               Using Twitter – 140 summaries – encourages precision with vocabulary

11)               Vocabulary as part of the writing process:

 ImageStretching the more able:

1)   Vocabulary fans


2)   Take-away words


3)   Vocabulary chart


4)   Opposition – banning certain words in writing


5)   Avoid using the word ‘very’








Less able

1)    A visualisation to accompany key word


Tutor time

1)   A cross curricular focus – word-searches, criss cross, crosswords using key vocabulary from across subject areas

2)   Matching key words with definitions – BINGO

3)   Games such as scrabble, articulate and Jenga.  Jenga – students have to pull our Jenga block and give definition of word to class.

4)   Call My Bluff – dictionary game where students find a word, learn its definition and make up 2 fake ones.


Whole-school approach

1)   Word of the week – focused on common errors

2)   Whiteboards on every door with key words on – possibly windows as well – constant exposure

3)   Key words in planners for all subjects




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