Standard Lesson

Building Vocabulary: Making Multigenre Glossaries Based on Student Inquiry

6 - 8
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 50-minute sessions
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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.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

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

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Butcher paper

  • Construction paper (for bookmarks)

  • Access to computers with Internet and printing capability for every student




Student Objectives

Students will

  • choose vocabulary words from their reading that are interesting and/or challenging.

  • investigate the words using a variety of genres.

  • use an online tool to demonstrate an understanding of their vocabulary words.

  • create a Multigenre Glossary of the vocabulary words that shows an understaning of the words and genres chosen.

Session One

  1. As the class is about to start reading a text (in book clubs or as a class), explain that students will have the chance to find their own vocabulary words as they read. They will use the list they make to create special glossaries that will stay in the classroom and be used as a resource for students in the future.

  2. Ask students if they know what "multigenre" means. Allow students to guess and discuss what "multigenre" means, and give examples of various genres and how they can be used together to create something like a glossary.

  3. Give every student a bookmark and explain that, as they read and find words, they will record the words on one side of the bookmark. They can decorate the other side of the bookmark if they would like.

  4. Show students the Vocabulary List Guidelines on the overhead and discuss the criteria they should use for adding words to their lists.

  5. Hand out the Multigenre Glossary Guide to every student and provide a brief overview of each of the entry options. Students should put it in their notebooks to keep throughout this project.

  6. Explain that students are going to practice for this assignment by using the Multigenre Glossary Guide along with the online Multigenre Mapper interactive (and the Multigenre Mapper Planning Sheet).

  7. On the board, write the following (using these words or ones you select):

    • A: 2, 4, 6, 7 weary

    • B: 2, 6, 7, 9 pomegranate

    • C: 1, 3, 5, 6 morose

    • D: 1, 2, 6, 8 splice

    • E: 2, 4, 9, 10 pessimist

    • F: 3, 4, 5, 10 deduct
  8. Assign every student a letter A through F. Explain that everyone who is an A will use genres 2, 4, 6, and 7 on the Multigenre Glossary Guide to make a glossary page for the word "weary," everyone who is a B will use 2, 6, 7, and 9 for the word "pomegranate," and so on.

  9. Distribute the Sample Multigenre Glossary Entry and explain that their finished pages will look like this, depending on their word and the genres they use to represent it.

  10. Ask every student to turn to their computers and go to the Multigenre Mapper Planning Sheet. Explain that everyone will use the space in the top left corner for genre #6 or #10. All other genres will go in the text boxes.

  11. Tell students to call their multigenre text " [Word] Glossary Page" and insert the word they have been assigned. They should title the other sections with the genre they are using in those sections.

  12. Ask students to print out their planning sheet when they finish titling each section. They should show you the plan before they continue on to the Multigenre Mapper.

  13. With their plan in hand, students can now start working with the Multigenre Mapper to create a glossary page for their words. Remind students that they may need to use or to get more information about their words.

  14. Tell students that they must print out their Mappers when they are finished since they cannot be saved.

  15. Monitor students' progress and answer questions as students work independently. Some students who are working with the same word may want to work side by side to help each other.

  16. Ask all students to print out and turn in their glossary pages (even if they aren't quite finished) before the session ends.

  17. Explain that the class will have an opportunity to share their glossary pages and ask more questions about the project tomorrow.

Session Two

  1. Return students' multigenre glossary pages.

  2. Ask volunteers to share what they created in the previous session.

  3. Give the class a chance to talk about any difficulties they had with the practice work they did yesterday. Answer any questions students have about the ten genres on the Multigenre Glossary Guide and give additional instruction in areas where students experienced confusion.

  4. Explain that as students read their books/stories they will record words on their bookmarks and in their notebooks according to the criteria discussed yesterday. Review the Vocabulary List Guidelines if necessary. Once a week students will share their words with the class and you will record them on the butcher paper on the wall.

  5. Explain that students must choose four genres for each word. One of those genres must be #6 or #10 for each glossary page to fill the top left box on the Multigenre Mapper. At the end of the project, students should have used every genre at least once.

  6. If there is time left, you may choose to allow students to begin reading their books/stories and looking for words in class.

Session Three

  1. When students are ready to transfer their vocabulary words to the Multigenre Mapper tool for the first time, remind them that they can use the Multigenre Mapper Planning Sheet to help them stay organized or as a way to keep track of which genres they have used.

  2. Ask students to work with one vocabulary word at a time. They should print out each Multigenre Mapper and turn it in before progressing to the next vocabulary word.

  3. When your class finishes this project, make copies of every student's glossary pages. Return the originals to the students, and bind the copies in alphabetical order to keep in the classroom. (Note: Sometimes students will choose the same words. This is not a problem since the style, quality, and genre of their glossary pages will most likely be quite different.)


Student Assessment / Reflections

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