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Lesson Plan

Building Vocabulary: Making Multigenre Glossaries Based on Student Inquiry

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Building Vocabulary: Making Multigenre Glossaries Based on Student Inquiry

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jaime R. Wood

Jaime R. Wood

Portland, Oregon


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



This vocabulary lesson can function as a literature circle activity or as a project that students complete as they read a text in or out of the classroom. Students choose words from their reading that are either unfamiliar or that they would like to know more about. As they collect words, students use the Multigenre Mapper interactive and a list of genres to create a multigenre glossary entry for each word. They continue this activity as they read, eventually using each of ten genres to create a glossary of terms. When students have finished making their own glossaries, these documents can be compiled, bound, and kept in the classroom as an artifact of learning and a resource for future students.

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Multigenre Mapper: Students can use this online tool to create original multigenre, multimodal works—one drawing and three written texts. Students can name the genres for each section, making the tool flexible for multiple writing activities.

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In the book When Kids Can't Read-What Teachers Can Do, Kylene Beers discusses the necessity for teachers to use a variety of methods in vocabulary instruction to nurture students' desire to learn. Beers asserts that in order to "pass that love of words on to others, we must do more than 'study vocabulary.' We must delight in the vocabulary that authors offer" (191). She describes how she encourages students to collect their own words as they read in order to study the words as a class.

This lesson similarly allows students to choose the words that are most interesting or confusing and to investigate these words using several strategies. J. Ron Nelson and Scott Stage support such an approach, noting that: "Word-learning strategies are helpful because we cannot teach students the definition of every word they will encounter" (2). Thus, students need to learn how to learn words in a variety of ways so that they will have the skills to broaden their vocabulary on their own. This is vitally important because "a large vocabulary repertoire facilitates becoming an educated person to the extent that vocabulary is strongly related to reading comprehension in particular and school achievement in general" (Nelson and Stage 1).

Further Reading

Beers, Kylene. When Kids Can't Read What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003.


Nelson, J. Ron, and Scott A. Stage. "Fostering the Development of Vocabulary Knowledge and Reading Comprehension Through Contextually-Based Multiple Meaning Vocabulary Instruction." Education and Treatment of Children. 30.1 (2007): 1-22. 


Graves, Michael.  2006.  The Vocabulary Book: Learning and Instruction.  New York: Teacher's College Press/IRA/NCTE.

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