Standard Lesson

A Prereading Strategy: Using the Vocabulary, Language, Prediction (VLP) Approach

6 - 8
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 45-minute lessons
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In this lesson, students use the Vocabulary, Language, Prediction (VLP) approach to understand new vocabulary prior to reading. This approach provides a means of preteaching by using oral language activities and vocabulary words as a basis for predicting what might happen in a nonfiction reading selection. The VLP approach also aids in the structural analysis and morphology of words. Using identified vocabulary, students record synonyms, antonyms, categorization, dictionary usage, semantic analysis, part of speech, phonics analysis, structural analysis, and rhyming words. Once students complete the word study, they make predictions based on teacher-created questions related to the content. After reading the selection, students modify their predictions based on their reading and complete a crossword puzzle based on the vocabulary and word study. The VLP approach can be used in all content areas.

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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

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 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).

Materials and Technology

  • Computers with Internet access

  • LCD projector and screen




  1. Access National Geographic Kids: “Ten Freaky Forces of Nature.” Print enough copies of this story for each student.

  2. Note the 26 vocabulary words used in this lesson (see Vocabulary Words From “Ten Freaky Forces of Nature”). Review questions in Session 1. Prepare any additional questions for Session 2.

  3. Reserve time in the computer lab, as necessary, for Session 5. Bookmark the Crossword Puzzles tool on your classroom or school computers, and make sure that the tool is working properly. If you experience technical difficulties, you may need to download the newest version of the Flash plug-in, which is available for free on the Technical Help page of this website. You may want to create and print your own crossword puzzle to model how students will use the tool.

  4. Make photocopies of the Vocabulary, Language, Prediction Worksheet and the Crossword Puzzles Checklist.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Use the Vocabulary, Language, Prediction (VLP) approach to develop vocabulary understanding in content area reading

  • Reinforce their understanding of the vocabulary words and their meanings by developing crossword puzzles for their peers

  • Develop prediction skills about the text based on the vocabulary identified and explored

  • Review their predictions and understanding of the vocabulary and text after reading

Session 1: Vocabulary

  1. Have students work in groups of three to four. Introduce the lesson by writing the title “Ten Freaky Forces of Nature” on the board and asking the question, “What do you think ‘freaky forces of nature’ could be?” List all possibilities on the board.

  2. Distribute the Vocabulary, Language, Prediction Worksheet. On the overhead projector or board, list the Vocabulary Words From “Ten Freaky Forces of Nature.” While the students are in their groups, ask them to read the words and use them to brainstorm and describe their idea of a freaky force of nature. To scaffold this assignment, you could say something like, “While I was on vacation in Serbia, a strange funnel appeared in the atmosphere. I thought it was a tornado, but I also observed huge rogue waves and expected to see a tsunami hit land.” Each group should verbally describe a freaky force of nature.

Session 2: Oral Language

  1. Remind students about their brainstormed freaky forces of nature.

  2. Using an overhead projector or an interactive whiteboard, begin asking language questions based on student knowledge. Students likely will not know what pyroclastic means; however, this word can be introduced using the prefix pyro. The word silicon can be introduced using phonetic sounds. (When working with a different story, identify which vocabulary words and categories to choose. You may not need all categories for a particular lesson.) For each question you ask, record the students’ answers on the board and have the students record the answers on their Vocabulary, Language, Prediction Worksheet. Students should not use a dictionary for this part of the lesson. For each area, ask questions, such as the following, and write students’ answers on the board.


    Which word means “deceitful”?

    Answer: rogue

    Which word means the same as “hot”?

    Answer: scalding

    Which word means the same as “freaky”?

    Answer: bizarre


    Which word means the opposite of “build, construct”?

    Answer: consume


    Group all the words that have to do with weather.

    Answer: waterspouts, tornado, earthquake, tsunami, avalanches

    Group all the words that have to do with heat.

    Answer: molten, vaporizes, scalding, magma, hydrothermal

    Context (words that are familiar to students)

    The shining star ______________ in the night sky. (shimmers)

    The ice on the train tracks caused the train to ___________. (derail)

    A pipe broke in our kitchen and water began to ___________ onto the floor. (gush)

    Dictionary Usage

    Using a dictionary or Merriam-Webster’s Word Central, find the definition of funnel as used in this sentence: We used a funnel to separate the noodles from the juice in the soup.

    Definition: A funnel is a utensil usually shaped like a hollow cone with a tube extending from the point and used to catch and direct a downward flow (as of liquid).

    Semantic Analysis

    Which word fits into this sentence? The helicopter ___________ over the accident waiting to land on the airstrip. (hovered)

    Parts of Speech

    Which words are verbs or action words?

    Answer: gush, consume, vaporize, shimmer, hover, funnel

    Which words name something?

    Answer: avalanches, atmosphere, tornado, auroras, tsunami, waterspouts, phenomenon

    Which word is a proper noun?

