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Lesson Plan

Using Word Storms to Explore Vocabulary and Encourage Critical Thinking

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Seven 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Deborah Kozdras, Ph.D.

Deborah Kozdras, Ph.D.

Tampa, Florida


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



During this lesson, students are introduced to the concept of working dogs and how they help society. Students read a variety of texts, learn relevant vocabulary, participate in purposeful writing, and are encouraged to share their perspectives. An inquiry model called POWER is used, in addition to a vocabulary strategy called Word Storms, which is designed to help students speak and write critically about the texts they read. Most of the resources for the lesson are found online.

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Sample Word Storm Page: This printout helps students understand how to use the Word Storm process to learn new words.

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Ellery, V. (2005). Creating strategic readers: Techniques for developing competency in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

The following sequence of scaffolded learning adapted from this book is used in this lesson:

  • Reading aloud and modeled writing: Using an interactive read-aloud, the teacher familiarizes students with specific vocabulary and models reading behaviors of fluent readers through think-aloud demonstrations. The teacher then demonstrates speaking/reading/writing connections through modeled writing.

  • Shared reading and writing: The teacher and students interact with the text. A systematic schedule of word work is important during this time.

  • Guided reading and writing: Students work in small groups to read and write, reinforcing and practicing the previous strategies and techniques.

  • Independent reading and writing: Students spend time doing real and relevant reading and writing, which allows them to make connections and explore meaning.


Heffernan, L. (2004). Critical literacy and writer's workshop: Bringing purpose and passion to student writing. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


Klemp, R.M. (2000). Word Storm: Connecting vocabulary to the student's database. In T.V. Rasinski, N.D. Padak, B.W. Church, G. Fawcett, J. Hendershot, J.M. Henry, et al. (Eds.), Teaching word recognition, spelling, and vocabulary: Strategies from The Reading Teacher (pp. 6162). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

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