    Answer: Serbia

    Phonic analysis: In which word(s) do you find the same sound of i as in still.

    Answer: silicon and kilometers

    Structural Analysis

    Which word(s) has a prefix meaning “fire, heat, hot temperature?”

    Answer: pyroclastic

    Rhyming Words

    Which word rhymes with “poetic”?

    Answer: magnetic

Session 3: Prediction

  1. Have students continue to work in their groups from Session 1. Use the questions prepared ahead of time that relate to prediction. Below are sample questions and some possible student answers that can be used for this particular lesson. The categories include characterization, setting, mood or feeling, reality/fantasy, and events/outcomes. These categories will help to predict what the story is about. (You can decide on your own categories for use with other content area stories.)

    Record students’ answers on the board or overhead to increase comprehension during the reading portion of the lesson.


    Teacher (T): Which words probably tell you what this story is about?

    Student 1 (S1): My guess is it’s about avalanches, tornadoes.

    S2: It’s about weather.

    S3: Freaky weather.


    T: Where do you think the story takes place?

    S1: Serbia, the atmosphere

    S2: The ocean because I see the word tsunamis.

    Mood or Feeling

    T: Do any of the words tell you about the mood of the story?

    S1: Since “freaky” is in the title, it might be a strange story.

    S2: Bizarre and phenomenon relate to a strange story.


    T: Do you think this story will be fantasy or reality?

    S1: I think it is a real story, or many real stories, because of the different types of weather words.


    T: Which words give you clues about the events of the story? Use the words in a few sentences to predict some events and happenings.

    S1: There might be rogue waves, which look like tsunamis.

    S2: In Serbia, there might be a volcano with hot molten magma that gushes out of the volcano and vaporizes buildings.

  2. While students are in groups, have them read the passage "Ten Freaky Forces of Nature" quietly using sticky notes, highlighters, or margin notes as reading comprehension strategies.

Session 4: Reviewing Predictions

  1. Hand out the completed Vocabulary, Language, Prediction Worksheet and copies of the story “Ten Freaky Forces of Nature.” Students can use the passage to refer back to when reviewing predictions. Using the overhead projector, return to the predictions made in Session 2 and make modifications or clarifications on students’ worksheets using as many terms as possible.

  2. Ask students to rejoin their groups from Session 1. To reinforce vocabulary knowledge, have them return to the story and locate the sentence where each vocabulary word is used. Students should highlight or underline the vocabulary word and discuss the words and their predictions with their group.

Session 5: Vocabulary Review

  1. Use the classroom computers or the computer lab where the interactive Crossword Puzzles has been bookmarked. Tell students to enter their name, click on grade level 6–8, then click on “Play One of Ours.” Students can then access the crossword puzzle titled “Freaky Forces of Nature.”

  2. Have students follow the instructions to create a unique crossword puzzle for a classmate to complete. Tell students to enter their names, then click the “Create Your Own” tab. Each student will name their puzzle, then click on the “Begin” tab. Students need to enter at least 10 vocabulary words from the lesson, then click the “Create Puzzle” tab. The next step is to click on the “Enter Clues” tab and enter the definitions for each word. Clicking the “Finish” button generates the puzzle and clues. Students should then click the “Print” button. Make sure students check the “Print a Blank Puzzle” and “Print the Answer Key” buttons before exiting the Crossword Puzzle tool because puzzles cannot be saved on the website.

  3. When students have printed their crossword puzzle and answer key, have them complete the Crossword Puzzles Checklist as a self-assessment.

  4. Collect the crossword puzzles, answer keys, and self-assessments.

  5. Use student-created crossword puzzles as a vocabulary review. Distribute crossword puzzles, making sure that students do not receive their own puzzles.


  • To continue vocabulary retention, use the Alphabet Organizer to create an ABC book of vocabulary. Students will enter their name and title of the organizer. Tell them to choose Option #2, then click on the letters required for the 26 vocabulary words and enter the words. The notes can include definition, synonyms, antonyms, rhyming words, part of speech, and how the word is used in “Ten Freaky Forces of Nature.” Have them choose “Letter Pages” for their alphabet organizers, then click print. Students must make sure they print before they exit the program as their work will not be saved.

  • Explore other National Geographic Kids: Stories to use as extensions to this lesson.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Observe students’ participation during Sessions 1, 2, and 3. Did everyone participate, ask questions, and interact with other group members?

  • Collect completed Vocabulary, Language, Prediction Worksheeets. Did everyone record a prediction for each word? If a prediction was incorrect, did the student correct the response during the review in Session 4?

  • Collect and assess completed teacher- and student-created crossword puzzles for correct answers. Do their clues follow the Vocabulary, Language, Prediction Worksheet they completed in Sessions 1 and 2?

  • Review the student-created crossword puzzles to see whether students followed the Crossword Puzzles Checklist.

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